INTERVIEW: Alternative R&B Singer SHANTÉH

Hi SHANTÉH, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hey! Thanks for having me. I’ve been doing alright, I can’t complain. I‘ve just been chilling, self-isolating and what not.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “King”?

Yeah sure! So King is an alternative R&B song with an Afrobeat feel. It features the amazing Josh Kye and the song was produced by the genius Val-Verrel and really, it’s an anthem of declaration… Reminding yourself of who you really are and who you were created to be… A king (or queen).

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

I don’t know if was a particular event, but I would say it was a journey I was on (and still on) that inspired it. I had come out of a really hard time in my life where I felt like I wasn’t really accepted and I wasn’t allowed to truly express myself. I had to talk to God and ask Him to remind me of who He’d created me to be… Once I did that, I felt free and strong and I basically wrote down all of the things that God says that I am and all the gifts that I have and it was simple. The peace I feel now is beautiful and I want to share that peace with others.

How was the filming process and experience behind the video?

That was a lot of fun! I had a vision for it – not much of a budget though – and spoke to Chima Nathan (awesome director and one of the nicest people to work with) and he got what I was going for straight away. We just had to find a way to execute it so we ended up filming the video in my living room! Chima brought his equipment from home in an Uber and I hired some lights and a smoke machine off of Fat Llama and sewed loads of fabric together. We draped it around, hung up some fairy lights I got from Primark, put some plants out and that was it! It was long as we filmed it from the afternoon straight into the next day but it was so worth it and I’m proud. That video was the true meaning of ‘working with what you’ve got.’

The single comes off your new album Sunshine – what’s the story behind the title?

So Sunshine is about the journey to becoming your elevated self and I wanted listeners to be able to visualise that journey through different parts of the day. Sunshine illuminates even the darkest of places and regardless of what’s going on in life, once you start to rediscover who you are, discipline yourself and walk in that knowledge, you emit such a light… You become Sunshine.

How was the recording and writing process?

It was so different to how I’ve created in the past. Usually I’ll be able to bang out the lyrics straight away or I’d hear the instruments and know what goes where and it’s easy. This time, I felt like I had no control over it as I was in a completely new phase of my life. The things I would write about wouldn’t be the same, the people I worked with wouldn’t be the same but I feel like I’ve created some of my best music. Working with Val-Verrel has been such a pleasure. He has challenged me to create outside of my comfort zone and to be really be free. We would have conversations that would then inspire the next idea and conversations that would help me get out of my head so that we could produce the best results. We’d pray and have dreams where God was literally playing us the instruments and their melody line that we should put on a song. Then we’d read a scripture and the whole idea would just start to make sense… Everything began to fall into place.

What role does South London play in your music?

So I was born and bred in South London. My grandparents came over from Jamaica and lived in Brixton and so I can call it home. You’ll hear it in the way that I sing, the words that I say, the sounds that we create… I’m grateful to have been raised here as it’s helped me to become the person I am, but I have to pay tribute to my culture and heritage as where I come from has influenced not just South London, but the whole world.

What aspect of royalty did you get to explore on this record?

I explored royalty from the aspect of spirituality and my faith… Revelation 1:6 really.

Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

As well my faith, I was inspired by a lot of anime, nature, and the studying various languages and texts. For example, when writing Ascension which is the second track on the EP, I happened to be reading up on the mythical tale of the Phoenix and I ended up coming across text from the Jewish books referencing it. It matched the intention of the song so much that I used it in the beginning of the track. Anime was a big deal too as a lot of the characters in their shows tend to have powers that they don’t know who to manage and are usually on a journey of self-discovery and refine their gifts and talents through discipline.

Any plans to hit the road?

Listen, I cannot wait to tour! I definitely want to play as many festivals in the UK and Ireland as I can. I’ve always wanted to play in the Caribbean of course, the US and around Europe and Africa too. I was hoping to be in Nigeria and Denmark very soon I’m praying that when everything settles down and there’s a bit more peace around the world, I can go to these places and have an amazing time.

What else is happening next in SHANTÉH’s world?

I’m already working on my next project so I’ll be recording more music, getting into creating some feature length visuals and exploring all facets of my creativity… I’m very excited!

Watch King here

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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