Soon the name Siaira Shawn will be listed as one of music’s greatest up and coming artists. But don’t let that box keep you confined, Siaira’s music will probably be defined by many more genres such as R&B, Jazz, and Rock to name a few.
Few people can belt out a tune clearly and melodically at a rally, wedding, street corner, or office as well as she can with little to no strain. Relaxed and modest however, you would never know it unless you asked. California’s Bay Area has a historic body of incredible musicians and producers who have broken ground on new frontiers of music, and the business of independent music regardless of genre. Siaira is part of that legacy. If you look up her work, you’ll see she has shared the stage and beats with Bay Area fixtures such as revolutionary rhymer T-Kash (Guerilla Funk/ The Coup) and producer Nick James who is responsible for countless remixes and a few cuts for Native Gunner Bambu. You might also hear her on tracks produced by Zakiya Harris (Fiyawata).
In this interview I ask Siaira a few questions about her musical career, the future, and what inspires her as she prepares to set sail for Brooklyn, New York. Welcome Siaira Shawn to Muphoric Sounds.
MS: What does your stage name mean? How did you get it?
Siaira Shawn: My stage name is my first and middle name. Mommy gave me the first name, and she allowed my fathers choice to be my middle name.
MS: For our listeners/readers who are unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe yourself as an artist? Who are you and what do you do?
Siaira Shawn: I am a lover, an all around artist, a worker of and for the community, an aspiring renaissance woman, in the tradition of Paul Robeson and others; my ultimate expression is being a singer/songwriter.
MS: What are some of your biggest influences in terms of your songwriting and singing?
Siaira Shawn: I get influences from everywhere; from my life, others lives, culture, history, politics, nature. I want to speak of and for people. I want to speak the truth and spread love and contribute to culture. I like to make the macro, micro; I think we learn in many different ways and music is a very important tool of liberation and education.
MS: Can you tell us briefly what your first positive performing experience was like?
Siaira Shawn: One of the most important performances occurred when I was in the fourth grade and I starred in Alice in Wonderland and my solo received a standing ovation. That moment solidified that performing would be my life.
MS: You’ve performed a lot as an up and coming musician. How would you say this has changed, advanced, or influenced your craft?
Siaira Shawn:I feel like you have to perform, it’s a part of being a musician, so it’s not separate from my musicianship. Performing makes you a better artist period.
MS: How’s the music biz looking to you in 2012? Is it a grim or bright world?
Siaira Shawn: I see a very, very bright world. I think there is a lot of great music out there and it’s finally starting to get it’s due, particularly independent soul/R&B music and all the amalgamations that pull from that tradition. A lot happened for me last year, so I see 2012 as the year where things go to the next level.
MS: You’re voice and your style of delivery is beautiful and unique. I’ve noticed you have a certain flair when it comes to fashion too. Is that on purpose or is it less “thought out” or planned?
Siaira Shawn: Thank you! It’s always been apart of who I was, the women in my family are quite fashionable, even my great grandmother. I have always been into fashion and aesthetics. I actually do styling too, so I want to take that farther as well. At this point it comes naturally, but I do think about it in the way that “my look” is seen as outside the norm or unique as you said. I want to make sure that I represent who I am wholeheartedly and by doing that I can inspire others to do the same and represent for those of us on outskirts. I hope to curate images that are unique and promote culture through a venture I call “The Outsiders Inside.”