Shaun Escoffery is back with a new album entitled In The Red Room after a seven year absence from the industry. The man who sung and co-wrote the iconic soul anthem Days Like This, which no doubt encapsulates the incomparable ambience of British summertime, has released a collection of carefully crafted tracks which runs the gamut from soulful grooves to unabashed pop/rock. During his time away from the industry Shaun carved out a successful career as a theatre performer and had an ongoing role as Mufasa in The Lion King. Recently signed to indy label Dome Records, Shaun is ready to return to centre stage, and we caught up with him recently to find out more about what he has in store for the rest of 2014.
Hey Shaun, congrats on the album, so tell us what inspired the intriguing album title In The Red Room?
Basically I’ve been working with the producer Gil Cang, he’s become my business partner and producer. We had been working in the studio which he refers to as the Red Room. So I thought you know what, let’s just make that the album title, it’s nice and simple, Shaun Escoffery – The Red Room.
So this is your first album release since 2007, I know you’ve been doing theatre in the interim, what was that experience like and how does it differ to being a recording artist?
The experience was great because I was performing every night which was fantastic. Also, I was able to engage with acting which is a different aspect of performing. And there’s also the thing with theatre where I can kinda hide behind a character. That’s where it really starts to differ from live performances. Because when I’m singing in front of an audience it’s coming from my perspectives and experiences – I can’t hide behind anything. So in that respect, being an artist is harder because you really have to engage with the audience on an honest level. But at the same time I just love performing so whatever guise that takes is fine. And I think the two fields really complement each other.
Your single Days Like This is a certified summer classic. Did you ever feel when you were recording it that it would become the feel good anthem it is today?
I wrote the song with Geoffrey Williams a while ago and I never thought in a million years that it would still be so relevant. I remember being in Ladbroke Grove, it was a lovely day and we kinda got writers block, so we thought we’d go out for something to eat. We arrived at a restaurant and the vibe was lovely – there was music playing, the sun was out, and we could smell the food. And I remember saying to Geoffrey, ‘I love days like this’ and he immediately said ‘that’s it’. The song was totally spontaneous; you’d never think that something so simple would resonate with so many people.
The name Escoffery is synonymous with music in the UK, was music always around the house while growing up?
Yeah, my cousin Michelle Escoffery is a singer/songwriter and has been in the industry for many years. But my mum was also a singer and was into lovers rock, and would sit around the dinner table on a Sunday writing songs with her friends, and me and my sister would be in earshot and would pick up on it. My Dad was a DJ and had a vast collection of records and would play out and stuff. So there was always music around my house, especially on a Sunday.
When did you realise you had a talent for singing and wanted to pursue as a profession?
I’ve always loved singing, but it was more about the feeling – I used to sing to make me feel good. As a kid I would perform covers but I never really took it that seriously as I didn’t think singing was a viable career option. When I started to hit my teens I began writing with my friend; he had a four track and would create these hip-hop beats that I’d sing the melodies over. So that’s when I started to take music a bit more seriously and I just thought I’d see where it would take me.
In The Red Room has quite a lot of musical flavours, there are soulful songs, and more pop sounding ones, what was your intention when making this album?
I just thought, I wanna make tunes that I love. I’ve been in the industry for a while so just wanted to do something I’d enjoy. I also wanted to pay tribute to artists who have inspired me such as Marvin Gaye, Al Green and the Isley Brothers – so you’ll definitely find those influences in there. There are a few tracks with a slight pop or commercial feel to them too, which I hope people will also like.