I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Shakaya, a two girl R & B act from Australia, while they were here as an opening act for Destiny’s Child. Shakaya’s first single “Stop Calling Me” has gone platinum in Australia and reached number 5 on the AARIA charts.
So who are Shakaya?
Shakaya is Simone and Naomi, two wickedly cool girls from Cairns, Australia. Simone and Naomi were both attending the ATSIC (Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Commission) Music Course when they met each other. The chemistry was instant and they formed their band Shakaya.
So how did their rise to fame happen? “Reno, our manager had just opened up a studio in Cairns and we were looking for some work after playing in clubs. We sent him a demo and he liked it and we ended up recording in his studio, then we went to Sony and got signed up” Simone explains.
“Stop Calling Me” is Shakaya’s first released single. It’s a catchy R & B song about a personal experience with an overkeen, stalking male who won’t stop calling and won’t get over it. This song is to be taken lightly though – “It wasn’t quite that bad!” laughs Simone. “We’ve both had like ex-guys and ex-boyfriends and that ringing up afterwards, but it’s mainly just to say ‘stop calling me’ it’s just a message we want to put out to people, but everyone can relate to it”. “Stop Calling Me” has reached platinum in Australia and got to number 5 on the AARIA charts. Shakaya is stoked with their success of their first single – “That’s amazing. When we hit gold we were like yeah! Then we went platinum and we were like that’s excellent, absolutely amazing” Naomi proudly says.
Shakaya filmed their video clip for “Stop Calling Me” in Tom Cruises and Nicole Kidman’s ex-penthouse in Sydney. “We were looking around to see if they left anything behind. It was a beautiful apartment and we pretended it was ours for the day” says Simone. How does Simone and Naomi feel when they hear their song and see their video clip? “I don’t think we’ll ever get used to it”.
Shakaya write all their own lyrics and have enough songs for about 2 albums! The inspiration for their lyrics come from “Everywhere, mostly personal experiences and what friends have been through, stuff like that, a lot of what we write has got to do with love and relationships. There’s also another song that we wrote about bitchiness between girls”.
Shakaya has toured with Human Nature, Bardot and most recently Destiny’s Child on their down under tour. Simone recalls when they first met Destiny’s Child – “They (Destiny’s Child) came to our dressing room one night and knocked on our door and we thought it was our manager. And we were going ‘Get away, we’re not ready yet’. So we opened the door and I had my hair in rollers and they had their bodyguards with them filming us and they held out their hands and welcomed us to the tour and thanked us for joining them”.
Naomi and Simone share the same mixed heritage mix of Aboriginal, Vanuatu and White Australian heritage. “We’re now looked upon as young indigenous role models, and that’s something we’re pretty happy about. We want to lead the way for other young people” says Simone.
There’s a album in the works for Shakaya “We’ve pretty much got it all lined up, we just have to go back to the studio and redo a few things and get it all prepared and ready”. Shakaya describes the album (no title yet) as strong with reggae, ballads and R & B. Shakaya’s next single to be released is Sublime. “It’s a love story but we based it on a basket ball game. So we wrote it using basketball terms” Naomi describes. Mmmm sounds interesting. “We can’t wait cause there’s going to be a lot of hottie’s in the video” laughs Simone. Neither can nzgirls!
And Shakaya does have plans to release internationally – “We want to get a strong base in our hometown and New Zealand then we’ll definitely filter out internationally” says Naomi. Simone adds “There’s so many R & B artists around now and you want to see something from your own country (go nationally and international)”.
Shakaya’s advice for other aspiring singers or bands is “Don’t give up, take everything positive and don’t listen to negative things and just have fun! Cause whatever you put into you dreams, is what you’re gonna get out”.
And finally was there anything Shakaya would like to shout out to nzgirls?
“We love you! We just happy to have finally come here and we’re looking forward to coming here again soon, we want to check out your hot springs (Waiwera)!”