Shay Lia - Class of 2020



How would you describe your musical style?

I think that I blend multiple styles, but the essence of my melodies are purely RnB.

What sparks your creativity?

I would say the quality of the music I receive. I don’t write lyrics in vain, I write on melodies that make me feel something. I’m very selective, if I can vibe and dance to the music, that’s what inspires me the most.

What’s a typical day in your life?

It varies depending on the days or periods. My music dictates a big part of my day-to-day. If I’m working on something, my time will be spent writing and looking for instrumentals. There are periods when I have to push new music, so I will spend my time rehearsing shows or shooting music videos. There are also times when I have to do press runs, so I’ll prepare for interviews.

What do you think of our local music scene at the moment?

I was more in touch with the scene in 2013-2016. Afterwards I had to really focus on my studies and once I finished, I dove straight into the production of my first EP. In the past, music was more of a hobby for me, therefore it’s a bit hard for me to comment on the scene today. There are so many new artists that I don’t know yet. What I do like is that artists are less constrained, there isn’t just one style, genre or sound. For example, I find Toronto to have a more defined sound whereas Montreal artists seem to be more independent in their style. I think that our authenticity is our strength. The one thing that has been bothering me is the lack of recognition of the anglophone hip-hop/rnb scene. I feel like we are more marginalized than others, you really need to be undeniably successful to be recognized by the local music industry. It’s really sad, it shows a lack of open mindedness . At the end of the day, English is an international language and anglophone artists could give Montreal the opportunity to shine globally. I hope that institutions, media companies and the local industry will eventually catch on. The lack of opportunities leads to frustrations. To me, there is a lack of musical diversity, language and people of colour in this music industry. Obviously, I’m simply giving my opinion… but it’s a topic that has been coming back over the years and I also felt this lack of support when I was starting out…

In what part of the world would you like to see your music grow?

Honestly, I always aimed for the international scene. It’s a big bet, especially as an independent artist but I truly believe that my music has elements that can catch on internationally. I’m pretty versatile, I like to switch up my style and try new things. I am far from being a native English speaker, I learned the language late but that hasn’t stopped me from writing all my music in English. I’m going to keep doing the same thing because this is what makes sense to me.

How has the quarantine influenced your music and rhythm of life?

I wrote my second EP Solaris during quarantine. We’re still in quarantine obviously, but I’m talking about that first scary wave in March where I really dedicated a 100% of my time towards the project to escape from all the panic. It bothers me that the quarantine may affect my music, I hope not. I try to create only when I feel it’s time. Either because I’m inspired by something or by another artist. I also like to have a schedule, it allows me to stay on top of things even when I feel like nothing is going alright. It’s a form of discipline.

Who are you listening to right now?

I’m loving the performances from Chloe x Halle, I’m loving the resilience from Meg Thee Stallion, I’m loving the moves Ariana Grande is making but right now the person who I admire the most has nothing to do with music. His name is Mike Horn, one of the biggest explorers in the world. He makes me travel through his stories. He’s doing incredible things, I’m learning a lot from his way of living. It helps me mentally. Ever since he started his YouTube channel, I’ve been hooked! I’ve always been like this, I spend hours on YouTube watching all kinds of things: documentaries, politics, history, beauty channels, Marvin Gaye interviews, Janet Jackson rehearsals, videos of Paris in 1940… I am curious and I have eclectic taste so I always look for things that can bring me knowledge.

What are you working on?

Solaris is recent so I would like to keep promoting it. That will happen in many forms in 2021 just wait and see! I’m making music here and there, I continue to create freely, honing my ideas as time goes on.

Artist: Shay Lia @shayliasphere
photography: Koku Awuye
Words: Yasmine Seck & Alpha Oumarou