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Feeling blue? Shazza’s tunes are here to the rescue!

Clad in blue, with a backdrop of balloons and belting out a peppy tune about throwing a pity party – this was my first visual of Shazza. Jolting me from my mindless scroll through social media was a 10-second snippet of ‘Pity Party‘, the first music video from the local singer-songwriter, Shareefa Aminah, better known by her alias, Shazza. 

It piqued my interest enough to immediately switch to YouTube to hear the entire track. Within the first minute, I was nodding my head to Pity Party – partly because I was bopping to the groovy beats, but also because I deeply related to the lyrics, advocating that it’s okay to give ourselves a break in this mad rat race. By the end of 20 verses and a glimpse into Shazza’s Pity Party, I knew that she successfully took the cake in producing a banger.

While Pity Party, released this February, was Shazza’s launchpad that propelled her into the local music scene as a professional artist, her journey with music began much earlier. Growing up in a family who had the tunes of ABBA, Nora Jones and The Black Eyed Peas on repeat, Shazza had a soundtrack for every moment in her life. Her love for music and performance started with weekly choir sessions after school and has now evolved into her writing and producing her own songs. 

I sat with the up-and-coming 21-year-old artist to learn more about her songwriting journey, making music and what the creative process means to her. 

Shazza Pity Party cover
Shazza on the set of Pity Party – and it certainly is as blue as can be

“I never grew out of the childhood dream of wanting to be a singer”, confessed Shazza. What started with random lyrics bouncing in her head quickly took shape into full-fledged songs she would pen down, one of which was her very first original, ‘Get Well Soon’, published on YouTube at the age of 17. While filled with effusive lyrics about wishing someone dear to get well soon, the song has a humorous backstory which Shazza let me in on. The song was actually intended to emote a fangirl wishing her celebrity crush a speedy recovery.

While, in hindsight, the intent might have been frivolous – the backstory is still met with Shazza’s chuckles – the heartfelt, well-rhymed lyrics, mixed with a soulful melody, clicked with many. To date, ‘Get Well Soon’ has the highest views on Shazza’s platform, with the comments section filled with sentiments of appreciation and affection. “It was crazy how my music could evoke such emotion at such a scale”, reflected Shazza, stating that her leap of faith with ‘Get Well Soon’ was a game-changer for her as an artist and pushed her to continue honing her craft. 

With age and experience, Shazza grew out of songwriting as a mere hobby and forged a deeper, more intimate relationship with music. As she began to experience her coming of age, navigating polytechnic and having more complex, personal experiences, it did not take long for the songstress to find catharsis in making music and baring her emotions in her work. “Songwriting feels like an instinct; it almost feels like breathing. It’s a huge part of who I am as a person, and it helps me understand the world around me better,” said Shazza.

Shazza artistic shot
Over the years, Shazza has grown into her own, and bares her emotions in her craft

The culmination of her purposeful songwriting, education as a media student, and unwavering passion ultimately earned Shazza a win for her original piece, It Takes Two, at Xtract – a collaborative competition arranged by her polytechnic’s radio station, Radio Heatwave, and Spinnup. The win for her groovy pop number was a momentous milestone for the singer-songwriter, especially since the panel of judges was composed of eminent local artists such as YAØ and ABANGSAPAU. 

Since then, Shazza has made one thing clear – she is on her way to cementing an identity for herself in the local music scene. This year, Shazza came out with two singles – ‘Pity Party’ and ‘Be Kind’, with both songs accompanied by music videos as well. 

The tracks are upbeat, catchy pop numbers but speak of deeper, visceral themes such as the pressures of hustle culture, burnout, owning compassion in a fast-paced world and staying true to one’s self. The contrast of the upbeat music against the sombre lyrics is a deliberate choice, says Shazza, explaining how she ultimately sees her songs as an anthem to help others experiencing similar emotions get through their trials and tribulations.

Before being an artist, Shazza sees herself as a Singaporean youth, daunted by the future ahead of her. Constantly comparing oneself to others, feeling stifled by hustle culture, and the need to have one’s entire life sorted out are pressures which plague her as well. In fact, as an artist who wants to pave a path for herself in the music industry, the practicality of her creative pursuits is also something Shazza often wrestles with.

Shazza Be Kind Cover
The cover art for Be Kind – a piece about the struggle to stay compassionate in a fast-paced world

However, the artist is determined not to confine herself in a box and wants to push her limits, and seeks to encourage others to do the same. Her songs strike the perfect balance between making one’s struggles feel seen while still being a cheer of encouragement to move past our hurdles. 

Shazza’s sights are set on the future as she works towards finding her foothold in the music industry on the heels of her latest releases. Beyond just making a name for herself, she also aspires to bring more representation to the table as a Hijabi artist. She strives to break boundaries and prove that mainstream music and creativity in Singapore can transcend cultures and borders. 

In fact, Shazza recently performed at Ms. Marvel Cosmic Block Party, an event to celebrate the launch of the new Disney Plus series, Ms Marvel. As someone who grew up devouring the Ms Marvel comic series and experienced the impact and importance of representation, Shazza sees such opportunities as a way to pay it forward and do for others what characters like Ms Marvel have done for her. 

Shazza proudly embraces her culture and seeks to bring more representation to the music scene

What is most personal is most universal, and Shazza’s music is a testament to that. It’s hard to perfect the balance between producing deeply introspective art that can also strike a chord with the masses, but it seems that the juggling act comes naturally to Shazza. Her body of work speaks to the immense potential the 21-year-old beholds, and I cannot wait to see the strides Shazza takes in her future endeavours. However, till then, you can find me adding Shazza’s songs to my ‘dance party at 3am’ playlist and ‘quarter life crisis at 3am’ playlist. 

To add Shazza’s tracks to your playlists, be sure to check her out on Spotify, YouTube, YouTube Music and Deezer!

Visuals courtesy of Iman Izzati.

Srinidhi Ragavendran

Usually uses her miniature height as her sole personality trait, but also likes to be known for her weird obsession with Astrology, Breaking Bad and Road-Trip movies.

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