Boston's Rising R&B Artist: Shaya
Shaya has had a very eventful year so far. From her song being played on the radio to being nominated as Boston's R&B artist of the year, we just to find out what more is in store for Shaya. As we continue to see Shaya's growth, she shared her roots, creative processes, and what's in store for the future. Read our conversation below with Shaya and see what else she has to offer.
Boston Culture: How long have you been singing for? When did this become something you are passionate about?
Shaya: I’ve been singing my entire life. The first song I actually remember singing is Britney Spears’ “Baby One More Time.” My family is from Sri Lanka and my mom was a music teacher- so from a young age, I was trained vocally and instrumentally in Carnatic music, which is a huge part of my culture. I always knew I loved to sing but I was shy about it growing up and would rarely sing outside of the shower. It wasn’t until I was at camp one summer in high school where I was singing in the communal showers and I walked out to a full audience of campers cheering me on about my shower performance. That was the moment I realized I wanted to start pursuing it seriously, so I auditioned for my high school A cappella group and got in my junior year, becoming the music director the same year. I continued on into the A cappella scene in college where I had the opportunity to compete in the 2016 International Championship of Collegiate A cappella (ICCA) Finals with my team.
After graduating college, I hit a point where I wasn’t musically involved whatsoever for the first time in my life. It honestly felt like a part of me was dying because I wasn’t a part of any type of musical group. But when COVID hit, I finally had the free time to start pursuing music passionately. I began writing, producing, and recording myself, which eventually led to me releasing my first album in the summer of 2020. I love being an independent artist so much that I haven’t stopped making music since. Music has helped me get through every difficult time in my life, especially quarantine. Singing is the best way I can express myself through my own music and lyrics. It’s therapy for me. The power it has in reaching and relating to people is what makes me so passionate about my art.
Boston Culture: You give off very strong Jhené Aiko vibes. Is she one of the people you are influenced by musically? Who else influences you, if any?
Shaya: I love Jhené. She definitely inspires me and her music speaks to me in a way I can’t even put into words. I do think we have very similar vibes and I’m always flattered when people compare me to her. However, I take pride in owning my own sound, so I try not to be anyone but myself. Other artists I draw influence from are Alina Baraz, Summer Walker, Sabrina Claudio, Ariana Grande, Tame Impala, and (((O))).
Boston Culture: What has been your biggest accomplishment so far in your music career? How far do you want to take it?
Shaya: My biggest accomplishments so far have been getting my song “Trust Issues Remix” played on JAM’N 94.5 earlier this year and being nominated as Boston Music Awards’ R&B artist of the year just a few days ago. These were actually two of my top goals for this year that I have been working extremely hard to achieve. I want to do this for the rest of my life so the plan is to keep up the grind and hustle. I hope to make the billboard charts one day.
"My dream is to hear my songs on every radio station in the country. I want my art to resonate and inspire others when they listen to it."
Boston Culture: Tell us about your writing process. How do you create music?
Shaya: My writing process depends on inspiration. I like to draw from real life experiences, moments, and relationships because it translates to more genuine and authentic music. I usually start with meditating on a thought or idea, which leads me to writing down every emotion or feeling I associate with that idea. Sometimes, it takes me days to write a song and other times it takes me minutes. It all depends on what is going on in my life at that moment and how strongly I feel about it. I usually start by picking out a beat or producing one myself. Then comes melodies, which are my favorite part about the music creation process. Next, I try to combine my thoughts into the melodies to create the lyrics and flow. Once I have a flow for each section of the song, I piece everything together and a song is born.
Boston Culture: Do you produce all of your music?
Shaya: I produce half of all my records. I have found that I work best when I have full control over the entire production of my songs. I love producing because you get to birth a project to life and see it progress from start to finish. This is a heavily male dominated industry so as a female producer, I love inspiring more women to be their own producers. However, it does get tedious sometimes and distracts from just being an artist. As artists, I feel like we have so many hats to wear. We are our own producers, managers, songwriters, engineers, social media managers, designers, and promoters. So sometimes it takes a lot of work off my plate if I can find a beat I vibe with instead of making one from scratch.
Boston Culture: If you could collaborate with any artist, who would it be?
Shaya: I would totally love to collaborate with Tame Impala one day. It would be such a dream. I’m obsessed with their vibe and sound. He’s so talented and never misses.
Boston Culture: What are your goals entering 2022? Let’s start manifesting that now.
Shaya: My biggest goal for 2022 is releasing my album “Universe” in January. It is a short, 5 song EP that describes my spiritual journey. I plan on having an album release party sometime that month as well. Another goal I have is to do more live performances at venues, events, and restaurants around the Boston area. I plan on moving to Los Angeles sometime in 2022 to really get my music out there and meet more creatives who will help me grow.
Boston Culture: Are there any upcoming projects that we should be on the lookout for?
Shaya: Yes! “Universe” drops in early 2022. It’s my second EP that I’m so excited to share with the world. Be on the lookout for my single dropping sometime in December before the album release in January.
We appreciate the time Shaya took into answering these questions for us as she manages her music career. We are excited to listen to her upcoming EP alongside other new music she has on the way.
Listen to her music, now on Apple Music and Spotify.
Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/us/artist/shaya/1512362435
Follow Shaya on her socials: