I got the opportunity of interviewing Shan malaika over the week, An amazing singer! Check out what we talked about!
Shan Malaika is also swiss based student.
Hi shan, how are you doing? thanks for doing this, Welcome to YHP
Hello! I’m great thanks. Thanks for having me, I’m honoured!
Can you quickly give me some background information about yourself?
I’m a Tanzanian girl who grew up in Switzerland. I’m studying there at the moment. English is my mother tongue and I mysteriously have a fairly strong American accent :D
So how did you get involved in music?
Music was always an inherent part of me as long as I can remember. I sang my first solo to Michael Jackson’s “Heal the World” at 5 years old, was always in the school choir and I learned to play the piano by ear at a young age. It was something that came very naturally to me and I’m really grateful to God for that.
When it comes to the actual songwriting process, has it been harder to write songs based around certain subjects than to write songs that would be on more personal subjects for you?
Songwriting can be very cathartic and I think that’s why a lot of people find it easier to write about personal experiences or feelings. Since the age of 10 it’s been a form of therapy to create songs out of all my personal experiences throughout my adolescence. But I’ve also been put in the situation whereby I’ve been given a certain subject to write about and have done it.
It hasn’t been any harder; I think once you get into the swing of songwriting you can write about anything. But I am less attached to the songs I have written that didn’t come from personal experiences and I think the personal songs will come off as more real, heartfelt and sincere.
Why and when did you start uploading videos on youtube?
My first upload, a cover of “Someone Like Me” by Atomic Kitten, was on the 6th of July 2009. I actually created a youtube account in November 2007 as some friends had pitched the idea to me that I post videos, but I was always too afraid and could never do it. A particular friend of mine was very persistent on the matter and gave me a deadline, and I finally found the guts somewhere to upload something.
What are some of the opportunities using social media to promote your music has brought you?
I’ve worked with some popular Youtube artists such as Nick Pitera and Lisa Lavie, was a part of the We Are The World 2010 remake, which gained news coverage in the USA, featured on Perez Hilton's blog and have received positive feedback from celebrities like Taio Cruz and Shontelle. All of this from singing in my bedroom! The internet truly is powerful!
If you could open for anyone who would it be and why?
One of the people I’d love to open for Rihanna, because she’s a world renowned recording artist with a fanbase that ranges in age groups, and her music is predominantly pop but with a lot of other influences. I think my music is aimed at a wide audience and I love dabbling in all sorts of genres of music from acoustic folk to rock and motown, so I feel like there’d be a little something for everyone to enjoy at her show.
What is the best advice that you have ever been given?
Value yourself. Fear God. Never compromise your values. Work hard.
Who were your major influences, internationally and locally?
Justin Nozuka, Leona Lewis, John Mayer, Lauryn Hill, Michael Jackson…
What has been the best moment of your music career so far?
I think being on Youtube in general has been a huge highlight of my music career- posting videos online definitely took my music career to new heights – I might even go as far to say it’s what really started my music career to begin with! It’s enabled me to generate a worldwide fanbase and get in contact with some other great artists. Ever since I started posting videos, I’ve taken my music a lot more seriously in general.
How would you best describe your vocal style?
Hmm… I’d say soulful…but adaptable to many styles.
What is, or has been the biggest obstacle you have faced as female artist?
Honestly speaking, a female artist is appreciated for her vocal ability but sometimes even more importantly her image and beauty. Some female artists have gained success due to their looks, image & sexuality rather than their actual talent and the harsh truth is that sometimes people won’t give your music a chance because they don’t like the way you look. I’ve personally faced a lot of criticism regarding my appearance on the internet and I think it’s challenging to get people to focus on the voice and message rather than appearance.
What do you do when you have free time?
Study. I’m a massive nerd. And spending time with friends and family. My life is actually constantly a little hectic but I like it that way :)
What tips do you have for aspiring musicians, especially those that are too shy to put videos on youtube?
Any aspiring musician should be strong to handle inevitable criticism and discouragement, stay focused, passionate and most importantly, stay true to themselves. As for people who want to post youtube videos: go for it! I don’t think people have anything to lose by posting videos online.
I’ve learned a lot about myself, singing technique and just society in general – it’s been a very eye opening experience. I feel like I’ve become a lot more thick skinned and driven, and it's awesome having a creative outlet. I’ve also made a lot of friends from all over the globe. I'm so grateful for all of it. It’s definitely worth it!
What's next for shan, what should we be expecting from you next?
Lots…and I mean LOTS of original material. I have over ten years worth of songs that have gathered dust on the shelf and I finally have the resources to bring them to life for people around the world. I hope people are excited to hear what I have to say :D