SHAMEEM City Lights


“I think there’s no such thing as perfect for artists; we always look for the next perfect. I think my sound has matured a lot and I think I’ve gotten to a point where a lot of people can listen to it and enjoy it.”

After making a splash in 2011 with her debut self-titled EP, West Australian artist, Shameem, is back with The Second City, another round of R&B tracks set to send a message. AARON BRYANS reports ahead of her performance this Saturday, January 17, at the Subiaco Arts Centre.

Combining ’90s R&B with elements of jazz and soul, local artist and composer Shameem has taken a positive approach to her musical journey, absorbing any experience along the way to evolve her music into a style that she is not only proud of but can be recognised and appreciated for.

However when it comes to song writing, Shameem values lyrical expression equal to its musical accompaniments.

I think my music has always been about the message; I think, maybe, I’m just getting better at telling it,” Shameem explains. “One thing that I’ve been trying to do at my shows is I love to tell stories about the songs and explain to everyone what the songs are; and that’s great as long as people come to my shows and hear the stories because my lyrics used to be quite cryptic. Then I realised some people aren’t going to come my shows so I need to make it honest enough that they won’t need to come to my shows.

I think I’ve become a much more deliberate songwriter. I used to write and just blurt a whole bunch of stuff out but now I’m a lot more measured and I take my time and I think about how I’m going to structure a song and I think that’s how the song writing has developed. When we went into the studio we also took more time trying things out and a big change that I made was a that I programmed the drums to give it more of an R&B feel.”

Shameem’s musical life began at the age of seven when she started taking piano lessons. Then at nine years-old she took up the cello and eventually the guitar in high school when she realised “pianos are heavy and you can’t take them places.” The process has opened up some incredible journeys since the release of her debut album in 2011, including support slots with great artists such as George Benson, Ronan Keating and Belinda Carlisle.

I think it’s interesting to see how they each handle the touring life,” Shameem reveals. “There’s no right or wrong about it, different personalities handle it differently. George Benson is like 70-somehting and after the show he was chatting with people and ready to party. Ronan Keating was a bit more relaxed but still chatting with people and hanging out and Belinda Carlisle arrived in the taxi five minutes before she got on stage and then walked off stage and straight into the taxi to go straight back to the hotel.”

The release of The Second City begins what looks to be an incredible 2015, topping off the musical evolution of one of Western Australia’s rising R&B artists.

I think there’s no such thing as perfect for artists; we always look for the next perfect. I think my sound has matured a lot and I think I’ve gotten to a point where a lot of people can listen to it and enjoy it. I think before maybe it was a bit obscure or too jazzy and now it hasn’t lost that element of jazz but it’s a little more pop-friendly and I’m glad I can do that without straying too far from my roots.”

I compose every instrument, I write sheet music for my band we rehearse it and they may tweak a couple of things I’ve written because they know their instrument best and then we gig it a little bit before we record it.”

The EP itself is a fun and enjoyable blend of meaningful tracks with highs, lows and twists. Of the many themes within The Second City, unity and equality are a stand out, two hot topics in the current Australian environment.

Obviously you see on the news we’ve got a lot of people in our country who feel a lot of animosity towards people of other races. This whole stop the boats mentality is an example of that. At the same time there are a lot of things we don’t hear about on the news and that is people who genuinely want to get along with others and learn with others. There a lot of Australians who feel enriched by the fact that we have such cultural diversity now and I think that’s growing.”