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Today in our profiles of the Sounds of Southampton Vol 2 artists, we meet Shani.

SoCo: So first of all, can you just start by telling me your name, please? 

Shani: My name is Shani. 

SoCo: Great, thanks. First of all, can you tell me if being involved in the Sounds of Southampton project has helped improve any skills for you?

Shani: I would say it’s put less pressure on the whole creative process. Being in the studio, and not really worrying, oh, my goodness, I need to cram all of this in this space of time, because bills are going to rack up fast, it’s been helpful for that side of things, and then everything else has fallen into place a lot easier. And I am a very expressive person visually, so with my music video, I directed it – I have a background in musical theatre – and I loved doing that. I was really excited to actually use all the resources that I could and not really need to worry about, okay, if I do this, like, how much is that going to be? It’s just sort of fully freed me up to be more creative.

SoCo: Okay, great. And has it helped you do think express yourself through music?

Shani: Yeah, I would say so. For the past year, I have been doing music independently. And of course, lockdown just made things impossible. I didn’t know about this last year, but I knew about it this year so I just made sure I took advantage of everything I got thrown at me. Anything that Tyrone said, ‘yeah, we’ve got this come along’, I’d free up my schedule. backflip, be as flexible as the gymnasts during this time, just to make sure that I use everything available. And I don’t take this moment for granted. I can look back and be proud of it.

SoCo: That’s real. That’s great. And do you think it’s helped your progression, your career in music? 

Shani: Yeah, I’d say definitely. Tyrone’s been doing this a lot longer than I have and he has his way of thinking and planning things out. He gave us this itinerary of when to post things, when to do things, so I think I’ll keep that for future independent releases, to get the ball rolling a bit more rather than thinking okay, I released my first song, and then a year passes nothing, just be consistent. I mean, he’s been very consistent and look where it’s gotten him! So I just need to use everything that’s available to me, go on social media more, that sort of thing. And of course, this project has taught me to just plan things. I’m a very like, planning person. I like to put structure on things and the way he did everything’s just great.

SoCo: Great. So the support’s not even been just about the music, it’s been about everything around the music too?

Shani: Yeah, it’s just been very professional, from the build up to the drop of the album, and meeting everyone, and then my first time shooting with a drone -, so it just been a really fun experience. I think that maybe something like this would be really intense because of course everybody’s wondering how well is ti going to do, and we need to get people together to do the same thing when we shot at the Saints stadium, there could have been challenges timewise people there but it’s  just been a really enjoyable experience.

SoCo:  Great! So as far as like, like well being, do you think it’s helped you to be more positive, has it helped you relax a bit more in yourself?

Shani: I would say definitely a lot. Because everyone experienced lockdown, but some people were great, they just went and bought holidays. I’m not that type of person, I didn’t have the funds to do that. So I was at home like most people, and when this came up, Tyrone actually sent it to me because I got to know him sort of on and off at his like studio, I’d been recording there for some other projects that I wanted to do. And from the moment he told me about I was just so excited, thinking I have got to get on that project. I know a lot of people signed up so for me it’s just been a lot of weight off my shoulders. Even if you’re managed, there’s so much pressure as well to get the [production] money back. And it’s just taken like a lot of pressure off. And it’s been a fun experience. It’s taken all the stresses that come from creating music and just made it easier to say, okay, let me have fun with this, let me write something, the way I’m feeling instead of thinking, Okay, how much is this going to cost me? I don’t need to think about that.

SoCo: That’s really good. As far as kind of your general outlook then, has it helped you to have a more positive outlook, to feel more optimistic about your future?

Shani: Yeah, even just this experience performing today, it’s made me really excited to see what other shows and performance opportunities that are, get back into the studio as much as possible, because I definitely want to be on Volume 3! And that’s going happen. I mean, this thing is so successful, more and more people turning their heads, you know, giving us the attention, because we’re all putting in the work for it. So I definitely want to do this again.

SoCo: That’s great. And do think it’s made you feel a sense of like empowerment, do you feel like you’re more focused or able to set your next goals?

Shani: Yeah. It’s been great that there was money put into this project, when you look at everybody on this, there’s a real eclectic mix of people, different origins, and me, I was born and raised here my entire life. And I’m really seeing how the city is trying to my grow individuals, and I think it’s definitely moving in the right direction.

SoCo: Right. That’s great. Have you got any other thoughts or feedback about the project? 

Shani: Maybe, yes.. The project is great but maybe there are ways to make it better. Something about moulding people? We’re all creatives here, a lot of us have these goals, but at the moment that looks further away for some people than it would others. So maybe hone in on that an alumna, and say, ok, we’ve got these talented people, and how can we really mould them? They know their potential, but for a lot of people, it’s so far to obtain, so how can we like help them get there? Projects like this, of course to do that, but of course, after the fact, maybe just giving some extra push to help them get to where they could be,

SoCo: And what would you want to see next for you faster

Shani: For me personally, I would love to be able to release more, I’d love to be able to connect more with other people. I’m trying to learn how to mix and master, I’ve got equipment at home for everything. But it would be nice to just like have those connections more, so instead of having to travel to Leicester like I did last year, to work with certain people, it’d be nice to maybe have like a way of networking with people, so instead of looking online at who follows who, it’d be nice to have maybe a platform where you can actually connect with like minded creatives. If you want a videographer, you can find a videographer. If you want a our choreographer, you can find one there. If you’re doing a music video, and all you can find is one type of person, here’s variety, here’s a more diverse range of people. I feel like that would be a really good way to move, connectivity wise, really getting everyone in the city to work with each other.

SoCo: Yeah, so bringing people together to basically support the industry in the city so you don’t have to be spending a lot of time trying to find them or going elsewhere, because there’s definitely the talent here in Southampton.

Shani: There definitely is. I meet people  out that I find out, okay, you put your own clothing company on this great. I like fitness, do you want to shoot for me? That sort of thing. Where if you actually have a platform, it’d be less of a missed opportunity if you didn’t go out that night or you weren’t in the right place at the right time to make that connection. Maybe there’s a platform where it’s right there for you and all you need to do is search and find those people and you can work with them. We don’t really need to go London anymore to make those connections. Southampton, that can be the place.

SoCo:That’s great. Well, we’ll see what we can do!

Listen to Shani’s track on Spotify here, and connect with her on Instagram here

Watch the launch video here and listen to the full album here

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