Allure Cover: Seyi Shay – Is A Big Girl!
By Latasha Ngwube
The last time I interviewed Seyi Shay was in 2013. This is now the year 2020 and understandably, she’s grown. I chuckle as she picks my call on its second ring, gushing excitedly about everything all at once in her smooth, velvety voice.
When I ask her if she’ll be our Cover girl for this special issue she replies in the affirmative before I’m even done and immediately, her machinery takes over. It’s all Google calendar syncing and alarms being set and emails being exchanged, people being copied in… the once bright-eyed, eager young starlet has evolved into a strong, decisive and assured young woman, performer and business woman.
With many hit singles under her belt, several movie credits, and a horde of followers on social media, Seyi Shay is still applying the pressure as she continues to chart her course across the music industry into our airwaves and smartphones. It’s hard to not be proud of her journey so far when you consider how marginalized female entertainers are within the industry.
She sits in conversation with me, Vanguard Allure’s LATASHA NGWUBE. I’ll let you enjoy this fine Sunday interview in Seyi Shay’s own words.
They say a woman who changes her hair is about to change her life… any truth to that adage as we admire this bold new look of yours?
I guess there is! I’m changing my whole approach to life, to my music and the way I do business in music; I have a new team, a new deal, and a new project to release. I recently bought another car and I moved into a new house in Ikoyi with my studio set up there. I’m focused on all that and my growth from a girl into a Big Girl.
2020 has been a rollercoaster to say the least. From the global pandemic all the way to racial and gender issues at an all time high, it’s safe to say nothing about this year has been business as usual. How have you been affected personally by it all?
As a musician, a lot of my livelihood is based on live shows and endorsements. Sadly, the global pandemic meant that I lost all those. I was unable to see my family that live outside the country with the ease I’m accustomed to.
Even with everything happening globally Nigeria’s music scene has been shinning bright with so many new EP and album releases. What is keeping the industry going from your point of view?
On one hand this has a lot to do with streams and on the other it goes to show the strength in our numbers and our culture globally.
Tell us about the inspiration behind your new single TUALE. There’s something about it that appeals to “the streets”. Was it created during this season or it just worked out as a coincidence?
Funny you ask but I wrote and recorded TUALE 3 years ago with Dr Amir, the producer. We decided to bring it out of the archives as we felt the message was very apt for the times we are currently in.
Tuale is a tuneful pro-hard work anthem record that eulogizes people who scale the
everyday hurdles of life and get their hands dirty for a legitimate source of income.
The song which doubles as an ode to my dedicated fans and supporters, has vocal contributions from African music heavyweights; Ycee, Zlantan and Small Doctor.
Being born and raised in the Uk means you obviously have dual citizenship. Many bailed out on the emergency evacuation flights but you stayed… why?
I stayed because of all the work I had to do on ground, working with NGOs, lending a voice and sensitizing the public about the safety measures against Coronavirus. I also wanted to spend time recording and making more content. I did not want to have to go through the 14 days quarantine one has to go through upon entry into the UK only to be eventually locked out of Nigeria which has now become my primary residence.
It seems you have been busy in spite of the obstacles and factors of life as we know it. How have you preserved your mental and emotional energy?
Honestly, I just prayed and meditated a lot and I still do. I kept in touch with people I hold dear and focused on all the things I still want achieve.
“Securing the bag” is one of the new terms that simply translates into making money and keeping that wealth intact… Obviously, with live performances at an all time low, what other ventures have you dabbled into or how have you maintained the status quo?
Over the years I’ve made some pretty savvy investments. I own farm land in the North, I acquired some land and property and I also write songs for a living. The songwriting brings in royalties every now and again and so like everyone else I do what I must to ‘secure the bag’!
While the world was in lockdown, many people picked up new skills, signed up for courses etc. What new thing (if any) did you try?
I took up a course in Public Speaking. I
also signed up to the very popular Masterclass app and took up acting classes to brush up on my acting skills.
What’s been your biggest lessons so far in 2020?
Life is short. Do everything you have ever wanted to do, if you’re able to. Love and live well.
A few months ago, there was a report of your phone being hacked and some racy images were posted on your personal social media handles. For the record, what really happened and how was the situation resolved?
Someone seemingly close thought it would be a good idea to release private pictures of me (saved in my personal hard drive and intended for my beloved and I)
I had a few people that were entrusted with my devices (not anymore though). Whether it happened as a joke that eventually got out of hand or out of spite, the culprit has now been cut off. The end.
What’s in the pipeline for you as we countdown the remaining months of the year?
My next single Pempe, featuring Yemi Alade drops around the end of October. I’ll be speaking on the UNGA panel this year. The event offers a multilateral discussion of international issues, with mine being gender equality and the enhancement of girls/women, locally and globally. I’ll be representing Africa and speaking alongside a few global citizens like Naomi Campbell and Lewis Hamilton.
International collaborations have become THE NORM! You’re no stranger having worked with acts like Teyana Taylor and Missy Elliot. What are some other positive milestones do you hope for the African music industry?
I’ve been blessed enough to be alive during this time of global milestones for the African music industry. I hope to see and be a pivotal part of even more.
Are you, like the rest of Nigeria, watching Big Brother?
I’ve performed severally across different seasons of Big Brother but the last one I actually watched must have been 2 years ago. With that being said even though I haven’t been watching this lockdown edition, in my heart, I’m rooting for the girls of course! Girl power always!!!
There was talk of you in a serious relationship you allegedly walked out of which led you to sharing deep feelings with your single female social media followers. You talked about making better decisions for self amongst other things. Care to shed more light on this?
I walked in on a young lady I’d never met before, lying naked on the bed I shared with my now ex-fiance. Need I say more? It was traumatic but I learned a very big lesson which was – take your time and listen to your inner voice when it tells you something is wrong, either with you, him or the relationship.
Self-care has become a buzzword now for any respectable millennial. What does that look like for you- Seyi Shay?
Spoiling myself to treats when I can, traveling, eating good food, working out and protecting my energy.
Virtual exchanges are now a part of our lives for the foreseeable future. New acts are about to discovered online in a massive way. You even led an activation that would enable upcoming musicians feature you on their songs. Tell us a bit about that and why you did it?
I called for upcoming artistes to send in their demos with a space for me to feature on. The winners were selected some weeks ago out of hundreds of entries. My plan is to market and distribute these songs I’ve featured for free as times are hard and most up and coming musicians don’t have the funds to push their music themselves.
I did this as a way of giving back and to help talents get discovered in a genuine and organic way.
What advice do you have for the young artistes in the game?
Be original and don’t give up.
If you could, what would you say now to Seyi Shay of year 2000?
You can’t trust everyone. Think before you act. Keep your eyes on the prize. Everything’s going to work out perfectly.