Building a bridge between worlds hasn’t always been the easiest – just ask Jay – Z – but rising singer Shaima is more than familiar with this idea. The British and Pakastanian bred artist has been working to find that perfect balance between two vastly different sounds as she creates her own path while being authentic.
I honestly just want people to listen to my music and feel something, for my music to actually impact people in their lives is such a powerful thing to me.
After releasing “Phenomenal” back in 2017, Shaima took a brief break to continue finetuning her craft. Now, she’s back with two new songs “Girl Gang” and the Skales assisted “911.” I had the opportunity of chatting with the singer about her musical journey, who she draws inspiration from, her upbringing as well as her singles “Phenomenal” and “Girl Gang.”
Check out the interview below!
Hey, Shaima! How are you?
Can you give us a little insight into who Shaima is?
Shaima: I’m a born and raised London girl with a mixed heritage background (half English/half Pakistani)!
Do you remember the moment that inspired you to take the music pursuit seriously?
Shaima: I do exactly! It was something that hit me in a moment of realization. I was at a local music fare when I was around 12 (year 7) and my friend was performing… seeing someone I knew in front of me singing I was like “wow this is what I want to do…” whenever you’re young and see music videos on the tv I feel it’s impossible to think I can do that because there’s sort of a barrier between you and the screen. In addition to this, I always wanted to do something in my life to help people and I felt music was a medium to voice things that bothered me!
You’re English and Pakistani, does that mixture directly influence the music you create? Do you take certain aspects from each background to put into your music?
Shaima: Absolutely! I’m not going to lie it took me a long time to “find my sound” and initially I was trying so many different sounds. As soon as I started experimenting with sounds from South Asia, mixed with the London grit I was like THIS IS IT!
For me, my grandparents were born in India and moved to Pakistan so I like to take sounds and inspiration from all South Asia.
Has it been difficult building the bridge musically between these two backgrounds?
Shaima: For sure I mean I reckon it took me over 8 years and still I’m constantly learning and working with new producers who interpret what I’m doing in different ways which I find so interesting. Recently I’ve been working with a producer called Chopstix who is actually from Nigeria but I feel like we’ve clicked so much and the tracks I’ve been making have been in more of a World Asia kind of area!
Which artists have influenced you and/or your sound?
Shaima: Definitely a big big fan of Bob Marley – he brought so many people together through his music in a way that brought so much love in a room whilst also being very real and talking about a lot of serious issues. There are some artists, in particular, I’m inspired by their work ethic, their commitment to music and their voice like Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and Aretha Franklin. However, I wouldn’t say my music is similar to theirs but they have inspired me in a way to be unique in creating my own lane/ genre and in pushing boundaries.
What are some of your goals to accomplish in the realm of Pop music?
Shaima: I honestly just want people to listen to my music and feel something, for my music to actually impact people in their lives is such a powerful thing to me.
I saw that you left a career of Financing to pursue music, what drove you to officially making the switch and what has the response been from family and friends?
Shaima: I always wanted to do music from that time of 12… however, my family were insistent on me getting a degree so I let them choose and the option was kind of between law and accounting! And I thought “I’m much better with numbers that reading books” so I’d go with that option.
It’s a mix really some people are really supportive and see what I’m trying to achieve and others don’t really take the music seriously as a career or respect music in the same way which is a shame but I feel you always have to do what makes YOU happy! And if people love you they will eventually come around.
Has your background in Accounting and Finance helped you deal with the business side of the industry?
Shaima: Definitely I think it’s taught my brain to think in a more analytical way and for sure has helped me to deal with the more practical side of music.
You’ve also been teaching yourself how to produce via Logic, how’s that been going?
Shaima: It’s super difficult but I’m constantly learning from amazing producers around me like Cores, Harry Clarke and Chopstix.
Will we hear more Shaima productions in the future and what advice would you offer those looking to take that route of self-taught producing and creating music in general?
Shaima: It’s all about commitment really. The top producers have spent so many thousands of hours honing in their craft and as an artist, with constantly a million things to do and dance performance, etc it’s hard to compete with that. For me, at the moment it’s just about getting ideas down when I’m out or at home so the producers can develop them properly.
You’ve dabbled in YouTube covers, is that something you’ll expand upon in the future?
Shaima: Definitely, I’m actually working on a few at the moment so stay tuned!
In your song “Phenomenal” you take heartbreak and turn it into something the total opposite of a depressing tale of a love lost, what made you take that approach?
Shaima: I’m all about making positive music or music that makes people feel good. I feel like it has to either make you feel good or feel inspired- either way, to make you feel something!
You recently dropped a new track called “Girl Gang,” how did the song come together?
Shaima: So basically I came in the studio with “Gang Gang” by Migos in my head and before I even got in the room Ads Valu had started working on a track when I came in and was like wow. I was actually in the bathroom with Pepper Rose, the friend I wrote the song with, and we came up with the hook in there!
Lastly, International Women’s Day just passed and this past March was all about celebrating Women’s History, who are some women who’ve inspired you along your journey?
Shaima: I have to say I am really inspired by my own mum and grandmother! My mum is such a strong patient woman who has the heart of gold and always supported me and fought in my corner no matter what. She has taught me I can do anything I want to in life and to always be resilient and stick in there if things in life don’t always go your way. Whilst also being caring about people even if they don’t treat you nice as you never know what others are going through.
My grandmother was also a very strong woman who went through a lot and pretty much single-handedly raised five boys after the partition. She always taught me to be honest no matter what even though the truth hurts sometimes.
More recently my A&R JPL has inspired me a lot by being someone so supportive of my music and showing me that anything is possible through hard work and being good to people!
Youtube: Shaima Music