Unveiling the Soulful Magic of Shay Lia

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In the ever-evolving landscape of R&B music, a fresh and soulful voice has been making waves, captivating listeners with her mesmerizing melodies and empowering lyrics. Shanice Dileita Mohamed, known as Shay Lia, a French-Djiboutian born singer-songwriter, is rapidly becoming a household name in the world of contemporary R&B. With her distinctive sound, magnetic stage presence, and a strong message of self-empowerment, Shay Lia is a force to be reckoned with.

We had the pleasure of sitting down with Shay Lia to discuss her musical journey, inspirations, and the impact she hopes to make in the music industry.

Deeds Mag: So, Shay, let's start at the beginning. I’d love to know where you’re from and how did your musical journey begin?

Shay Lia: So I’m originally from East Africa, Djibouti, where I moved when I was 5 and lived there until I was 18 before moving to Canada for my studies. It all started through dancing. I can still remember myself dancing in the living room on some 90’s R&B, Janet Jackson & Destiny’s Child!

And from that, when I discovered YouTube around 12 years old, it became a real obsession for me. As soon as I was back from school I'd go watch interviews or rehearsals of Usher that I couldn't understand back then because no one spoke English around me ! But that’s how I mainly built my knowledge about music back then. Until I got to Montreal in 2012 and started singing in my room even if I was a really shy person back then.

Deeds Mag: And how was your first step into the music/night scene in Canada? 

Shay Lia: The musical scene was pretty small when I got to Montreal, it was mainly a lot of beatmakers, SoundCloud artists and they were all super accessible and welcoming, and that’s kinda how I met Kaytranada. 

Deeds Mag: Oh that’s super interesting, I know your collaboration with Kaytranada on "Leave Me Alone" gained a lot of attention and acclaim. How did that partnership come about, and what was it like working with him?

Shay Lia: I met him at a Jazzy Jeff show in Montreal, a really iconic beatmaker by the way. And that’s where I met Kaytranada through a friend that introduced us. We added each other on social media and one day he saw that I posted a clip of me singing a small verse of Rihanna that I shyly posted which he commented on. He then told me he also produces his own tracks and asked me if I knew how to write songs. Bear in mind I never wrote a song in my life but I still decided to tell him that I could and that’s how it all started. Our first song together was actually ‘3 Months’ that came out on SoundCloud, and then ‘Leave Me Alone’ that went even more viral. We clicked instantly and decided to collaborate on music. Kaytranada's production skills are next level, and we complement each other creatively. It was a fantastic experience.

Deeds Mag: Talking about Kaytranada, I know his boiler room set where people noticed you dancing and made a lot of noise! How did it affect you and your art? 

Shay Lia: The night he invited me to this boiler room I just came out of school, I wasn’t on drugs or any type of alcohol as people may think, I was just enjoying the music around people that were also passionate. Even before coming, Kaytra told me ‘you better dance’, and I did, and never thought this could cause this much impact. 

I was in a safe place for me and wasn’t thinking about the camera or anything else.

Also, when the video came out, the music and the tape weren’t synced and it really annoyed me. I couldn’t watch this video for a long time because I hated looking at me dancing but now it just makes me laugh and I don't have any problem with it anymore. People thought I was on drugs but in reality, it was just pure enjoyment! 

Deeds Mag: Your music often blends elements of R&B, soul, and electronic sounds. What artists or genres have influenced your unique style?

Shay Lia: I draw inspiration from a wide range of artists. Artists like Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, and Sade have had a significant impact on my musical sensibilities. People tend to forget beatmakers as artists because they inspire me a lot. The beat is something really important to me because as I said, dancing was my first love so I need to feel the music before listening to words. Their ability to infuse soulful melodies with powerful lyrics has always resonated with me. I also love exploring electronic music, so artists like Kaytranada have been influential in shaping my sound.

Deeds Mag: I know your EP "Dangerous" received critical acclaim. Can you tell us about the inspiration behind the project and the transition to ‘Solaris’?

Shay Lia: "Dangerous" was a deeply personal project for me. It represents a period of growth and self-discovery. You can still hear a bit of Kaytranada inspo, with R&B and Soul.The EP explores themes of love, vulnerability, and empowerment. Then I worked on ‘Solaris’ which has more of an Afrobeat vibe. That’s when I started reaching out to artists like Adekunle Gold and Kojey Radical, artists that could match my vibe. And I’m now working on something different, I want to explore more while still keeping my R&B identity 

Deeds Mag: So as we said, you already worked with many artists that inspire you a lot but do you have any artists in mind you’d love to collaborate with?

Shay Lia: That’s interesting because there’s a lot of artists I love but that I don't see myself working with, only because we don’t always have the same musical vibe. But I still have Anderson Paak in mind because he’s really a genius in his genre and I feel like it’ll make a great project !

Deeds Mag: You seem like a very versatile artist, do you have any favorite genre or a favorite part of your work?

Shay Lia: Honestly I love everything I do. I can admit that songwriting and dancing still comes first in what I love the most even if I also love singing. I love touching different genres like Soul, R&B, Afrobeat, Electro etc. It’s true that singing came later but I really started to enjoy it when I realized I had a voice. Meaning i have a musical proposition and that’s a thing that no one can take from you.

I also love studio sessions, it’s a really comforting phase of creating. 

Deeds Mag: Also, I know you also speak and sing in French, per exemple in your single ‘TAKUTÁ’, so has English always been the language you wanted to build your career with? 

Shay Lia: Honestly English came really naturally, it came with a feeling and my first ever mumblings were in broken English. I feel like since I was so obsessed with YouTube and music in English back then, I just soaked up the language and that’s the one that felt right to me. But I still love singing in French and adding it to my sounds.

Deeds Mag: What can we expect next from Shay Lia? Any upcoming projects or exciting developments on the horizon?

Shay Lia: I'm constantly creating and experimenting with new sounds. I have some exciting projects in the works, including new music and collaborations that I can't wait to share with my fans. I just dropped 3 singles after a 2-year break, TAKUTÁ, SOLO & UPSIDE DOWN with 3 different sonorities that tease the dynamic of my upcoming project titled ‘FACETE’, coming out on the 20th of October. It’s a 10 track album with many different sounds and vibe. I worked on it while in LA in 2021 and I can't wait for it to be released. I want to keep pushing the boundaries of my artistry and exploring new sonic landscapes. There's a lot more to come, so stay tuned!

Deeds Mag: Finally, Shay, what advice would you give to aspiring artists looking to make their mark in the music industry?

Shay Lia: My advice would be to stay true to yourself and your vision. Don't be afraid to be different and take risks. Do it with passion. If there’s no passion in what you create people will feel it and you won’t be as fulfilled as you think.

As I wrapped up my conversation with Shay Lia, it became clear that her passion for music and dedication to authenticity are the driving forces behind her success. With a unique blend of Soul, R&B, and Electronic influences, she continues to captivate audiences worldwide. As we eagerly await her upcoming projects, one thing is certain: Shay Lia is an artist who is here to stay, and her musical journey is one that will continue to inspire and resonate with fans for years to come.

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