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shakka

INTERVIEW: SHAKKA

MOBO meets the man behind Wretch 32's catchy vocal hit 'Blackout'.

Meet Shakka the artist....the extraordinary musician, the musical genius who is storming the UK airwaves because Shakka's talent is that undeniable!

For all the people that don't know you, who is Shakka?

Shakka is a singer-songwriter/producer, born in West London’s Notting Hill to Caribbean parents who know the power and the emphasis of a good slipper (laughs loudly). I have been singing, songwriting and producing since I was 15. I brought out the Foolishness Vol.1. EP in 2009 , then I brought out The Shakka Crown Affair in 2011. That was me acting like I stole 50 pieces of arts from a wide variety of different places: Coldplay Jay Z, Young Money, Calvin Harris. In 2012 I released a series of acapella YouTube videos which I called Shakkapellas, essentially me doing cover songs from a bunch of different people. Since then I've been making music with people like Wretch, Basement Jaxx, Etta Bond, Tanya Lacey and Angel.

Let’s talk about your hit song “Blackout” featuring Wretch 32.  How did that collaboration come about and were you surprised by its level of success?

I was definitely surprised by its success. Obviously it’s Wretch so I expect it from him, but for me it was like ‘What the hell? Where has this come from?’

Wretch sent me the beat around November time. I heard it and immediately fell in love with it. I’d never heard anything like it, it sounded so fresh and African-influenced, it was tribal, and it was beautiful. I jumped on YouTube immediately and watched Tarzan and The Jungle Book. I was like ‘OK cool, I got enough here’, and I started writing. The song in itself feels like it has an absence of electricity, it feels like there’s no artificial stuff that’s been added, so I thought, ‘What better way to represent that than to describe a blackout and the beauty of natural sunlight?’ That’s where the idea came from.

You’re now a YouTube star in your own right. BBC Radio 1’s Sara Cox called you a YouTube legend, how did that feel?

Justin Bieber is a YouTube legend. If people are looking at YouTube and are looking for people who racked up views, then you would definitely class him as a legend. But it was very humbling to hear someone like Sara Cox say that to me.

How did you come up with the Shakkappella concept?

You do that with every sound as a producer, you do cool things with sounds in your head all the time. When you hear one song you sometimes sing the lyrics of that over another beat. So I just thought ‘Ok this will work with beat boxing’ and that’s where it came from. I just thought ‘What would go good with 212?’ and then ‘Oh snap’. It’s just the rave that goes on in my head.

Do you think your mind runs differently to other people?

I’d like to believe so. I guess I take pride in ideas that I think are cool, like Shakkapellas. The songs I've put out- the style, the elements, and influences that I take from- I’d like to believe I've taken things from different places. So I don’t mind that I’m considered different and creative.

Do you think the slipper helped with your work ethic?

Yes without a shadow of doubt. I now know how to finish things and cook for myself because of the slipper.

What was touring with Basement Jaxx like and what was the crowd like in Japan?

It was probably the greatest feeling I've had so far. No one knows what it’s like to be able to communicate with 10,000 people at once. I'm a fan of Japanese animation and different parts of their culture so I was excited when I was on stage. I even tested out my Japanese.

You have a new EP coming out in July. Why did you call it Tribe, and what can fans expect?

Tribe EP is essentially me paying homage to people who believe they were ‘Inbetweeners’. People who were just themselves and not afraid to say they liked a bit of everything. They weren't nerds, they weren't hipsters, they weren’t grime MCs or roadman or cheerleaders. They weren't afraid to wear skinny jeans and Jordans at the time when no-one wore that stuff. These people have no label or description. I gravitate with a lot of these so I said ‘Yeah, we the tribe, we just do because it feels right’. I’d like to think that the EP represents that.

What do you think you bring to the UK music scene?

My accent is something I take pride in, even if I’m rapping or singing.

I try and delve deeper into music by thinking of genres such as soca and rock and mixing them together. I think those elements are what I bring to the scene.

What are your thoughts on the UK urban scene?

I love it! I love it because a lot of us aren’t afraid to say ‘This is who I am. This is who I represent’. The Afrobeats scene, the UK Trap scene and Labrinth’s Electronic Earth… a bunch of different projects are testament to that ethos, the idea of being something that we want to represent, telling the story we want to tell. With YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, we’re able to do that without thinking about what a governing body is going to say about it. The urban scene right now is in a beautiful place. We were lucky enough to have people like So Solid and Roll Deep who paved the way.

I can hear the reggae influence in your music, are you going to explore the genre further? Do you think there is room for reggae in the current music scene?

Without a doubt. Bob Marley and Dennis Brown are inspirations of mine. There’s so many elements of reggae that are overlooked, especially when you think about the history and the dub influences. There will definitely be space for me to experiment with it.

You featured on MTV’S ‘Top 20 Unsigned’, how did that feel?

That was tied in with the “Blackout” single and the new followers I got from working with Basement Jaxx and Delilah and other people. It’s a really good feeling, really cool to know that people gravitate towards the music to the point where they will tweet about it and spread it to their friends. It’s reassuring when I go back into the studio and start from scratch.

What would it feel like to win a MOBO?

I’d probably start crying (laughs). I've been watching the MOBOs since I was a kid and I've seen all sorts of different performances, from Beanie Man to Angel. It's inspiring to see a lot of different people who are from my background able to do something like that.

MOBO is 18 this year. What advice would you give your 18 year old self?

Here’s where I get cheesy: “Do not give up, continue being exactly who you are, don't change, just make the song that you said you was gonna make, record the ideas you said you were gonna record, and perform in the same extravagant but weird and uncomfortable way that you have been doing for the past 16/17 years, because people like you for it.”

Tell us something random about yourself?

I studied computer science for three years, so outside of music I was a nerd for three years. Number crunching is long. I prefer acting the ass in front of as many people as possible. It’s more risky and more fun; at least I can look back and be like ‘yah man’ (laughs).

You don't look like you studied computer science…

Yeah they don’t look like me, but it was cool. I was surprised.

Who would be your dream collaborations?

Daft Punk, Coldplay, Kendrick Lamar, Adele, Pharrell Williams, Lianne La Havas. And I’ve been lucky enough to have been in the studio with Basement Jaxx.

Beyonce or Rihanna?

Rihanna.

Michael Jackson or Prince?

Prince.

Really?

Yes, this is coming from a die-hard fan. Musically I just gravitate to Prince more.

Sum up your music in three words…

Energy Caribbean eclectic.

Sum up MOBO in three words

Inspiring, exciting, educational.

Author: 

Simone Elesha Edwards/Sam Gould