Interview – The Gracefulness of Singer-Songwriter Shanika Maria
Originally from Hamilton, Ontario, Shanika Maria is a young up and coming singer-songwriter. Releasing her first EP Childish Games in 2017, Shanika’s songs have an eclectic folk/pop vibe that’s impossible to categorize. The melody, lyrics and attention to detail has the listener in a trance that you rarely hear elsewhere. The closest to be able to describe her style is like a blend of Florence and the Machine and Nina Simone. “A Proud Woman”, the second single from her upcoming album Subtle Uncertainties just got released October 19th 2018. It opens with a narrator daring to be vulnerable in the face of new love. We sat down with the singer to talk a bit more about her inspirations and her work as an artist.
What type of music do you perform?
I originally was playing folk and acoustic music, performing my original music with a mic and an acoustic guitar. My first EP really embodied my solo performance. It was very stripped down, minimalistic and vocal heavy with accompanying guitar. On that album I played guitar and piano. Lately I've been performing a more eclectic array of genres that borrow from pop, dark country, beach rock, r&b and jazz. I've been able to add new elements and interpretation to the music I write by incorporating these styles. My first album that’s coming out really shows the growth of my writing process and my development as an artist.
What first got you into recording music?
I started recording music in my bedroom as a teenager. Around the middle of highschool, I would use my laptop camera and record songs and put them on youtube. That was my first taste of recording music. Around the same time, I began playing around on garageband, recording rough versions of songs with my vocals, guitar, and adding harmonies. I started performing as a solo artist a couple years ago. I really wanted to do a record and release it - to have a snapshot of where I was at musically at that point in time. Out of that, came Childish Games.
Have you had the chance to tour and/or perform any shows? If so, what has the experience been?
I have performed in Hamilton, Toronto and in Victoria. My experience has been mostly positive. I really enjoy performing even though I do get really nervous before shows. My best performances are when I escape into the world of my music and it becomes this really intimate experience.
When did you realize this was something you wanted to do?
I've always been interested in music as a hobby. I never thought it would be something I would pursue. 6 years ago I was asked to sing back up vocals for a band. From then on, I really enjoyed performing. I decided to start performing solo and for the past two years, make it something I actually pursue.
Is anyone in your family a musician?
Not really, both my parents have dabbled on the guitar and my sister played piano as a child, but none of them have really continued playing music.
How do you find the music industry in Toronto?
I think it can be very daunting navigating the music scene in Toronto especially as a solo act. There are many artists with similar styles and it's hard to stand out. I think focusing on what I'm doing is the only way to keep level headed about it all, but I'm still figuring it out.
Who are some of your musical influences?
I have a lot of musical influences, like Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Joni Mitchell, Emily Haines, Feist, Lianna La Havas, Marvin Gaye, and there's a lot more.
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