Seyi Shay: Bold, Growing and Happy
When someone has talent and is willing to put in work, there is almost nothing unachievable for such a person. This is true for the creatives in Nigeria that have dared to spread their wings, and it is extremely true for talented singer Seyi Shay. While on the path to what most would consider a highly successful career in the United States of America, Seyi decided to leave it all behind and come back home. Since her return, she has slowly but surely made her way up the Nigerian music ladder.
Most recent in her long list of achievements is Seyi’s African tour. We sit down with her during one of her breaks from her tour to talk about her career. Talking with this delightful songstress, I come to understand the energy we see in her videos comes from a natural place. Conversation is easy with this bubbly, bright, woman.
Thank you for taking the time to talk with us. How’s your African tour going?
Thank you for having me. About the tour, we’ve been at it for three months already. We have been to Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya, and South Africa. Up next, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and some others.
I can tell how excited you are about the tour. What are your highlights so far?
My highlight from the tour thus far is definitely South Africa. Performing at the Club Coco in Cape Town, the show was sold out and it was amazing. And then Pretoria and Jo’Burg – truly just amazing. I think South Africa is my favourite because of the beauty of the country.
At this point, I bring up Seyi’s most recent blunders on television and how social media has been popping with them. I’ve always been of the opinion that she does these things intentionally, and Seyi giggles when I ask. I ask if there’s a particular reason why she’s making these blunders or if it’s just for the LOLs.
You know, I’ve never really taken myself too seriously because I believe life is too short. Also, I generally feel like there’s a lot more going on in my life than just the business of music. I’ve done music for fifteen years in different parts of the world and what I’ve learned is to not take it too seriously. Sometimes, let people make fun of you – love hard, laugh harder. I made a particular mistake in December with the T-W-O thing, and it’s still funny. I figured, why not keep doing it, just for the LOLs, you know?
You’ve released a couple of singles, recently put out an album, and now you’re touring Africa. Are you satisfied with where you are as an artiste?
Yes, absolutely. I’m not going to stop now though, because I still have so much to achieve and do. For instance, I have my CSR and I have so much to do for the growing children looking up to me. I need to make enough money to be able to support that. I also need to make a statement and be planted firmly enough for people to take me seriously when I tell them to support me for one cause or the other. This is one of the major reasons why I do what I do; I don’t do it for self-gain or vanity.
Speaking about CSR, you were recently vocal about domestic violence. Does this have anything to do with your latest video with Olamide ‘Pack and Go’?
Olamide actually wrote the song ‘Pack and Go’, but the funny thing is I didn’t record that song with any campaign against domestic violence in mind. My CSR has more to do with less privileged children. When the song came out, people became even more alert to how rife domestic violence against women is in Nigeria. Even worse, nobody is doing anything about it because Nigeria is still largely a patriarchal society. That was when I dedicated this song to the cause. Thankfully, Pack and Go speaks to abused women and I’m really proud and happy Olamide wrote that song and made me come to the studio to record it.
Do you think you are doing enough in the industry now to help you build what you are trying to achieve?
Honestly, I think I could be doing more but, again, it depends on what you consider to be ‘enough’ and also what your definition of ‘more’ is.
Your singles are spread pretty far apart, and it took a while for your album ‘Seyi or Shay’ to come out. Do you think you could or should be doing more music more frequently?
I’m going to focus more on the songs I already have and the album that’s already been put together. It takes time to distribute music and it takes a lot of money. However, I like the pace it’s moving at right now. I feel like God is really do His thing in my life.
Considering how much you had going for you in the United States of America, do you still feel like moving back to Nigeria to do music here was a good move?
I still feel like it’s the best decision I ever made in my life. Africa right now is the focal point of music, believe it or not. We have a lot of people looking to Nigerians, South Africans, West Africans and East Africans to bring something to the world, musically. I mean, look at Wizkid; he’s presently one of the biggest artistes in the world and he’s Nigerian. There’s no prouder time to be a Nigerian making music than now. When I was working with Matthew Knowles and the girls, it was really just a development and training ground for me. If I had stayed in the UK, the opportunities I have now probably would have never happened because there are 10,000 artistes just like me.
What changes would you like to be a part of and see in the Nigerian music industry?
Well, I’m already part of the change. Five years ago, nobody was going to look at Nigerian artistes and take us seriously. I have an international record deal with Island Records, and I’m one of the few Nigerian artistes to be so blessed. This means I now have a great opportunity to distribute my music globally. We’re still working on the music for that deal, but it’s a work in progress.
Sometimes, we get carried away with our hustle and it makes sense to give it our all. Sadly, a good number of us lose ourselves in the process of building our brands and businesses. Seyi Shay has mastered the art of living her life in a way that keeps her happy, and still pushing her music so it gets to the places she wants it to go. We’re super excited for future projects the singer is working on, including an EP she revealed to us she will be releasing at the end of this year.
Photographer: H3Kenny by Kene Nwatu
Stylist: Henry Uduku
Makeup: Jumoke Tychus for Eyesome Beauty