Shash’U’s music career has definitely flourished over the last few years. A 2014 RBMA Bass Camp grad and an exciting Montreal artist, our city's prince of PWRFNK is making waves worldwide. He's worked on some seriously star-studded projects and found a home at Fool’s Gold Records, a consistently relevant, boundary-pushing label.
On September 24, 2016, the Red Bull Music Academy will kick off its 18th instalment at the Phi Centre, uniting emerging and experienced artists for a series of workshops, exhibitions, performances and parties that are sure to impress even the most critical music enthusiasts. Not only is RBMA infamous for injecting new life into music scenes around the world, the festival’s Bass Camp program is known for encouraging experimentation and unfiltered creation among artists, pushing musicians to try new things while solidifying their sound. Shash’U is more than willing to vouch for the program. During our recent interview, totally unprompted, he exclaimed, “Shout-out to the Red Bull Music Academy for shining a light on people who make good music!”
In addition to helping him refine his sound and mature as a musician (“I used to overthink an idea and add too many ingredients to what I was doing. Now, I know that I can pace myself when I’m creating… the more simple, the more dynamic you can be,”) Bass Camp inspired Shash’U to bring his performance game to a whole new level by hosting some of the most memorable shows he’s ever played, or even attended.
We caught up with the ever-evolving musician to talk about how his current approach to creating, performing and living as an artist compares to his experience back in 2013, shortly before stepping foot in Bass Camp for the very first time.
Then: Hip-hop, funk, electro… that was pretty much what the sound was. Banging beats. That’s the term we would use to describe the Shash’U sound.
Now: Today I mostly think of it as power funk, in all its forms. If I were to use adjectives, I’d say fresh, hypnotic, banging. It’s hi-definition. Super hi-def.
Your Performance Style
Then: I’d say it was very personal. I’d play a lot of my unreleased stuff back then. I was a lot more timid, too. I didn’t really know how to translate the emotions I was feeling at the time into a performance.
Now: I’ve learned so much through touring, collaborating and doing gigs around the world. Today, I incorporate more of a live component to power funk. I have way more interaction with the crowd. Now, I’d describe my performing style as hands-on power funk.
A Day In The Life Of Shash’U
Then: Every day music.
Now: Every day music, even more.
Biggest Musical Milestones
Then: DJing for the Juste Debout dance competition in 2013. It’s one of the biggest street dance events in the world. I got to spin for the final event at the Bercy Arena in France, which is where it took place at the time. There were about 20,000 or 30,000 people in the audience. It was a huge accomplishment for me to be there, representing Montreal.
Now: Producing part of Rihanna’s Anti World Tour. I produced the music for the Man Down section of her show. I did a Man Down remix way, way back and it became super popular online, especially with street dancers. Kids from, like, Kuwait would be sending me videos of themselves dancing to the song. So, eventually, through the street dancing community, my remix found its way to Rihanna and she was like, “We need to contact this dude!”
Favourite Song To Use In A Live DJ Set
Then: A lot of Dâm-Funk, Flying Lotus and Sam I Am… very L.A. broken beat type of vibes.
Now: Besides my own stuff, I love playing a song by SpydaT.E.K called Si Me Dices. Whenever I drop that song, it’s an instant knocker. It works perfectly. It’s one of my favourite songs.
Favourite New Artist
Then: Ab-Soul. That Terrorist Threats track was so badass.
Now: Travis Scott. Dude is a genius. I think the way he creates is super cool.
Gear You Can’t Live Without
Then: Roland SP-404 sampler.
Now: My Nord Lead 2x virtual analogue synthesizer. It’s like my lightsaber.
Biggest Musical Inspiration
Then: J Dilla, Just Blaze, the Neptunes.
Now: Jean-Michel Jarre, Prince, Tangerine Dream.
Your Personal Style
Now: Out loud, but proper.
Social Network Of Choice
Advice To Aspiring Musicians
Then: Practise, passion & patience.
Now: Practise, passion & patience.
Where You See Yourself In Three Years
Then: I saw myself releasing more music and doing more collabs.
Now: Today, I’m working on building an empire. That’s what I’m doing now. In three years, it’ll have more floors.
While he couldn’t divulge any details during our interview, fans can expect some big, exciting news from Shash’U in the near future. Until then, here’s a Phi Centre exclusive to tide you over.
Interview by Kelly Hurcomb
Photo credit: Patryk Antoniewicz (cover)