Sisterhood, Music, Respect
SHiiKANE, the name of Africa’s first International female collective, consists of twins HRH Shay and Princess Annamay, along with baby sister Baby-Kay. With origins stemming from Asaba Delta State, but raised in London UK, the ladies now call Nigeria home.
In 2009, SHiiKANE started their professional career by releasing their debut mix-tape, SHiiKANE Touched This, followed by their premiere single, “Bamboo Dey Chop,” produced by Atlanta, Georgia’s own, Z1ro. SHiiKane has continued to release music over the course of the past 7+ years, and have since become the #1 female group in Africa.
We talked with the ladies about their success and their musical journey and more in our interview…
Parlé Mag: How did the three of you initially come together to form the group?
Shay: Well we’re sisters, so it was kinda inevitable.
Annamay: Me and Shay always sang together growing up; in church and school. When we finished Uni, our mom suggested Kay join us… she didn’t want to at first because she studied theatre arts.
Kay: Well, they had to beg me to join the group, and I agreed to in the end. I’m glad I did.
Parlé Mag: Now you all are natives of where exactly? And growing up there, who all did you consider to be your strongest influences?|
Annamay: We’re born and raised in London UK… but our parents are Nigerian immigrants that moved to London in the late ’70’s. We consider ourselves Nigerians living in UK.
Kay: Growing up, we listened to all kinds of music… Motown to Nigerian traditional music. The Jacksons, George Benson and Stevie Wonder were favorites, as well as British pop; like The Beatles, David Bowie and Phil Collins.
Shay: Then when our senior brother came back to England from boarding school in Nigeria, he introduced us to New Jack Swing and Teddy Riley. That’s when it all changed. We never heard anything like it before. It evoked something spiritual that can’t be described. All the music described influenced us.
Parlé Mag: That being said, how then would you all describe and/or define the style of music that SHiiKANE creates and performs?
Annamay: I think our genre is pop music, but to be specific we call it Nigerian Pop Music or Afro Pop. It’s now called ‘Afrobeats.’ We don’t really like that term because it’s not a true description. Afrobeats is what Fela Kuti sings, and that’s not what we do… but this is how all African pop music is categorized now. I guess it’s better than calling it ‘world music.’
Parlé Mag: In having said that, individually what do each of you bring to the proverbial creative table, both personally and professionally speaking, when it comes to SHiiKANE?
Shay: I think I’m the business face of the group. I’m the one that will go to the difficult meetings, or ask the difficult questions. I’m not afraid to be direct… it comes a little more naturally to me. Especially on stage.
Annamay: I’m very creative, but a little indecisive. I think when it comes to the group, I’m very passionate. I take this sh*t personally! I mean we all do, but I take it real personal. I’m very involved in the imagery and concepts of what we put out. I’m a little sexier with my image than my sisters, too.
Kay: I’ve always been known as the joker. We all have a hard time being serious for too long, but for some reason everyone thinks I’m kidding even when I’m not. I’m very laid back though. I’m trying to change that. My sisters are always getting on me about that. And I tend to be the referee when all hell breaks loose between the twins! Laughs
Parlé Mag: Where does your moniker originally derive from?
Kay: SHiiKANE is simply and amalgamation of our English names. When we told our mom, she said it’s similar to “Shekinah glory” in the bible so she approved.
Parlé Mag: What do you all feel will be the ultimate key to your success?
Annamay: I think our unity, prayer and consistency is what we need to succeed. The international community is starting to recognize African music now with Sony signing deals with African artists, so things are only gonna get better for us as right now we’re the first of its kind.
Parlé Mag: What do you all feel you offer the music industry that we don’t already have in other performers?
Shay: Well, we’re the first female group in African music. We have an international appeal in our music partly because of the European influence.
Annamay: We have our own label named after our late mother, M.A. Records. We produce all our own content, executive produce our music videos and co-produce our music. We really are female bosses!
Kay: We show a different face of Africa. A positive strong face, which is often replaced with negative imagery.
Parlé Mag: Have you all encountered any problems in getting to this point in your career?
Kay: Yes, sure. The African music industry is very male dominated; it’s a direct reflection of society. So being taken seriously has been a challenge. It’s partly the reason we started our own label; to show it can be done.
Parlé Mag: What do you all want people to get from your music?
Shay: We want people to be able to relate in some way. Most of the songs we put out are written from experience, and the idea is to create a mood or feeling. Our single, “Loke”, was written with the current political and financial climate in Nigeria in mind. It’s a song essentially saying things will get better; just hang on. This was also reflected in the video treatment, which depicted Nigerian pride strength.
Watch The Visual For SHiiKANE “Loke” Below:
Parlé Mag: On a more serious note, are you all happy with the current state of music? And, even more specifically, where exactly do you all “fit in” when it comes to today’s current/trending sound-scape?
Annamay: I’m not sure we “fit in”. I don’t think we want to fit in. The fact we’re the first to do this on a major scale from Africa makes us stand out, and that’s what we want. We don’t want to be your (basic) standard “girl group.”
Kay: With Drake collaborating with Wizkid, and the song getting to number one worldwide, shows the world might be trying to “fit in” with African music, and we’re here for it!
Parlé Mag: Being that you all are an international act, do you find it a lot more difficult trying to crossover here into the states?
Shay: It’s been a bit of a challenge, but interviews like this are the first step. All eyes are on African music now, so we are excited about the possible opportunities coming up.
Kay: We are making an active effort to see how this can happen. We were nominated for (a) NEA Award in 2016 held in New York in September, and we attended and performed. Hopefully there’ll be more opportunities like that coming up.
Parlé Mag: Do you all have any other outside/additional aspirations, maybe even completely away from entertainment?
Annamay: We’ve always wanted to expand in real-estate. We have 4 brothers, and when our mom died that was something we said we all wanted to do together.
Parlé Mag: What has been your greatest achievement so far?
Shay: We don’t have one. I’d say our 13 nominations and 4 wins last year was amazing. It finally showed us we’re on the right path. But, we’re just getting started.
Parlé Mag: If you all could collaborate with any one artist, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Annamay: I’d say Michael Jackson, Don Jazzy, Jagged Edge.
Shay: Flavour N’abania, Kiss Daniel, Janet Jackson, Teddy Riley.
Kay: Phoenix, Phyno, Brymo.
Parlé Mag: If you all could play any venue in the world, which one would you choose and why?
Annamay: Lagos National Stadium in Nigeria.
Shay: O2 or Wembley Stadium in London.
Kay: Madison Square.
Parlé Mag: One track of yours that you think defines you all and why?
Shay: I don’t think I can give one track…but if I have to choose, I’d say “Omo Shelen Geh”, produced by TeeYMix, only because it’s a perfect blend of Afro Pop and R’n’B.
Kay: I’d say “Mama’s Song,” which is a track we haven’t released yet; it’s about our late mom.
Annamay: I can’t choose one track; they all define SHiiKANE.
Watch The Music Video For Shiikane “Omo Shelen Geh” Below:
Parlé Mag: What’s next for SHiiKANE?
Annamay: We’re releasing the album this summer, and hopefully releasing our reality show, which gives a good insight into the journey so far.
Parlé Mag: Is there anything I left out, or just plain forgot to mention?
Shay: We have our own clothing line called SHiiBrit. We style our shoots ourselves and design all the clothes. SHiiBrit will be having a fashion show launch this year.
Kay: We also started producing videos under our production company for other artists.
Parlé Mag: Any “closing” thought(s) for our readers?
Annamay: We want to thank all our fans and supporters for riding with us this far. We will only get bigger and better.
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