I don’t know whether the future will really be female — though I certainly hope so. All I know is that today belongs to SH3. And no wonder: The Toronto talent isn’t just a pop singer-songwriter; she’s also an audio engineer, producer and arranger. She dished up her latest single Gelato HERE a few weeks ago. Now she returns with some answers to my ridiculous questions. Read on. After all, there’s no time like the present:
Introduce yourself: Name, age (feel free to lie), home base, other details you’d like to share (height, weight, identifying marks, astrology sign, your choice).
My name is SH3, pronounced ‘she’, and is based on an acronym for ‘sound healer.’ Also, 3 is one of my favourite numbers, so it allows my name to be a word instead of just a sound (lol). I identify with the phrase sound healer because music has this amazing ability to express what we can’t say at times and sonically, the way our brains respond to certain frequencies is something I’m very interested in. I’m born and raised in Toronto. I got my start songwriting for local talent and eventually started working with artists affiliated with OVO. If you would have told me as a child that Toronto was going to become a hub for cutting-edge hip-hop and R&B I honestly would not have believed you. I grew up thinking, well if I want this career to work I’m going to have to eventually make my way to Los Angeles or an entertainment-driven city like that, but the culture in Toronto has become so strong, people are excited to meet a Torontonian when I travel.
What is your musical origin story?
I’ve always had an inclination towards singing, more specifically songwriting. As a child growing up with The Spice Girls, I always wanted to write a song like the ones they sang. I remember being 6, and writing a song called Who Do You Love More, but couldn’t get past writing the hook. I would think to myself, how am I gonna make this last three minutes?! My parents knew I wanted to take voice lessons, but they felt it was important I learn piano first. I’m very glad they had this insight because knowing piano is such a powerful tool, not only for musical development but for songwriting. I studied piano for about five years. I started voice lessons soon after with Juno-nominated artist Romina Di Gasbarro. She knew I was heavily interested in songwriting, and as I would share songs I wrote, she would give me recommendations of artists to listen to to help fine tune my sound. I remember walking out of a lesson once with two bags filled with CDs from her collection. Romina also introduced me to Toronto jazz guitarist David Occhipinti and I studied guitar with him. From there I decided to study jazz voice and I received my Bachelor in Fine Arts Music from York University. My undergrad was where I started to get more heavily into audio production and made the shift from writing at the piano and guitar to writing to beats I would make.
What do we need to know about your latest project?
My latest single is called Gelato, and it was a song I was honestly hesitant to even put out, let alone make a video for. I was encouraged by my team NroiDBeats to put together a folder of demos, specifically to write 100 songs in two months. These songs weren’t meant for me to sing, but to shop to other artists. Gelato was one of these songs, as well as the majority of songs that are on the project H2 Zoom Voicenotes. However, as I showed people Gelato, they loved the track, loved hearing my voice on it and encouraged me to release it as my own. My hesitation lied in the uncertainty if this track accurately represented me as an artist. The tracks I usually write for myself are more introspective and vulnerable, whereas Gelato is more carefree and lighthearted. After going back and forth in my mind, I eventually accepted that Gelato is a part of me just as much as any other song I’ve written, and I felt at peace with releasing it.
What truly sets you apart from other artists?
I would say how deeply I’m a part of the music-making process. I not only song write, but I audio engineer, produce and vocal arrange, and those are all skills I use when I make my music. I love when it’s time to add backing vocals to a track because that’s when I can let my ear run free and keep layering my voice until my heart’s content.
What will I learn or how will my life improve by listening to your music?
I’ve always been attracted to music that has moody undertones, smooth muted synths, slow in tempo, minor keys, because they tend to bring a sense of calmness to me. I hope that when people listen to my music it can provide a similar effect. Especially with my earlier project, Heart Of Gold, the sounds are very melancholy and the lyric style is very stream of consciousness based. I look forward to bringing more of that style back in my work.
Tell us about the first song you wrote and / or the first gig you played and what you got paid.
The first complete song I wrote was called There You Go when I was 14. Still to this day my closest friends will sing it here and there, and I still feel like it’s a song that Demi Lovato would hit out the park!
What is the best / worst / strangest / most memorable performance you gave?
I remember doing a performance in a competition in my teens where I was the only singer-songwriter competing and everyone else were heavy rock bands. It also reflected in the crowd, so safe to say I felt very out of place when I walked on stage to sing my R&B/Pop styled songs.
What is the best / worst / strangest / most memorable performance you’ve seen another artist give?
Beyoncé’s Mrs. Carter World Tour was one the most memorable performances for me. I traveled to Montreal with a good friend of mine to watch it, and then I bought a solo ticket to watch it again when she came to Toronto.
What do you want to be doing in 10 years?
I want to be doing what I’m doing but at an even higher level. I want to get stronger with my ProTools chops, I want to be a sought-out collaborator to work with, and I see myself getting into music therapy because I am so interested in music being used as a tool for wellness.
What living or dead artists would you collaborate with if you could?
What artist or style of music do you love that would surprise people?
I love chamber and choral music so much, mostly due to my heavy involvement in choirs when I was in highschool. I love choral pieces by Canadian composer Eleanor Daley, if you can, check out her version of Ave Maria and Welsh composer Paul Mealor, his version of Ubi Caritas is breathtaking.
What are your favourite songs / albums / artists right now?
I’m really liking artists from Nigeria at the moment. I’m listening to JoeBoy and Reekado Banks, among others. The music is just so infectious and well written.
How about some other favourites: Authors, movies, painters, you name it.
Love me some dystopian novels. Some of my favourites are The Chrysalids, A Clockwork Orange, 1984. I also love A Wrinkle In Time, and when I want to feel entertained I’ll read pretty much anything by Canadian mystery author Norah McClintock. I love British TV, (I think that’s the growing up with TVO as a kid) like Fake or Fortune and The Undateables, and I also love watching Murdoch Mysteries. Basically my tastes are that of a woman in her 50s (aside from Stranger Things, which I’m obsessed with, and is my inspiration for my track Stranger Things).
What superpower do you want and how would you use it?
How cool would it be to automatically be able to detect and speak any language in the world? I think that would be a cool power to have.
What skills — useful or useless — do you have outside of music?
I’m super into DIY projects. If I can, I’ll try making something before I have to cave in and buy it.
What do you collect?
I have a pretty decent coin collection from when I was a kid. My dad and I would get books and do research on Lincoln Wheat Backs and it was always fun to see if we could find a coin worth millions.
If I had a potluck, what would you bring?
Probably something easily shareable like a Tabbouleh salad. I love food from the Middle East.
Tell us about your current and/or former pets.
All I’ve ever owned were fish growing up. I think it’d be nice though having a pet in the future, because I see the relationship some people have with their pets and it looks like they have such a strong connection.
What’s the best advice and/or worst advice you were ever given?
Just start whatever it is you want to achieve. We’re constantly evolving as people and there really is no perfect time to release something. I have a habit of hoarding music and waiting and waiting until I feel the time is right, but there’s no such thing! If releasing Gelato taught me anything it’s to just start putting out content. Who you are in a few years might not match the music you’re keeping hidden. You can be strategic about it, but definitely just start putting yourself out there.