LA SHANA LATRICE
We chat to Birmingham's rising R&B artist on the release of her debut album 'Everything Is Changing', finding her sound alongside producer Reginald Smith and the stressful process of creating visuals.
How has the response to your debut project ‘Everything Is Changing’ been?
It’s been really good, I’m not going to lie! I put a lot into it and I’m starting to see some results and I just want to keep building and growing it. At the moment, I’m working on a deluxe. I’m going to have two remixes of two songs and four additional new singles that will be on there just to kind of stretch and grow the project.
Has it been a relief to get the project out?
Big time - I feel like with most artists, the moment it’s out a whole heap of weight is lifted off of your shoulders.
How was the process of creating the project? How did your collaboration with Reginald Smith come about?
I actually met Reggie when I used to do modelling. He also does photography and film - so, he does everything and he’s great at doing all of them and actually successful in all of them. When I transitioned to music it was perfect, he’s worked with people like Ne-Yo and Celine Dion. He’s not just my producer or photographer, he’s like my friend now so it’s been a big privilege. We’ve just been in the studio creating and crafting and trying to figure out my sound and the kind of lane that I want to be in.
"... that was the time where it all just started to come into a formula where it made sense - it sounded and felt right."
The whole album was created specifically for the project, how was it creating something completely from scratch?
I had loads of songs that didn’t make the project because I knew I wanted to speak about change in my life, how it’s changed and what’s changed and I wanted to talk about that but I didn’t really know how. I didn’t know whether I wanted to talk about it in an upbeat vibe or a mellow vibe or more Hip-Hop vibe, so I was just creating and creating.
Then, the lockdown happened and that was the time where it all just started to come into a formula where it made sense - it sounded and felt right. I had something to go off of, so I knew I wanted to create this vibe within this project, whereas before, I felt like I was just creating music to try and figure it out. I finally managed to know what vibe I really wanted to go for which is like mellow, soft, sultry, sweet, deep, real, honest … that’s what I wanted to put into my songs.
Is there a track on the project that you feel best encapsulates the tone of the album?
I think there’s a few you know … my favourite song is ‘I Choose You’, just because of the message and the vibe. I would probably say ‘My Songs’, ‘Where Do I Begin’, they’re not really radio singles but I feel like those three songs best describe who I am as an artist.
How was lockdown for you, creatively?
It depends on where your career is at in the music industry. For instance, the bigger artists took a bigger loss because their output had to come down, whereas for upcoming artists we still had a lot of time to create, figure out our sound. We had so much time to get it right and allow things to not work and then come back and do it again. For me, it helped because I was really able to discover what I want to be portrayed as, as an artist. I released my album, four videos, three singles … so, it’s not bad!
"I’ve always been into art and drawing and even with modelling it’s quite an artistic field ..."
How important is it for you to remain a storyteller within your music?
I like telling a story but not to the point where it’s too actressy. I like people to follow along because just visually it’s interesting. That’s my main focus, just with whatever I’m doing that visually it’s captivating and the person watching just wants to click another after. Sometimes I feel that with storytelling it can drag a little bit and lose people's attention, so for me, it’s all about captivating and being as interesting as possible.
Do you take inspiration from artistic mediums other than music e.g. fashion/film etc.
I’ve always been into art and drawing and even with modelling it’s quite an artistic field with shapes and lightning. It’s already kind of in me but I do get a lot of inspiration from the late nineties and that era just because that was the first or second time it was done, I feel like nowadays, nothing is really original. I’d rather just go back and see how the original ones did it and then put my twist on it, rather than looking at multiple different copies, you know?
You just dropped the video for ‘La La’ in December, how was making the visual and being very involved from makeup and styling to choreography, how important is being hands on in your visuals?
To be honest, a part of me doesn’t even want to be hands on but I have to be because if I’m not, then it’s obviously not
going to be exactly how I want it to be. A lot of people don’t have my eyes and my brain, so they’re not going to see it clearly. So, I feel like I’ve got no choice but deep down I would love someone to have my vision, my brain and my eyes and do it all for me, that would be perfect!
It is really important for me to be hands on because then I can’t put the blame on anyone else but myself. It is stressful a lot of the time, like at the moment I don’t have management so it would be nice to have that as things progress because things are starting to get a little above my ability to handle all at once. I feel like I’m doing ok but it does get stressful, I can’t lie.
"I’m really, really excited for Birmingham and I don’t think I ever really have been - so, I’m happy to be representing."
What’s been your favourite video to shoot, so far?
I’m actually releasing another video in the next two weeks! I think my favourite one was … they were all so stressful! I would say the easiest one for me to do was ‘Show Me’, that was the easiest to put together because it was outside. When you work outside the environment is already set, but when you’re inside, unless everything's already there you’re likely to have to add more and build the stage more and set the scene. So, ‘Show Me’ was easier which probably made it more fun.
‘I Choose You’ was outside as well but the thing with that visual was because there was so many things going on - I had skateboarders, rollerbladers, all of these different things going on and again, because I don’t have a manager, I was having to deal with all of these different people at the same time. Whereas ‘Show Me’ although there were a lot of people, there was a lot less that people had to do. I had the dancers and everyone else was just chilling.
How does being from Birmingham with such a varied music scene influence your music?
To be honest, I’m really, really excited for Birmingham and I don’t think I ever really have been - so, I’m happy to be representing. Especially as a female-R&B singer, I feel like it hasn’t ever received the recognition that it deserves. Maybe London R&B has had a bit more light shed on it but for Birmingham, I can only really name Jamelia, straight away and she wasn’t really R&B, she was more Pop. It’s important for me to be a household name and embrace the genre and put it on the map. At the moment, most of my listeners are American’s, so it’s like I’m there in America and I’m pushing my music there because that’s where it’s happening for me but I’m never going to go there and try and be what they are - I’m still a UK artist, I’m still British, I’m bringing it all home.
Do you feel that UK R&B just isn’t pushed or appreciated as it should be?
I feel like in the UK, especially when you’re doing something abroad or internationally and they know you’re from London or Birmingham or Manchester, then they want to claim you. Up until that point it’s a very, very long road - I’m not doing that, that’s not me.
I feel like it’s the people too though because the industry goes off of what is popular now. It’s more the listeners that dictate what is hot or what is popular. So, everyone in the business will then adjust to that, they don’t create what’s popular, it’s the general public that makes it popular. So, at the end of the day the opportunity is here but it’s not going to make people money because the public aren’t supporting it as much but if they are to support it, then you’ll see all of these A&R’s and labels pushing that genre.
Do you have any local artists you would recommend?
I love the classic OG, Lady Leshurr - she’s been representing Birmingham forever and she still hasn’t had her recognition, in my opinion. There’s a girl called Jaydonclover, I like her, my cousin put me on to her, her whole mellow-tone vibe, that’s exactly what I’m on.
Which artists first inspired you to get into music and who is inspiring you today?
I would say it was Destiny’s Child growing up, Aaliyah, Mariah Carey - they were the main people in the beginning who got me wanting to sing all of the time. Now, I’m very inspired by Sabrina Claudio, Summer Walker they’re like my go-to’s.
I still love members of Destiny’s Child like Beyonce and Kelly Rowland, even Brandy and Monica. That group of people, they’re older now but I still look at them because they’re the ones that have had twenty-year long careers and that’s what I want. I’m always going to look at the people who are older now and have kids and are married because a lot of them are still relevant, even though they might not make great selling albums now, they’re still great musicians and have had great careers. I’ll always look up to them for interviews and stage presence and stuff like that because they’re the people that have been doing this for decades.
If you had to recommend five artists to your listeners, who would they be?
Sabrina Claudio - she’s my number one, H.E.R. - if you want to listen to people talking about something real, Jaydonclover, Daniel Caesar and Alex Isley - I love her, that’s someone I’ll always listen too in my car, I’m hearing what she’s doing with her voice, she’s definitely one of my big inspirations.
What’s coming up for 2021?
I’m working on the Deluxe. I haven’t had the chance to go on a big stage, so this year if that’s possible, I’d love to be on a stage and perform to a good amount of people. Collaborating is definitely something that I’m looking to work on more than anything else this year. Performing and collaborations and potentially looking to start a second project towards the end of the year - that’s the direction I want to make happen!