Exclusive Interview with Shai Sevin

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So Shai Sevin, tell us a little about yourself, where are you from? 

Ahhh man, there is too much to say, how much time do we both have? Lol. Well to begin with, I was born into a Mixed Asian family, my Father is from Afghanistan and my Mother is from Pakistan. I am not your typical "Engineer or Doctor" (Even though my dad is a retired one) kinda guy. I grew up in London, predominantly in South West London. Growing up as an only child, I adopted my own siblings, well friends along the way who came from different backgrounds, mainly Jamaican. London is very multicultural. I am just a product of my environment. I wouldn't say I grew up in the gutter and I wouldn't say I grew up in Buckingham Palace, I wouldn't want to grow up there in the first place haha. I'm that middle ground donny. 

When did you first become interested in music? When did you start rapping? 

Like many others, it all started from young, you are surrounded by sounds and always intrigued everytime a new sound comes along. If I remember correctly and I hope this isn't a Mandela Effect moment, I was a toddler and my parents would always have the radio on in the kitchen and car. Always tuned into Sunrise Radio, a well known station that played Bollywood songs from the 40s, 50s to present day. I still remember the jingle “Get up and get going, with Sunrise Morning Crew…” lol. I wasn't paying attention but I know subconsciously I was being fed classic songs from classic films. With such great artists like Lata Mangeshkar, Muhammad Rafi and Kishore Kumar to name but a few. I found some 12" Vinyls of them the other day. In the early 90s I found out that I shared a Birthday with Michael Jackson, that was it. Michael Jackson is now my cousin. Not one soul could tell me different lol. Pop was my thing, I wished of being in a Boy Band, I know right? I still do, nah I'm playing lol. Back to MJ, I stole a TDK Cassette Tape from my uncle which had the “Dangerous” album on it. Fast forward a few years later, my uncles would play Hip-Hop albums. They had “The Score” by The Fugees and “All Eyez On Me” by Tupac on repeat in the car. That was kinda like my first taste of Rap. I like creative writing in Primary School so rhyming patterns mezzed me all the time. The first ever Rap I wrote was called “Like a Fugitive”, don’t know who I was running from? Lol. I think I was 12/13 years old, I didn’t have a clue what I was writing, maybe I did, who knows?. The worst part is, I had the most confused American accent when I rapped, thinking about it now is very cringe. Well that was all I knew as what sounded right.

When it comes to your lyrics, what inspires you?

To be honest, each song has a different approach. When I was younger I would write without a beat, just words randomly put together on a piece of paper with no thought. Now I have experiences of life, so that can give me ideas. Could be something that has happened to me, simply a feeling that people can relate to. Relationships, Jobs, Travels etc. Anything can trigger an idea. When I listen back to songs or verses I wrote throughout the last decade, I was writing a lot about a dark place that I was in, which was my alcoholism. I am clean now but listening back to It, I was actually crying for help without even knowing. So that just shows you how life's problems and successes can inspire me to write.

What do you consider your biggest accomplishment?

Beating my Addiction of Alcohol has to be top of the list, if not the only thing on the list most definitely. 15+ years of alcohol abuse, man what a long and horrible place to be in for a large chunk of my life. I am extremely proud of that achievement. Got to love my Family and Friends for the continuous support. It was not easy but, Wahey I made it this far. Got to stay focussed and keep going for the rest of my life. The music industry played a huge part in that. There are some evil people out there. So getting rid of those toxic people helped me a lot. Still have PTSD but I got balls of steel now lol. So yeah that is the Biggest Accomplishment for mois. 

What do you look for in beats you’re selecting?

DRUMS!!! Lol. No honestly, the drum groove and most importantly the selection of sounds. If the sounds are whack, It’s a no from me. I got to be making an ugly face when I hear that beat, the syncopated patterns and percussion. Even thinking about it now got me snapping my neck. The reason and story behind this is a good one. As one of the founding members of a group I was in called Feng Shui, I was the guy who made the music. I was the only one who had a PC, I brought one back from Pakistan in 1999, still have it and it still works. The Internet wasn’t really used how it is now back then, that’s why it still does. One of the members, Fontzerelli, was the one who actually showed me about Black music, The Culture and the Production side, not just writing. I was fascinated. I used to love melodies a lot then, they used to call me String Man, cause that was the first thing I would use when I was creating lol. Mind you I had no clue on how to produce. As I started to get better, I felt more confident. One day Fontz goes to me, and I will never forget this, “Where’s the bass? Where’s the drums I can’t hear nothing, Your Drums Are Shit”. I will forever thank him for this. He pissed me off sooo much that now, my drum game is crazy. So yeah the Drums have to be amazing and grab my attention and then the rest gets heard eventually. 

What's the best piece of advice that has been ever given to you?

I can’t remember if someone said this to me or I heard it somewhere else, however or wherever I came across it, I use it all the time “Don’t be afraid to ask Questions”. Oh and Allan advised me to always “Listen”. So basically, No Question is Dumb. When you’re are younger you don’t want to be judged or made fun of because you think if you ask something, others will laugh at you, all because you think you sound stupid. It took me a long while but when I got it, I got it. Now “Listen” is a skill I learnt from Allan. You can learn from being quiet. Oh snap, how can I forget Sir Richard Bransons Quote, “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later”. That is exactly how I ended up here. In 2005, A guy who I can now say is a friend, Mr Moe Musa, invited Feng Shui to his uncle's Skillz show and DVD called “Have You Got Skillz?” We performed, networked and met Stylo G, who was already working with Skillz at the time. We exchanged details and eventually Stylo invited us to the Studio in Borough. I got introduced to Randy from Big Brovaz, Stylo told him and nearly everyone there that I am a dope Engineer. Nope I was far from. I made beats on Fruity Loops on the same PC, I had no idea how to use Apple Mac. Long story short. Randy said to me “Here you go, you can start tomorrow” and handed me the keys… I paused and then Sir Richard Bransons quote popped into my head, the rest is history. So, “Don’t be afraid to ask questions” “Listen” and what he said lol.

What’s one artist you would like to work with and why?

Depends from which era, I assume you mean now. If so, I would love to work with Kay Young.

She just feels relatable and so cultured, and her voice, tone, approach to subject matters and just basically, fucking dope. 

This one has got a funny story to it lol. When I was in a bubble and dark place, I didn’t really know what music was out there then and became out of touch until recent times. Every now and then CHOZE would show me new music and keep me updated from the outside world lol. During that time I worked with a lot of people and was very well known in the industry but I was none the wiser. Fast forward to now. Allan said to me. “Yo, look you are in a better place now. You need to start listening to music again”. I listened. lol. He sent me a link to Kay Young's music. I was like yoooo, this girl is fiiiireee. Something in my head was like why have I never heard of her before but I feel like I have. I’m listening to her stuff getting into it properly. Proper catching vibes. A few days pass. Facebook memories popped up. I clicked on it and then Boom. A post came up and yup, we have both worked with each other already lol. We featured on the same track called “Icons” by Thaimatic… in 2012. You can’t make this up I swear. So yeah I would love to work with her (Again). I am putting it out in the universe. She is just such a dope Artist. Yeah that is what she is. An Artist.

Talk me through a typical day for Shai Sevin.

I wake up early, check the time, tell myself to go back to bed for another 10 minutes… that doesn’t happen. This is the sad part and I know everyone can relate, I check all my socials. See if there is any activity going on, I have a shower. Usually Allan has already messaged me to go over what has been done and what needs to be done. I turn my Macbook on, check emails. If I made a beat or song the night before, I listen with fresh ears, because ears can be deceiving when you are tired and creating hahaha. Back and Forth on the phone with Allan. We end up talking for ages and start brainstorming like crazy. Ideas just flow. If the day is free or not I like to put a few beats on my phone. Whilst on my travels, I have one on repeat in my headphones. I start looping ideas for lyrics in my head, when I have something like a line or two I just vibe with it for a bit. Sometimes I just take the Bus or Tube from one end to the other, away from everything, just coming up with songs or whatever. When I am happy with the few bars I have, I like to head home to record and lay the idea I have down onto Logic and keep recording the rest as I go along. Usually I have a Chorus or an 8 Bar of the verse sketched out. I bounce off what I have and leave it, send it over to Allan and/or CHOZE and get an opinion. If they like it then I know I am going in the right direction.

Then I get hungry lol. Then it’s time to unwind by watching random stuff on Youtube and Netflix.

Then it’s Groundhog day, only Joking. I mean that’s just an outline, days vary.

Where exactly do you see yourself 5 years down the road?

Good question. I see myself still clean from Alcohol, I don’t smoke anymore either, so that too.

Hopefully, start a family one day. Still taking care of business and starting new ventures outside of the entertainment industry. I can't just get away from Music like that though, Music is and will always remain in my life. I will still be running my successful label “7th AVNU”, signing some amazing talent, not just to develop and showcase to the World, to also help them achieve their goals and teach them how to build businesses for themselves. To be honest, tomorrow I may have different things to add on to this list so yeah. I am gonna have to get back to you on that lol.

What are your thoughts on how things are going in the music industry right now?

There is an extreme lack of in fact no respect for the creators of the arts. Money is being stolen from us left, right and centre. These streaming platforms are just terrible and absolute frauds in my opinion. Lot’s of creators are losing faith and passion in what they do because of this. It’s sad that we are having to fight to get paid for our own work, I repeat, our own work. It has had a huge impact on everyone. From established artists who are sending letters to the government about the situation we are in, in regards to royalties and so on. I mean if the high end established artists are struggling and outraged, think about what the independents are going through right now. Imagine spending all that time, investing so much money on equipment, rehearsals etc only to be paid less than minimum wage. Drop me out.

Creatively though, I have a love, hate relationship with just one thing, and that is Quantity over Quality. 24,000 songs get uploaded every single day, how is a Star to be found? No one has an identity anymore. A&Rs are not doing their jobs properly… there is no development of the artist at all, just a “How many views or streams have they got” mentality. The narrative of Black Music that is being pushed heavily by Major Labels needs to change. 


Any new projects coming out soon? & what can we expect from these projects?

They do say “There are a few things in the Pipeline for sure, just wait and see”. So I am just gonna follow suit lol.

Thank you very much for your time, Shai Sevin. Anything else you want to add? How can your fans get in contact with you?

No, thank you for taking out the time to ask me some great questions. Really enjoyed it.

Do you know what? You got me thinking, I have to come up with a name for my fans, you know how Beyonce has the BeeHive lol It will come naturally I guess ha. Well they can hit me up using @iamshaisevin on all social platforms. “Whoopsie!!!”

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