Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Shanaaz. I’m a singer and songwriter that creates r&b music. Born and raised in Toronto/Mississauga. I’ve been singing and writing poetry all my life, coming from a very musical family. My Grandfather played piano in India for movies, and all my fathers’ sisters were singers in Bangladesh, so music has always been in my blood. Singing has always been my passion but I never really took it too seriously since culturally it’s not a reliable source of income and not a well-respected career. When I was younger I was bullied a lot for everything along with being left out and feeling as if I was worthless. I thought that doing music would just be another waste of my time and it was too big of a dream for me to accomplish, but I realized that as I got older that I couldn’t deny myself from what I was made to do. I went to school for Event Management for 2 years, and during my second year of the not so enjoyable time of school, I decided to take music seriously and take vocal lessons, along with starting to write songs. Currently, I have 5 songs out and a music video.
How did you get into music?
I come from a family of singers with all my dads’ sisters singing and my grandfather who was a pianist in India for movies, therefore music is in my blood. I’ve been singing for my whole life and doing music professionally for 3 years. I went to school for hospitality but I realized that I wouldn’t be happy with life if I don’t do music.
How would you describe your musical style?
I’ve been told my music sound like older R&B and I have been compared to Aaliyah and Kehlani. I would consider my music to be “R&B” in the generic term, but there are definitely hints of trap, neo-soul and hip-hop in each song. I love a handful of music so making one genre wouldn’t really fulfill me creatively.
What can you tell us about your latest single, “Your Eyes”?
The song “Your Eyes” is about someone who I consider a player or for lack of a better word, a “F*ck boy”. Someone you don’t want to get involved with unless you want to have your emotions played with and feelings disregarded. At the beginning of the song, I talk about how he’s “acting like a fool” and I knew the game he was playing, but as the song goes on, it’s evident that I had fallen for him, even though I thought I couldn’t. It’s never a great feeling when you finally meet someone you share an amazing connection with but you realize they’re not the right person or they don’t feel the same way. This track is real to me because it was a learning experience. I was naïve to think that someone who claimed I was special couldn’t treat me so poorly and constantly disrespect me. Things happen in life, but as long as we learn from it, we’re growing and that’s what life’s all about. I titled the song “Your Eyes” because just how the song starts with me saying “Your Eyes”, a connection with someone starts with simple eye contact. I consider writing music therapy, especially after a bad situation. It shows me that there can be a light at the end of the tunnel.
What can audiences expect from your upcoming album?
I’m excited to say that the next project I am currently working on is my first EP. I’m hoping to form it into more of a story or a piece, with poetry and music with a darker vibe, rather than just a collection of songs. The EP will have 6-8 songs on it and I am aiming to release it by March/April 2020.
Do you have any live shows coming up? What’s the audience experience like at one of those shows?
At the moment I am trying to build my stage presence and create a stronger show so I’m not performing as much, but I do have one show coming up on November 23rd at the Smiling Buddha in Toronto. You can expect audience engagement, a little dancing, and a smooth voice to soothe your ears. I enjoy having fun on stage along with the audience and creating a memorable show.
What types of artists are you inspired by?
I have a few artists I’m inspired by for different reasons. Firstly, in terms of voice and melody, a huge influence for me at the moment is Summer Walker. I like how her melodies don’t follow the same kind of structure as my music. I like to follow a pattern and a structure when I’m writing, and Summer Walkers music inspires me to switch it up and challenge myself. In terms of writing, I aspire to be like Frank Ocean. I like how his lyrics aren’t always easy to understand and you have to think a little deeper to get it. They’re also subjective, so everyone can make their own interpretation.
What advice would you have for aspiring singers/songwriters?
The voice is a muscle, so it’s super important for singers to get professional training. Just like an athlete has a coach, vocalists need someone more experienced to learn how to use and train the muscle. For songwriters, co-writing is always a good way to learn more about yourself and others. It may change your process and evolve you as a writer.
What’s your life like outside of music?
If I could do music full-time, I would but at the moment I have a side hustle. I work part-time at a bank, which is the complete opposite of music, I know. It’s something stable at the moment which offers me benefits and a good career path (if music doesn’t go as planned, of course). Working at a bank has taught me a lot about money, finances, math and people skills, which I am grateful for. Its evolved me into a multi-faceted person.
Let the readers know where to find you online.
Instagram: @shnaz_, DM me your favorite song of mine!