British artist Shaima came to us with a minute’s warmth, but 2019 seems to have been the year for her.
Shima, who worked as an artist for the Asian network, saw her 911 team with Nigerian superstar Skales and has since completed more than 120,000 video views alone.
The young Londoner tells us about her creative process, how old Bollywood inspired her and why she thinks body image is the most important subject for women in today’s music.
TRADE: Is there a quote you consider the motto of your life?
Shima: There are indeed many, it is difficult to reduce them, but one of my favorites, which I always refer to, is to never, ever give up by missing a day without thinking, whether alone or with Winston Churchill.
What are your recent losses to Spotify?
J.Cole – Work Out – My Last Game (I love this timeless song, big fan of J.Cole).
Bob Marley. – Can they love you? (to help me wake up in the morning).
Amy Winehouse – Back to Black (Amy Winehouse could never be replaced for me, she was legendary).
What are your favourite sounds you want to include in your music?
I like to find old Bollywood copies or random riffs on Arabic instruments where you feel or want to move something.
What emotions do you hope your music will bring to the listener?
According to the song: For the lucky ones, that’s mainly what I do now, I want people to feel good and happy when they listen to them and receive a positive message from them. The bigger the walk, the more I want people to really feel and treat each other, but then they also have a goal, which is ultimately positive.
What is the hardest part of creating new music?
I like to have complicated meanings for songs or analogies for something that happens today, which can be serious, but when you take the light up, it can be difficult.
Was there a time when you wanted to give up music and do something else?
Yeah! Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah! But I swear that every time I thought about giving up, there was another door that God magically opened. That’s why I believe you should follow your instincts and go where life takes you and not give up!
As an artist, have you ever felt the pressure to adapt to a certain form?
Never! I think when I started this journey, I was the only one who loved music and believed in myself, no one in my family was interested in art, so it seemed like everything came from within. I never paid too much attention to what other artists did; I always tried to stay on my own path and set my own standards. The musical mix between East and West stems from the way I mix (half English, half Pakistani/Indian), so the sound and meaning of everything stems from who I am and my life experience.
Have you noticed that the music industry uses double standards when it comes to gender issues?
Actually, fortunately not! I feel like a pretty strong woman, so people know anyway that I won’t tolerate being told something that goes against being a woman or even against being a woman. I even wrote a lot of music for myself that was about empowering women, and the men I worked with were actually very supportive and proud to be part of getting that message across.
What do you think of the representation and image of female musicians? Is there something you want to change?
I think a lot has changed in the last twenty years and women now have the freedom to say what they want and wear what they want. I would like to see women less considered as sex objects if, for example, you sell music, in music videos you see women being humiliated in front of male rappers; but on the other hand, many women find an opportunity to express themselves in this way, if they feel comfortable, that I don’t have a problem with that, even though personally I’m not like them.
Is there something in the music industry that bothers you as a woman?
In fact, many women artists today work for the unity and empowerment of women, for which I have great respect. In general, I find it annoying that many texts written today tend to be rejected and have no positive impact on society as a whole. Considering the influence we have as artists, I think it’s very important to take the time to think about how these lyrics can influence listeners and fans in their daily lives.
What do you think are the problems female musicians face today?
In any case, the body image that leads to social networking and the creation of content is certainly one of the biggest problems. Just focus on staying true to yourself and finding ways to entertain the fans, but also, not letting all those perfect images get into your head and making you feel a little less than perfect, it’s pretty hard to find a balance.
Have you thought about female musicians?
As a big fan of Kehlani she loves the way she projects a very carefree image, but she also accepts many other images, sexuality and gender. She is also very close to George Smith and the neo-spiritual atmosphere she now brings into the world. H.E.R. and SZA are also two artists that I really like right now.
What advice would you give to girls and women who want to work in music?
Be very careful and sceptical about the advice given to you, especially in the beginning. I know it sounds very negative, but I entered the industry when I was fourteen and I have been told that much of what I now know from experience is not true. And it’s very difficult to understand what’s right and wrong, because that’s not possible in music. I think you should always enjoy the music you make and process, but stay on your guard until you have built a strong and trusted relationship where you know that people care about you and have the best for you. It is also very important to find people who will adhere to your vision and the path you map out for the future, so that they can help you achieve that vision. And last but not least, always believe in yourself and your abilities; if you don’t believe in your abilities and your talent, it’s hard to share this vision with others. It’s all about hard work and perseverance.
Is there anything in your career that makes you feel like you’re still learning?
EVERYTHING! I’ve been in the industry for literally eleven years and sometimes I still feel like an intern in the office. Recently, last year, I started again with piano and guitar and tried to prepare them for the gigs (which hopefully will take place soon, early 2020!). Every studio session is different, I constantly meet new people with different stories and experiences, learn from them how they write and how their process works. Nowadays, of course, there are so many facets of the art of music, but these include writing, singing, performing, producing, playing instruments, and then there’s all the marketing, branding, creative music videos, visual effects and fashion/styles. So I think there’s always room for improvement in all these areas.
What’s left in 2019?
Suo… I’m currently working on a new EP which I’m very excited about and can’t wait to finish/update it! I think it’s probably early 2020. We’re going to release some great remixes for my latest single 911 with scales, so keep an eye on it!