Michael Green Interviews... Shakila K
Here is a Q&A with singer-songwriter and performer Shakila K. She talks about her experiences in music.
Where did it all start for you getting into music?
I was a very shy child and didn't really speak to anyone, but when it came to music classes and performing, I was ready to go. My music teacher told my father when I was 4 years old I had a natural instinct for music and then when I was 8 years old, this same teacher taught me the basics of playing the piano and I learned a few songs by ear, so she suggested to my dad to have piano lessons. My dad heard me sing and when I got into secondary school my singing teacher suggested I do my grade 3 exam that year.
Who are your influences?
Vocally and for songwriting I am inspired by Mariah Carey and Michael Jackson. In terms of harmonies and adlibs I also take a lot of influence from Ariana Grande and Brandy. As a teenager I was singing to a lot of Christina Aguilera and was inspired by Amy Lee, Lady Gaga and Alicia Keys to accompany myself playing piano and singing.
I grew up on both 2000s Pop-Punk and Hip-Hop/Funk/RnB so my influences range from pop punk bands like Tonight Alive, Fall Out Boy and Panic! at the Disco to the Neptunes, Darkchild and Timbaland produced songs. In a current setting I take a lot of influence from the Weeknd, Ericdoa and Charlie XCX.
With your music where do you tend to get your inspiration from e.g how do you start your songs & what's your process?
I usually hear a specific genre, reference it and try to make my own arrangement to a song/genre I'm particularly inspired by that week. When it comes to vocal phrasing and rhythm I think "how would Michael Jackson turn this lyric into a hook?" and put my own spin on it.
In terms of introducing more musicality with writing melodies, I play around singing the lyrics in a Mariah Carey style and see how it could fit onto the song and have recently tried to use my own vocal harmonies as added pads to the production, similarly to how Brandy did it. I just keep recording with a trial and error mindset until something clicks.
How do you decide what songs to cover?
For a live performance I go for songs I know are popular and try to have alternate vocal melodies instead of singing it exactly the same way the original artist does. Both online and in person I pick songs that I know will showcase my vocal range and ability, but also upbeat so I can dance and encourage the crowd for participation. Sometimes I go for more augmented chords if I'm playing the piano and singing to make the arrangement of the song more unique to me.
How important is it, do you feel it is to listen to current music as well as music from the past?
It's very important to listen to new music and keep upto date with the changes in the industry in order to grow but also be able to create music that doesn't sound outdated. You don't necessarily have to like everything that's new but be aware of the changes and with the internet its not like you're only restricted to listening to the top 100 in the charts.
There's lots of great new music in the genres that you like. Music from the past is also important as there was definitely a different kind of discipline and education with making traditional pop music in its arrangement and how common it was in the charts to find excellent singers. Learning to perform music from the past and learning how the songs were made, will absolutely give you a different level of skills that isn't as encouraged today.
Do you feel it is important to watch other acts perform and to watch other live music?
You can always learn something from watching live performances both on a local scale and a regional/nation/international scale. It's a feeling that you see and experience in the moment which recorded music could never capture, even just seeing how different studio magic recording is compared to a live show. You can also get inspired for ideas with what/what not to do live but also experience stage presence and see how artists can (and sometimes can't) connect with the audience.
Finally, what tips do you have for anyone starting out when it comes to making music & performing live?
In terms of getting confidence you have to perform regularly in front of people. It doesn't matter even if it's 3 people every week, it's getting used to singing in front of people and letting nerves and anxiety slowly go away, as you find your performing feet. Going into performing live with a positive mindset regardless of nerves will also have a better impact than concentrating on what could go wrong and always remember to prepare for a plan B.
In terms of making music, just capture ideas if you're not comfortable with producing and writing yet. Remembering hooks are important when it comes to writing lyrics and you can always try copyright free samples to start getting an idea of what you want to produce. My biggest tip is also having reference tracks so you're not completely starting from scratch and you have some idea of where this new song could go.
Find out more about Shakila K.
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