As the next generation of teens begin to hit adulthood, a entirely new breed of musician is are starting to stake a claim on the global scene, and unlike young artists of the past, there’s something intrinsically exciting and disruptive going on.
Gone is the glad-wrap sheen applied by labels and cookie-cutter personalities who are simply “blessed to be making music for my fans” with the next-gen of musical artists completely transparent, embracing their diverse personalities as an indivisible element of their art.
At the fore of the new wave of “no fucks given” artistry is Las Vegas’ Shamir Bailey, who ripped open the scene last year with his debut album Ratchet, killer single On The Regular and a crazy fast rise to festivals and shows worldwide.
In the country at the moment for the 2016 Laneway festival and a couple of sideshows, we caught up with the ceaselessly vibrant and giggly Shamir, to chat his first trip to Australia and plans for 2016 which include touring with our very own Troye Sivan.
You’ve had a couple of months off from performing, how have you been spending your time over the holidays?
I don’t really celebrate anything but, I just spent a lot of time with my friends and just hanging out. When you’re on tour you get separated from everyone so it was nice just to hang. I spent Christmas with my producer’s family actually, and then me and my family went to New York for a little friends hang.
You finished last year in Mexico I believe, how was that experience?
Oh it was so cool, a LOT of food. It was my first time in Mexico and we had a few days off in Mexico City which is so beautiful. And even the food alone, I was obsessed.
Speaking of first times, Laneway is here, what’s your expected experience of the festival or Australian festivals in general?
I’m not sure what to expect honestly! I’m just like super excited, the lineup is amazing and has a few friends on it I haven’t seen in awhile.
A lot of artists I talk to about Laneway love the touring festival the bands get to become this little travelling family. Who on the lineup do you think, or hope you’ll bond with most?
I’m super excited for DIIV, it’s actually kinda funny, Colin from DIIV, I kind of met in passing in Mexico and we both talked about how excited we are for Laneway and turns out we live, like, right around the corner from each other in New York.
It’s so funny in that city that someone you know can live right near you and you have no idea, I love it.
Also, I’ve never seen a kangaroo! Is that cliché?
Haha, oh, you’ll see one, trust me. So Ratchet was such an adored debut album, now I hate the term “overnight success” as it kind of implies you haven’t been working hard for long…
Yeeeeeh, but honestly, that was my case I guess? I’m not gonna sit here and act like it wasn’t some freakish thing cause it was.
So how do you look at the speed of which you emerged into our music consciousness, would you change it if you could go back?
I mean I feel that the way that it happened, it was completely out of our hands. Like I didn’t think that anyone would like anything, you know? All I did was go to New York, record a new song and went home, I didn’t even think about it going any further than a new song that I’d show my family and they’d be like “cool”.
And yeh I literally woke up to see everyone talking about me. So it wasn;t something I was pushing for, it just kind of took off like a wildfire. It took me aback a bit, but when things happen so fast you do need to take everything in moderation and that’s what we’ve been doing but it has been really cool in my first year to be touring the world.
Obviously a lot of festivals and performances this year including Coachella, but are you already aware of putting together a 2nd album or prefer to put off the process for now?
I’ve been thinking about it but I’m the kind of person that needs a lot of headspace to get all my gear together. But I always have lots of ideas all the time, a lot of writing and they may not turn out to be songs casue I need that headspace to organize a whole project that is an album.
You’re running around with our own Troye Sivan this year on his Blue Neighbourhood tour, have you two met before? Are you pumped to become buds?
We haven’t met no! We talk online a bit. I’m super excited it’s gonna be such a fun tour. Probably my first time playing club shows in lots of the US, like Florida for example.
You share a similar trajectory and presence as Troye and the likes of Halsey etc, and you all admirably carry very progressive personas in your artistry. What do you think it is about this next gen of musicians that sees them so closely championing social causes and progressive identity etc.? Is it just the new iteration of what was happening in music 10-20 years ago?
I’m not sure. I think people look to me as a person who is like a really outspoken person with all these causes and blah blah blah, obviously I fight for some things, recent things, but I’m not necessarily trying to be super unique or different or make a splash…
Yeah but that’s what’s so great, is that you’re just being your natural self, you’re not running up to the podium and shouting out and that’s what I love so much about you and other new artists is it’s just existing in the music scene, not, say, making brash political statements in a riotous song or video.
Yeh exactly! I’m just completely 100% myself and my goal is to be honest and that’s something that’s new, in music. I mean everyone has these personas and blah blah and that’s whats making these young artists, including myself, stand out. We just don’t care anymore, we’re here to do art. That’s it.
The next gen of not just artists but music fans is so drastically different, what do you think are some of the great things about the next wave of music fans?
Hmm I don’t know. Is there a difference I haven’t really thought about it? I guess with streaming and all that taking off artists really have to put more thought in their physical packaging for their fans. So like, it needs to be a piece of art. Music is something anyone can just GET, but for CDs and vinyls you have to really try hard to get your fans to get out there and touch it, which I actually enjoy.
Last couple of questions, you list quite a lot of roles on your twitter bio and there’s three I want to ask about.
Yeah I used to do stand-up! Not anymore I guess, as music has taken over my life completely. But yeah theres so many other avenues of things I want to get in to you know. Like right now I’m looking at managing, like, I’m managing this band from Philly and juggling it all on top of my music is PLENTY right now.
Yeah I love to cook! My specialty is gluten free cooking cause I’m gluten intolerant and I love to experiment with gluten free cooking. I do cook a lot more than the normal person but it’s hard to find time. Who has the time these days?
Skinny Fat Ass.
Ok that’s like, been my Twitter bio since like junior year of high school, its super old cause that’s back when my metabolism was on my side, now it’s not so much. I used to be able to eat anything and not gain a pound, UGH!
Shamir plays the Oxford Art Factory, Sydney, Thursday February 11th, get your tickets here.