Kenyan artist Sheila alias Shy is living the life in the heart of North America. The Toronto based musician chats with Standard Entertainment & Lifestyleabout life in the diaspora, music and dreams...
How's life in Toronto compared to Kenya? What do you miss most about Kenya? When should we expect you back in the country?
It is quite different! Toronto is a very multicultural city. It is made up of many cultures from all over the world. The thing I miss most about Kenya is the weather and the food. It can get quite cold in Canada during the winter season. We experience roughly nine months of colder conditions and about three months of summer where it gets too hot and humid. I also miss the authentic taste of Kenyan food. I am planning to come to Kenya at some point this year!
How do you juggle music, school and your job?
Music is my focus. My job schedule is very flexible and allows me the ability to be able to still pursue my music. I am currently on a break from school. It was very draining to maintain both school and music, so I made the choice to pursue what I feel is my divine purpose.
Does your name ‘Shy’ have anything to do with your character?
Surprisingly yes! Especially when it comes to my music. Not the creating part, but having to put it out to the world. It takes a lot of self-talk for me to keep putting myself out there. Shy is also a short form of my real name Sheila.
Are there any Kenyan artists that you would like to collabo with?
Yes of cos! I would love to collaborate with Sauti Sol, Khaligraph Jones, Nadia Mukami… the list is endless to be honest. However, my main objective now is to solidify my sound and myself as an artist before trying to work with these artists. Gotta bring something to the table!
Have you faced any challenges unique to women musicians in the industry? How did you overcome them?
I feel like challenges are always there. They must exist for us to grow and become better. As a woman though, it can be frustrating trying to be a player in a game dominated by men. I always encourage myself to find a different way if I come across a roadblock and to keep pushing forward regardless
Are you planning on releasing a Swahili song in a bid to relate more to your Kenyan audience?
Yes Indeed! I have several Swahili songs in my unreleased catalogue! I would not necessarily say that it is for me to be more relatable to the Kenyan audience because I know Kenyans listen to international music all the time! If they can accept non -Kenyan music, they can and should accept a Kenyan artist who does international or any other genre of music as well. Is it a bad thing to have a Kenyan born artist aspire to be heard on a global scale? That would be amazing, if you ask me!
You’re currently working as an independent artist, does it give you more control over your music?
Yes, it does. I can literally wake up and decide to release all my unheard music if I want! That would not be a good move obviously, but it is the kind of freedom that comes with being independent.
Do you have dreams of getting signed to a label or you’re down for being an independent musician?
It is about what will make more sense for me in the long run. I love to work in a team with passionate and like-minded people so if I am presented with a nice deal from a label, I will consider it!
Talking of ‘Lotto Love’, how was it working with Sdee?
It is a great experience. Sdee and I get along very well, and it was easy to work on this collaboration and share ideas on how to keep pushing the song. Lotto Love is one of my most favourite songs that I have ever written. I wrote it within half an hour and Sdee did a freestyle for his verse and it turned out amazing!
From ‘Pull Up’ to ‘Lotto Love’, how has your sound changed over the years?
My sound has evolved quite a lot over the years. Pull Up is actually an evolved form of my sound as I actually used to write and sing RnB and Pop type of music. Lately, I am obsessed with the African drum and kicks. It feels very natural for me to make feel-good Afro-beat type of songs. I think I will stay in this lane for quite a bit and keep finding a way of making it my own!
Are you seeing someone? What are some of the traits you look for in a partner? What turns you off on a potential date?
When someone puts a ring on it, then I will speak of him. My ideal partner has to be very supportive, open-minded, a music lover, have a good sense of humour and style and a free spirit. My biggest turn off is a showy man, you know the ones who they feel a need to tell/show everything they got going on just to impress. Like sir, please take several seats…
Who’s your celebrity crush?
That is a secret lol
How would you describe your style of dressing?
My fashion sense is a mix of comfy almost tomboy looks and fitting outfits that are stylish and sexy! It’s the Gemini in me! I also custom make some of my outfits and I try to create one of a kind clothing.
I would love to encourage everyone to pursue what feels authentic to them. We cannot run from our purpose forever, no matter how hard we try. I would also ask for us to be more supportive of all types of Kenyan artists! It’s all art and does not need to be subjective…Let’s not miss on a chance to elevate one of our own to international success!