Shamir Bailey aka just Shamir is every bit the modern day pop star, the 20 year old Las Vegas native refuses to conform and instead attempts to bring everyone together with his feel good pop discography. A cult has developed around him, becoming a queer icon of the internet and tumblr, refusing to identify as any gender and stating “To those who keep asking, I have no gender, no sexuality and no fucks to give”.
Growing up in North Las Vegas, his parents and aunt exposed him to a diverse range of music that he took inspiration from in his EP’s and album including Janis Joplin, Nina Simone and Billie Holiday along with R&B and Hip hop. He embraces his unique androgynous voice, when asked about it he stated “it’s not feminine, it’s not masculine. It’s a happy median… I feel like if the world was more like that, our problems would be gone”; a statement that goes vastly beyond the mere subject of his voice.
After sending a demo off, Shamir signed to XL recordings, becoming label partners with other pop majesties FKA twigs, Dizzie Rascal and M.I.A, however in turn having to change his more country style sound since the business people felt the pairing of his voice with dance music would be more marketable. Ratchet, released earlier this year is a development of his earlier demos, a mix of simple electronica like Vegas, and the rowdy party that comes with On The Regular, whilst Call It Of liberates the dance floor. Amongst the school playground jargon like ‘Ratchet’ and perhaps the more unlikely ‘Don’t try me, I’m not a free sample’ Bailey demonstrates wit and sharpness within his lyrics. His album is bipolar, jumping from the sass and fuck it attitudes in On The Regular, to sadness and Nina Simone orchestral melancholy in Darker.
Switching from juxtaposing emotions with such suddenness only makes it harder to put Shamir in any sort of box, especially when you find out he spent his youth covering Miranda Lambert in a punk band called Anorexia. Shamir’s certainly liberating the word ‘different’ one sassy remark at a time.
Words by Daisy Lester