Jason From SpotOnLi Interviews Shanell

September 14, 2011 by Danny M


Jason From SpotOnLi Interviews Shanell

Jason Pollak from SpotOnLi recently interviewed Young Money’s princess, Shanell. They talk about SnL‘s youth, singing, dancing, Lil Wayne, directing the “Runnin’” music video off Wayne’s Rebirth album, Young Money Entertainment, her upcoming album, and more! You can read the full interview below:

Jason: When and where were you born?
Shanell: I was born in Cali, I’m a Cali girl (laughs). But I moved to Massachusetts when I was young to be closer to my grandparents. After that I moved down to Atlanta, when my parents got divorced.

Jason: Is that when you began to sing? When you moved to Atlanta?
Shanell: Oh, no. I had been singing way before that. Singing kind of runs in my family. My dad was a singer growing up, he was in a couple local bands. My sister is also a singer. We basically just followed in the path of our father. He was always encouraging us to sing and perform. My brother is actually in entertainment too. I don’t know, my father just always had a passion for performing and he passed it down to us.

Jason: How do you incorporate so many types of sounds in your music, you are very diverse?
Shanell: Well living in Cali and then moving to the South, definitely broadened my horizons. Those two places each have their own unique sound. I also listened to everything from Madonna to Lauryn Hill. Once I began writing, all of those sounds began to fuse together. I don’t really put my music in a particular genre because I like to experiment with so many different sounds. People come up to me and tell me I am creating a certain type of music, but I never even realized I was doing that. I was just doing what sounded good to me.

Jason: Before you were a singer, you were mainly a dancer. Do you think your dance background helped you become a better musician?
Shanell: Yea, it definitely did. When I write or perform, it’s always to a certain rhythm or beat. Dance is very similar to music because it is all about the rhythm. Dance is 5,6,7,8, where music is 1,2,3,4. A lot of people listen to the piano when they write or perform, but I need to hear the drums. The drum kick really helps dictate the beat to me, which in turn, allows me to write better music. Sometimes I hear things differently, but that’s a good thing. That means my music is coming from a different place and at a different rhythm.

Jason: Which part of performing do you enjoy the most- singing, dancing or both?
Shanell: Well, in order to be successful in the music industry, you kind of need to be good at both. When I was growing up, I attended a performing arts school in Atlanta. While I attended school, I practiced many different aspects of theatre and art. That practice definitely helped me prepare for my career. When you’re on a job, you can’t get hired if you can only do one thing. You need to have the whole package. Practicing so many different elements in theatre, in turn, made me versatile and made the job search a little easier. I think you really need to be able to do both to have a chance at being very successful in music.

Jason: Did you find it hard to transition from a dancer to a singer?
Shanell: Yea, it was a little difficult. The main problem was having all of the attention focused on you while on stage. You all of a sudden become the main focus of everyone at the concert. When I was performing with Ne-Yo, you know, he was the main focus. I was just supposed to be in the back as a dancer while we gave him the space he needed on stage. In 2008, when I started working with Wayne, he had to tell me to get out on the stage. He would be like, “Get up here!” and motion for me to move up. It took a little while for me to adjust to that. It was still all a little weird. Now I am so used to it, Wayne is like, “Hey! Hey! This is my song. Move back!” (laughs), but it’s all good.

Jason: What is your stage chemistry like with Wayne? You guys seem to have a lot of fun up there and perform with such ease.
Shanell: It’s just really cool and natural. We are a bit different though, which I think helps our musical relationship. Since I come from a theatre background, I need to rehearse a lot in order to feel comfortable. It’s just the world I come from. I need to come in with a full band, the dancers and the stage personnel to get ready. However Wayne doesn’t really like to rehearse. He just comes in, runs the show once, then is immediately back in the studio. He likes to perform naturally, whereas, I need to know what is coming next and where I have to be. It’s just two different perspectives. It’s good though and it works. It actually makes sense in a strange way.

Jason: Since we are on the topic of Wayne, what was it like meeting him when you first signed to Young Money. We all have heard stories about Drake meeting Wayne while he (Wayne) was getting a tattoo. Was it a crazy day like that for you as well?
Shanell: Actually, no not at all (laughs). It was pretty much a normal day. We were both on tour with Ne-Yo at that time. He was an opening act at the time and I was his (Ne-Yo’s) backup dancer. I was basically just trying to get my music out there any way I could. I started talking to Wayne and told him about everything I was doing. He was very interested in it, so I asked him if he would like to hear some of my work. So I took him upstairs to my hotel room where I had my Pro-Tools and other equipment set up. He really liked what he heard and asked me what I was doing with it. I told him I was selling it, but right there, on the spot, he was like, “You need to stop selling this. This is really good. You need to keep this for yourself.” I still thought I wanted to be a dancer, so I was very surprised. He then asked me if I wanted to sign to Young Money and I of course said yes.

Jason: What has it been like working with Wayne?
Shanell: It has been amazing. I started working with him on The Carter III, where I introduced him to producers Bangledesh (A Milli, 6’7’’) and Maestro (3 Peat). We basically just started to work together a lot. From there we really dove into that “pop-punk” world and began creating the album “Rebirth”. I wrote four songs for that album, obviously not Wayne’s parts. I wrote the single “Prom Queen”, “American Star”, “Runnin” and “I’m So Over You”. The song “Runnin” actually has a pretty funny story. I was really angry one night on tour and needed something to write to. The studio tour bus was luckily open, so I ventured inside. I began writing to this beat and the song was supposed to be for me. While I’m recording though, Wayne walked in and was like “What’s that? Play that again, lemme put somethin on it.” I of course was like “Okay.” After we recorded that, it kind of became his song (laughs) and wound up on “Rebirth”.

Jason: That is pretty funny. I also heard you co-directed the music video for “Runnin”. What was that experience like?
Shanell: I have directed some small videos before, but this was my first big video. It was actually really funny because there were all these guys on set that have been doing this for years. All of a sudden, here comes this girl telling them what to do. “Move the lights, get the camera over here.” (laughing) It was definitely a culture shock for them, listening to a woman on set. But Wayne believed in me. He vouched for me. I’m very thankful for that. I had a lot of fun directing that video. It’s something I want to be more involved with in the future. I think every artist should direct or at least have some say in the video treatment for their song. You write it, perform it and sing it. You should be able to collaborate on how it looks with a director, so your vision and ideas find their way into the video.

Jason: What is it like working with the other members of Young Money? You guys seem like a family over there.
Shanell: It’s sad and good. I’ll explain. We were cookin’ it up in Miami for the first couple of years. We had the Young Money mixtape and a whole bunch of other collaborations. We were together all the time. Now everyone is kind of doing their own thing. We’ve all grown. Nicki (Minaj) is on tour with Britney Spears​, Drake is all over the place doing his album. It’s just kind of different now. Even on the tours before, everyone was there, always hanging out. Now, like I said, people have kind of gone their own route. When we were together it was crazy. Just thinking about it, it feels like yesterday. Some labels just throw people together and say “Here, be friends.” With us, it was just really natural. We ate, slept and grew together. We are all very close, we truly are a family.

Jason: Were you partying it up with the Young Money fam last night? You sound kind of exhausted.
Shanell: (laughs) Unfortunately not. Wayne was busy skatin’ and Baby was in the studio. I went by myself to see Jeezy’s 6th anniversary concert. It’s really cool to see an Atlanta based artist throwing his anniversary concert in New York. It really shows how far we have come overtime. Before, there was a bit of a North/South rivalry, everybody thought they were better than everyone else. Now we have Kanye West​ and Jay-Z performing with Jeezy, so it was really cool to see everyone together.

Jason: That’s cool. I guess we only have time for one more question, so we might as well make it about you! What can we expect to hear on your new album? What kind of material?
Shanell: Basically, really good, timeless material. It sounds lame, but it really isn’t (laughs). It won’t be trendy music about the latest technology. Believe me, there won’t be any lines in there about an iPhone 4 or anything like that. It’s more or less a lot of mixed genres put together. There is pop, R&B, rock and roll. I want to give everyone a new sound, something different. I’m excited to see what comes next!

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7 Responses to “Jason From SpotOnLi Interviews Shanell”

  1. lilweezyfan1 Says:

    first comment 🙂 c4 bitches 🙂


  2. Deonte Hill Says:

    Shanell is my favorite girl singer 🙂 keep up the great work.!


  3. Jason Says:

    Thanx guys, check out my blog runwithitsite.tumblr.com and SpotOnLi.com


  4. jason Says:

    And thanx Danny!



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