We recently had the chance to chat with breakout music star Shab about her latest release Criss Cross. As an Iranian refugee, Shab’s perseverance and hard work have been her most notable attribute throughout her journey.
We spoke about her inspiration to pursue music as a career, her musical influences, what her listeners can expect from her new music, and why it’s essential for her to be a role model and inspiration for her fans.
Read on for our exclusive interview with Shab below:
What initially inspired you to pursue music as a career?
To be fair and real, I probably didn’t consciously pursue music as a career so much as stumble into it. While I have always had a love of music, I had really not planned on singing and composing professionally until a few years ago. Some tell me that I should have started sooner: but as I look back now, I feel that God did not send this engagement my way until he felt that I was ready.
Who are some of your musical influences when it comes time to create music?
Because of the time spent in various cultures, I have a wider array of influences than I otherwise should. Americans of my generation have little connection with acts such as Boney M or Kraftwerk or Amir Diab, but they have all served as musical influences. But I also have, of course, the same modern influences as my peers, with queens such as Madonna, Diana Ross, Annie Lennox, Beyoncé, and Diana Krall all making their marks.
Is there anyone that you would love to work with someday?
At the top of my list would be Post Malone, a fellow Texan that I think everyone can agree is just crazy talented. Did you hear the hour-long online concert that he did during the pandemic of Nirvana covers?
And I probably would cancel any other plans that I had if the opportunity to work with Lady Gaga or Miley Cyrus surfaced. I mean, who wouldn’t?
I’d also be thrilled to work with J. Baldwin, Maluma or some of your older R&B icons on mutually-appropriate projects if I had the chance. There are so many incredible artists working today.
What does your own playlist look like right now?
It’s a pretty eclectic mix as my guy is a walking encyclopedia for music: and our sound system in the house could be playing anything ranging from Usher to Gang Of Four to The Brothers Johnson to Frank Sinatra to the Isley Brothers.
Chet Baker would be heavily in that mix, and you’d also hear more obscure artists like Daniel Johnson, Wilco, or Shuggy Otis. Other than Dua Lipa or Miley Cyrus, we really don’t listen to much Top 40 radio.
But probably at the top of my playlist right now are the brilliant boys in Rufus du Sol, whose music literally transports me to another place and time.
How would you describe your sound to someone thinking of listening for the first time?
I am a pop singer who grew up in a variety of cultures — so don’t be surprised if you found my music as something of World Pop.
Congratulations on your new single! What can listeners expect from your latest release with Criss Cross?
CRISS CROSS is about that stage in a new love affair when uncertainties devolve from the desire to take the relationship to a more serious level. It’s a place that almost all of us have been in our own respective romances and I think that most people can relate to the hopeful insecurity projected by the song’s protagonist
How would you say it compares or differs from your previous work?
This particular single has a bouncier and more electronic feel than most of the work on my first album. I hope that people will agree with me that it reflects a more mature and confident artist than when I was first getting into the business of singing in English.
And it likely heralds the change of tone that you will find throughout my upcoming second album, which will release later this year.
Can you talk a little about why it’s important for you to share your music and be a role model for your listeners?
I think that is frankly a fantastic question.
Look: I came to this country at fourteen years old as a refugee, not knowing a single word of English and carrying a sole suitcase. I don’t want to slight the discrimination that anyone else has suffered in their American experience. Still, I can pretty much tell you that there was nothing worse during the early 1980s than to be an immigrant to America from revolutionary Iran.
But as I adapted to this country, its values, and its culture, I came to intensely love my adopted homeland and its people: and I can sincerely say that the trials that I experienced in my youth have only made me stronger.
I know what it is like to be among “the huddled masses yearning to be free,” as we were of the millions over the past two centuries that have stood as the wretched refuse that landed on American shores. And I can tell you from my own practice — and despite whatever anyone else says — that The American Dream is alive and well.
I am living proof of that reality. So if I can make my dreams come true under these circumstances, then the ambitious and hardworking members of my audience can aspire to their own portions of The American Dream.
Thank you so much to Shab for taking the time to speak with us!
Shab will also be performing at Tiger Heat at the Vermont Hollywood this Thursday, July 21st!
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