Making music was something Shamir Bailey was always passionate about. From a young age Bailey was drawn to its subsequent charm, building upon his own style and finding himself and his sound through the years. With a distant fairytale beginning, Shamir began with emailed demos to Godmode label owner Nick Sylvester and a chance. With no idea how his music would be received, Sylvester was prompt to fly him out of his Las Vegas hometown to New York and start recording. The rest is now a dreamy history. Taking off over the last few weeks after having released his debut LP Ratchet via XL Recordings and Remote Control Records, Shamir has yet to slow down. From his bouncy and addictive singles to his audacious and encompassing slow jams, we spoke with Shamir about his musical journey, Ratchet and the good vibes yet to come.
From sending demo tapes to recording in New York, your musical journey started with the chance of reaching out. How has music helped you define and embrace yourself?
It’s a good release and very therapeutic in helping me get things off my chest and stay true to myself.
You’ve nodded to Nina Simone in previous interviews as one of your inspirations, particularly with exploring your own sound and the androgyny of your style. Were their any creative obstacles or perks that arose when working your vocal ability into songwriting?
There aren’t really any vocal obstacles when it comes to my own songs cause I write them all, I think the biggest part was just wanting to actually challenge and push myself and get out of my comfort zone.
Your single ‘Darker’ is a perfect example of the range, power and expression of your voice and writing. How did you explore your artistic flexibility and androgyny in Ratchet? Did you surprise yourself in the production process?
I definitely surprised myself in the production process because it took a lot of patience and that’s something I don’t usually have much of!
I read that you grew up loving R&B, punk and country, playing in your own DIY punk duo in highschool and acknowledging your original distaste in dance music. How has experimenting allowed you to shake off musical confinements and let you be yourself?
It’s allowed me to not really care about genre and more about just making honest music that I feel people can relate to.
There’s a classic club vibe to Ratchet that is effortlessly emulated in the beats and rhythms you work with, particularly in the single ‘Call It Off’. Are there any artists you look to now for inspiration or that you would love to collaborate with?
Yeah, I would really love to work with Mac DeMarco.
From rapping sassy remarks in ‘On The Regular’ to howling emotionally heavy melodies in ‘Youth’, your debut invites fans to dance, cry and relate. How has your hometown influenced your music? Does it feel surreal to be representing those back home?
It does feel super surreal when I go back home now because I know that I’ll only be there temporarily.
There’s a lot of genre blending that can be both heard and seen in your style. Would you consider yourself an artist that reflects our generation in terms of the constantly changing attitudes, ideals and values we hold?
Yes, but I don’t think my generation is necessarily changing attitudes towards things, I think it’s more that we don’t feel the need for boundaries.
Over the past couple of months, Ratchet has completely taken off, and for good reason! What have been your biggest achievements and moments you’ve just had to step back and think, ‘wow’? And what does your Mum and Aunt think of all this?
I think it’s always crazy to me when I sell out a show, my Mom and Aunt are very proud and was able to come to my sold out show in LA.
You’ve mentioned previously that your record collection is your most prized possession. What are the first 3 records you grab to impress a new friend or special someone?
Vivian Girls – First LP
My Jandek Record – (Forget The Name)
My Blonde Redhead – Misery Is a Butterfly
Are there any shows, events or news you would like to add? Anything for Australian fans?
No shows yet, but hopefully soon!