SIAIRA SHAWN

Talking to the LA-based musician on her latest EP, 'Tender', having her music played on Issa Rae's, 'Insecure' and co-directing the non-profit, 'Over Everything' Record Label.

What were the main themes of your latest project, ‘Tender’?

Hmm, the main theme was kind of a narrative journey of what you can go through while searching for love. Trying to be very honest, vulnerable, accountable and having fun. Also, doing that in this time which feels like a dystopia. I say I write dystopian love songs, lol.

What was your creative process like for the project and who did you work with?

It started off just making songs with my Executive Producer, Mars Today. I was trying to find my sound again. I was working with him and we’d have different producers and musicians coming in and then it started to congeal. The songs started to come, then the name and theme and I built from there.

What was the inspiration for your track, ‘Lost’?

I was kind of lost actually, lol. It was 2017 and I just decided I was going to continue music after having a bit of an existential crisis about it the year before. I also saw some other people in that place, so that’s where it came from. Wanting to express that feeling.

How do you feel your sound has grown from your first project up until now?

It’s grown a lot, it’s become more refined, more me. I just want to continue to evolve. 

What was the inspiration for your ‘Flowers While You’re Here’ projects?

I wanted to put something out that wasn’t a big long project, but would give me time to cultivate that, but also be something fun thematically. Each project had a slightly different theme; it was supposed to be a trilogy that played off the different seasons. They were each about giving people their “flowers,” that recognition, that love while they’re here.

What was the inspiration and creative process for your ‘Ghost’ EP?

'Ghost' was for me my first official project. I had released some things previously, but the two singles I released prior were me coming into my own, letting the world know who I was sonically, through songwriting and theme. I wanted to be a songwriter who wrote about the nuances, the crevices of love and relationships and that was the showcase. I was living in New York, working with a producer, Haz. I really put a lot into it, so I was and am very proud of that project. A lot of people found out about me from that and people still play it even now.

 

How was it to have your single, ‘Wrong Speed’ featured on Issa Rae’s ‘Insecure’?

It was awesome. I’ve always wanted my music in movies and shows. I won through a Afropunk Insecure contest. I got to meet Issa and do a concert series as well. I’m hoping to get even more syncs in the future.

 

How important are visuals to you and what has been your favourite visual project, so far?

Very important, though I’m picky about when and how many. Lol. I’m super lucky that my wife is a genius cinematographer, editor, director etc. and we work on my visuals together. Personally, my fave so far is the video we just did for “Wolf”. We actual had a bit of a budget and really got to do a lot of the things we always wanted and it was really fun!

Could you tell us a bit about the ‘Over Everything’ label and why being involved in a non-profit label is important to you?

It’s a joint venture between Mars and I. A non profit music label and artist empowerment org. We don’t sign artists. We A&R projects and help steward artists in the direction they want to go. We also do artist education through panels and workshops. We had two successful panels so far in LA and Oakland. It’s important because we want to democratize knowledge and resources for independent artists and bring unique voices to the table. 

 

We also have eventual plans to partner with orgs and create initiatives that center young women and non binary folks because that presence and voice is growing, but still needed even more in the industry.

Which artists inspired you to get into music and which artists are inspiring you today?

Too many to name, I will say my mother was a huge influence. She has a great voice and exposed me to all types of music and art. Today, anyone who is pushing boundaries and I can tell has but some rigor into it. Anyone who genuinely loves music. Anyone who wants to create a moment and inspire.

 

How is being an independent artist in LA and who are some local artists you would recommend?

 

It’s interesting lol. I feel like it’s where I’m supposed to be; I’ve formed a lot of great musical relationships and it gets you closer to the people and resources you need sometimes, but it’s still a hard road. 

 

Local artists: 

 

Phabo

Asiahn 

Pher 

Destin 

Mars Today

Recommend five artists that you think your listeners should be listening to … 

 

Sonic

Victoria Monet 

Mansur Brown 

Nstasia 

Saint Jhn

What was your highlight of 2019 and what’s coming up for 2020?

Releasing 'Tender' and all that came after that! 2020 is a little uncertain at the moment. However, I’m going to be releasing a good amount of music, hope to collab and write for others and hopefully, full time artistry.

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