There’s Something About Seyi Shay: An Interview With The Artist
Get to know the woman behind the music.
Born Deborah Oluwaseyi Joshua but Seyi Shay, to you and I… Seyi is the British-born Nigerian singer-songwriter killing it right now. Back in 2005 she began her professional voyage into the music industry; producing three tracks for the video game ‘Crime Life: Gang Wars.’ Fast forward three years and she was the lead singer in the girl group ‘From Above,’ managed by Matthew Knowles. You may remember the catchy girl-power anthem ‘Not The Same Girl.’ #throwback But, Seyi soon realized that she had her own message to put out and broke out as a solo artist in 2015 when she released her debut album with Island Records. Now Seyi has over 1 million followers on IG, a residency at legendary Biosdale of Canary Wharf, London and a musical collab with Teyana Taylor. How does she have the time? We managed to grab her for a quick chat during a typically busy week to find out.
We have to start with your collaboration with Teyana Taylor for the ‘Gimme Love’ remix. We’re obsessed! Tell us a little bit about how this partnership came about and how you found your experience working with her.
SS: This was set up by JQ of FTR, my international manager. I saw Teyana perform at a writer’s award ceremony in Atlanta last year and I was blown away. So, when JQ said there would be an opportunity to feature her on the track, I said: “yes!” ‘Gimme Love’ was the perfect record for such an international collaboration.
You have been managed by some huge names in the music industry. How did you get your foot in the door?
SS: Matthew Knowles was my first manager and he’s still a mentor of mine. He managed the girl band I was part of at the time called ‘From Above.’ That was an audition process and I eventually joined as the lead singer.
I started singing in my school choir, then my church choir, then auditioned to be part of girl groups and then eventually, years later after many failures and disbanding, I went solo as you see me today.
You have a massive presence on social media, particularly on Instagram; with more than 1 million followers. How is your relationship with social media and how do you think social media affects your relationship with your audience?
SS: I feel very blessed to have so many followers on IG. They are not only my fans but friends. I listen to their opinions and I share mine. IG really helps me to know what people want to see and hear. It’s also a great way to share new projects and keep my fans updated on what I’m doing.
Let’s talk about fashion. Does your heritage influence your style? Do you have a favorite designer?
SS: I don’t have a favorite designer, but I love all the ones I wear regularly. I like David TIale from South Africa, Orange Culture from Nigeria, DNA from Nigeria, Maxivive from Nigeria, Tokyo James from Nigeria, Clan, Tiffany Amber and House of CB to name a few.
How is your relationship with makeup? Is it something that you play with and are into?
SS: I’m really into make-up as you can imagine. I have to wear it all the time because of my job. I try to wear as little as I can though because I’m an African woman and we like to stay as natural as possible. So my daily make-up routine would be a bit of concealer, lip tint, mascara and highlights on my cheekbones.
Do you have an icon or idol that you look up to?
SS: It used to be Michael Jackson. Now I think it would be Sade.
We’re interested in your creative process for making music. Can you walk us through it?
SS: I work with different writers and producers. We normally meet up somewhere secluded and just vibe to tracks in the studio. I normally write and sing about love and how vulnerable I can be to it.
How is the experience of being in a band different from being a solo artist? Do you miss that chapter of your life?
SS: Although I miss the girls, I think my path is to be a solo artist. I prefer it because of the creative freedom I have and I get to move at my own pace.
Can you give us a glimpse of what a typical day in the life of Seyi might look like?
SS: I wake up, meditate, gym, shower and then studio/ interview/ event/ appearance/ travel/ show time!
What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future? Any exciting projects in the pipeline?
SS: I have new management out here in Africa called Aristokrat 360 who have partnered with my international management. After the release of ‘Gimme Love’ featuring Teyana Taylor, the first major project we will do together is complete my forthcoming EP which will be released in early 2020 featuring some more exciting artists.
Keep up to date with Seyi’s latest projects on her Instagram @iamseyishay .