Shannon Lay

Follow this artist

About this artist

Shannon Lay is a singer, guitarist, and songwriter who first made a name for herself as part of the California garage punk scene, but would pursue a radically different solo career steeped in thoughtful, psychedelic-infused indie folk. As a songwriter, Lay’s work is impressionistic but has graceful melodies that suggest the influence of British and Celtic folk, while her acoustic guitar and vocals are powerfully emotive while maintaining an artful subtlety. Lay’s garage-influenced work with Feels is best heard on their 2016 debut album; she enjoyed a breakthrough as a solo artist with 2017′s Living Water, and after signing with Sub Pop Records, she cut a pair of ambitious and well-crafted LPs, 2019′s August and 2021′s Geist.
Shannon Lay was born in 1991 in Redondo Beach, California. She was a passionate skateboarder, and at the age of 13, she got a guitar and began learning to play. While she initially focused on working out classic rock favorites from the likes of Neil Young and the Beatles, her tastes began to broaden considerably when she first heard X and the Velvet Underground, and she began seeking out different sounds. At 17, Lay left Redondo Beach for Los Angeles, where she hoped to join a band. A notice on Craigslist led her to a group called Facts on File, but after taking a job at a vintage clothing shop, she struck up a friendship with one of her co-workers, Laena Geronimo, who was working with a band called Raw Geronimo. Lay was invited to join the group, who changed their name to Feels in 2014 and started winning an audience on the California garage punk scene. Lay was already interested in establishing a solo career, and in 2015 she released Holy Heartache, a collection of 16 home-recorded songs she would later dismiss as “just me putting songs on Bandcamp … it never felt like an official release.” A year later, she had a more satisfying experience when Feels brought out their self-titled debut album (produced by Ty Segall) and in early 2017, she issued a second solo effort, the folk-oriented All This Life Goin’ Down, which earned positive reviews. She had a second album ready to go in September 2017, Living Water; singer and songwriter Kevin Morby was so impressed with the LP that he formed the Mare Records label specifically so he could release it. By the time Living Water was out, Lay was faring well enough in her musical career that she could leave her day job, giving her more time to write and record. In February 2019, Feels released their second album, Post Earth, and in August of that year, her next solo effort became available; titled August, it was issued by Sub Pop Records, the long-running Seattle-based indie label. Before the year was out, Lay put out a single via Sub Pop’s Singles Club, and in 2020, in collaboration with singer and guitarist Steve Gunn, she cut a cover of Blaze Foley’s “Clay Pigeons” to benefit Minnesota’s Black Visions Collective. Lay also joined Ty Segall on the road as a member of his Freedom Band, and she contributed vocals to “Ice Plant,” a track that would first appear in 2019 before it popped up on his album First Taste. In October 2021, Sub Pop released Lay’s second solo album for the label, Geist, a haunting collection of songs featuring instrumental contributions from Ben Boye, Sofia Arreguin, and Aaron Otheim, as well as her occasional bandmate, Segall. ~ Mark Deming