If you know your Afrobeats, you’ve definitely heard of Seyi Shay.
The British-born Nigirian singer-songwriter has been killing it since bursting onto the Nigerian music scene in 2015 with her debut album “Seyi or Shay”. Now, the Top 10 artist is back, with her latest single Tuale out today and her next EP ready to drop later this year.
Seyi has come far since her after-school recording sessions in North London. She began her career performing with the London Community Gospel Choir. Later she opened for Beyonce on the UK leg of her “I AM…” World Tour as part of the Pop group “From Above”.
Since those early years, Seyi has relocated to Nigeria to pursue her solo career. And the highlights have continued, with multiple award nominations as well as collaborations and performances with a host of Afrobeats heavyweights: D’Banj, Wizkid, Tiwa Savage and Darey just to name a few.
However if you’re familiar with her music, you know that Seyi isn’t confined to one genre. She’s an artist who likes to experiment and push her musical boundaries. She’s as much at home sharing a stage with Mary J. Blige as she is collaborating with Vector.
Above all, Seyi Shay has fostered a strong relationship with her fans. With over 1 million followers on Instagram, she describes her newest release as an ode to the dedicated audience that has been with her on her journey over the years.
To celebrate the video release of her latest single, Tuale, we spoke to Seyi Shay about making the move from London to Nigeria, transitioning from a girl group to becoming a solo artist and what fans can expect from her EP Big Girl later this year.
Firstly, your last single “Gimme Love” was a huge international success – what was collaborating with Teyana Taylor and the whole process behind the track like?
I recorded the song ATL and it originally featured Runtown. While out there I attended an award ceremony. Teyana performed and I was so blown away by her performance that I almost wished I had met her earlier. My manager at the time already knew her quite well and was able to send her Gimme Love, the original. Her response was “my daughter loves this record so much and won’t stop singing it”. Right away we asked her to jump on the remix. We later met up in NYC, her hometown, and shot the video with JM FILMS. Teyana was a pleasure to work with and she is generally a really nice person with good vibes.
Having grown up and begun your music career in the UK, how does the Nigerian music industry compare? Was it an easy transition for you?
It was an easy transition for me because I already had a lot of support from well established artistes in the Nigerian industry. The difference between the international music industry and Nigerian music industry is that Nigerians are generally just pushing and doing most of the leg work themselves when it comes to production and distribution, so it’s much harder but much more rewarding.
Like many songwriters, you’ve written songs for other artists. What’s it like seeing and hearing your music being performed by someone else?
It’s really a pleasure to see and hear other people singing the songs I’ve written, especially when they deliver it well. I always feel so honored.
“Seyi or Shay” was your debut solo album – what was the journey to that first release like?
It was released independently, so it was a bumpy ride. I was ripped off a lot, a lot of the back end was not really handled so well, so there were a lot of release issues. But I had a good team at the time so, eventually, I released a really successful album.
Your latest single”Tuale” is out now. Can you tell us the story behind the track?
I wanted to diversify my approach to music in order to relate to people under the current climate. So I, as a result, penned a eulogy dedicated to everyday people who scale the hurdles of life, never back down and survive through all of the hurdles of life and it’s setbacks. The message of course is in the form of a song titled TUALE, which means “salute” or “shout out”. I am saluting and shouting out everyone who is holding it down for themselves and their families and all my fans who have been holding me down all these years.
Did you know you wanted to collaborate with Ycee, Zlatan Ibile and Small Doctor when you were writing the song?
I never had a feature in mind originally. Dr Amir , the producer of the record felt it would be a good idea to feature artists that have a presence in the streets scene because of the musicality of the record. Who better than Zlatan and Small Doctor??
And later this year you’re releasing your next EP, “Big Girl”. What can fans expect?
A revolution to music.
And after “Big Girl” drops, what’s next for you?
That’s a surprise!