Tampa Bay native singer-songwriter, Eden Shireen, began creating a name for herself in the Orlando music scene. With two EPs under her belt, Shireen has performed on the main stage at Florida Music Festival, played international in Manila, Philippines, and opened for major artists like Aaron Carter and Tyler Ward. Her art is a melodic blend of indie, folk, and pop music that brilliantly tell stories of growth, love, and heartbreak. Neon Hive sat down and talked to the talented storyteller herself about songwriting and life as a musician.
Neon Hive: How did you become a part of the Orlando music scene?
Eden Shireen: I did both of my records in Orlando. After I did my first record in Orlando, I made the goal to network with all of the other artists that recorded with my producer. That’s how I met artists like Reggie Williams (now R.L.U.M.R.) and Ashley Dudukovich (Chasing Jonah). Then, through knowing those people I got to know you (Kristin Grice) and so many other musicians.
NH: When did you start getting into music?
Shireen: For me, it started at a very early age. I loved music before I wrote music. I was always a fan of music before I was a musician. I grew up listening to The Cranberries and The Sundays and Bob Marley. I grew up on powerhouse songwriters. When I got to middle school, I joined band and then, I fell in love with orchestra music and then, I loved reading. Then, I started writing poetry and then, I realized poetry is song lyrics and I can write music to this. I started really writing with intention to release music when I was sixteen, but the process of me starting to write poetry was about fourteen.
NH: When was the first time you officially performed?
Shireen: The first show I ever played was at Backbooth, which is now called Soundbar. I opened up for King the Kid, Tayler Buono, and The Cold Start. That was my first real Orlando show where I had no fans, but I played that show. I had done one songwriters round, but it was terrible and I was petrified and everyone was nice to me. That show at Backbooth was my first coming out show. It was really awesome.
NH: Do you remember what the experience was like at your first show?
Shireen: I was petrified. I was very nervous. I knew that I knew my material and I knew that I loved performing so much, but I was still in that phase of not feeling really confident in it, so for me it was very nerve racking to be vulnerable on a stage in front of strangers. They didn’t know me and their first judgment of me was going to be on how that performance was. I was so, so grateful that everyone was so kind. It was wonderful to share the bill with really talented people.
NH: Tell me about your experience the first time you played on one of the main stages at Florida Music Festival.
Shireen: I was a nervous wreck. I loved it though! Florida Music Festival is something I live for every single year. I look forward to it. There could be five people there or five hundred people and I would be just happy. The first time I played FMF with a full band I was so nervous, but it was the first time on a stage I felt like I owned my music. Every time since then that I’ve played FMF, I get more and more comfortable and more confident. I really give that to FMF and to the people who have supported me along the way.
NH: What was the storytelling process like with your first EP?
Shireen: My first EP is kind of my time capsule for high school. It’s really cute because “Invisible to You”, track number four on the record, was about a boy in my fourth period English class in my junior year of high school. I got creative where I placed the songs on the record in relation to what was happening in my life in high school. “Falling Apart” was about this group of girls who were very exclusive and were somehow kind of my friends, but every single time I wanted to hang out with them, they would exclude me. I had come up to the conclusion that they were falling apart and they didn’t know how to handle themselves. Although that sounds very mean, but it was essentially how I could cope with bullying in high school. “Tangled Heartstrings” was about a boy who had a crush on me and I had a crush on him, but he had a girlfriend. He was in a very toxic relationship. “Like A Symphony” was the first song I wrote and it was about one of the first crushes I really ever had. It’s really a time capsule for my high school experience.
NH: What was the storytelling process like for your second EP, Shadows?
Shireen: Shadows was written in real time. The stories on the record were happening almost simultaneously in my life. So this record was happening pretty present. I wrote “Stick Around” the night before we went into record and I had booked the session. I was conflicted and it was the last song for the record and I was like “What don’t I have on this that I want?” I got this overwhelming feeling of resentment and I penned out “Stick Around”. Everything on that record was happening week to week. It wasn’t because I wasn’t prepared, but it was because it was for me, a dark chapter of my life. That’s why it’s called Shadows. It was a terrible relationship I was going through and a toxic time in my life that I’ve come to terms with and moved away from. I don’t think I could’ve done that in the way that I did without my music. It was a really dark time in my life, but I am grateful for it. I grew a lot and I think that I am the most proud of those songs.
NH: Which song identifies or embodies who you are as an artist?
Shireen: I like to use imagery a lot. I like to try and put the listener where I was when the situation happened. When it comes to sonically what song represents me the most, that’s really difficult because I think every single song is a different part of me. Lyrically, “Letters”, embodies who I am as an artist. The farther you go with it, the deeper you fuel yourself in it, the more you grow.
NH: In your music, what is the important message that you want people to connect with?
Shireen: I don’t want people to ever think that someone is better than them or that they are better than someone else. We all cry. We all breathe. We all have heartbeats. We all feel emotions. We all feel differently, but we all feel alone. At one time or another, we all have this very isolating feeling within ourselves. Whether that is due to our culture or technology. Loneliness leads to anxiety and can lead to depression. There’s something magical about music and going to a concert. Even when you go to a concert alone, you’re around people who love the same thing and you feel joy. In those one to two hours of you standing in a crowd with strangers, you have the opportunity to spark conversation and be as happy as everyone around you. If I, as a musician, can cultivate a space that can make that opportunity happen for people, that’s what I love. I love the opportunity to give people the chance to make friends. You’re giving them a space of safeness, security, and kindness. Not just through my music, but through a community of people.
NH: How important do you think it is for artists to experience collaboration and co-writing?
Shireen: I think everyone should have the opportunity to co-write and if they feel scared by it, that’s even more reason they should do it. Working with other people, it opens you up to to utilizing their tools into your toolbox. It’s a learning process and it’s an amazing opportunity to work with other people and collaborate.
NH: Being a storyteller, what have you learned about yourself the most as a person and as a musician?
Shireen: For me, I’ve given myself permission to feel things deeply. I think growing up I was always intimidated by my emotions because I view life differently. I view things from the outside looking in. There is a lot of hurt that comes from that perspective, but there is a lot of hope that comes with it too. I’m a fixer. I want to fix things. You can’t always do that. It’s gratifying to allow myself to feel things on a deeper level and to put it somewhere so that I can walk away feeling peaceful. I can go back to the song if I want to feel it. It’s like a time capsule for me. I can walk away and let it live and breathe somewhere else. When I miss it, I can go back and feel it.