After a very long hiatus, Shekhinah has returned with her sophomore album “Trouble In Paradise”.
The last time I sat down with the “Your Eyes” hitmaker to talk about music was right after the release of her debut album “Rose Gold”.
At the time, the songstress had already garnered acclaim for her top-charting features on songs such as “Back To The Beach”.
“Rose Gold”, along with the songs from the album, resonated with local music fans like very few artists have done.
In 2019, Shekhinah was the most streamed local female artist on Spotify and was in the top 10 again in 2020, almost 4 years after the release of her debut album.
Shekhinah’s ability to stay at the top of the charts and sales shows just how people will gravitate towards great artistry, without pandering to trends.
I chatted to the beloved songstress, following the release of her second album, about how the huge success of her debut album impacted her, the reason behind the long hiatus and creation process of “Trouble In Paradise”.
“Rose Gold” was both critically and commercially acclaimed, with Shekhinah bagging three South African Music Awards in 2018.
Speaking about the overwhelming success of the project she says: ”I think it just put a lot of pressure for me to like I felt like an imposter. I think I felt like it was a fluke, you know, and I couldn’t do it again.
“But I tried so hard to remind myself that I had songs out before I released my debut album.
“So, I am more than just my album. I am more than just that.
“And I had a lot of titles, and I was really just trying to overcome and just be myself, it was difficult.
“So my debut album, although it was successful, just put a lot of doubts and insecurities on the next thing that I had to do,” she said.
It has been close to five years since the release of “Rose Gold” and fans of the singer have been begging for her new project.
When she dropped the lead single “Fixate”, fans were overjoyed knowing that his sophomore album was close by.
Speaking about the making of her second album and why she took a long break, Shekhinah says: “I think it was nice because I got a chance to live and experience things, and to make mistakes … to understand the situation.
“So it wasn’t like me speaking off one heartbreak or one friendship lost.
“It was like multiple bridges burned … So I had experienced a lot of things in those five years of trying to put together this project.
“And I was just really trying to understand everything that I was going through.
“I’m really slow, like just in general – as a person. So it took me a long time to be able to say, ’Okay, this is how I feel’.
“This is what I’m going through … I said, ’You’ve made some mistakes, you’ve made some blunders,’ and then I’d sing about it, and sing about it from a well-informed perspective,” she said.
On “Trouble In Paradise”, Shekhinah tackles many themes and shared the difference this time around, writing and producing this album compared to Rose Gold.
“I think what was different this time was I wanted to work with this one producer on most of the songs and then whatever else comes in is what’s meant to be on the project, and it is something that happened organically.
“But there’s a lot of differences between this project and the last project. And I think a lot of it is due to the dynamic of how things worked.
“We did a lot of the stuff in the studio versus being at home, but we decided that we needed to be in a better environment.
“I think with ’Rose Gold’, I had a deadline and I stuck to the deadline.
“With ’Trouble In Paradise’, I was like, no, I’m not having it … And I would take a lot of breaks.
“But really I just waited for the music to come to me and enforce it with this project, and I’m so happy with the outcome,” she added.
In 2019, the “Please Mr” singer had surgery to remove nodules on her vocal cords and her tonsils.
Speaking about the effect this had since she was forced to take an extended time off she says: “Yeah, definitely. It was so difficult to use my voice after surgery like I literally didn’t know how to sing.
“I still don’t know how to like belt it out anymore. It’s very weird. But I’m grateful because I have not been sick since I’ve had my vocal surgery.”
On the album, “Miserable”, “Questions” and “Falls Apart” are some of the stand-out songs.
Speaking about the use of the saxophone sound for “Miserable”, she says: “So, you know, the sax in ’Miserable’ is actually played digitally. It’s obviously the sound of live sax, but we couldn’t get anyone into play the sax, which is so embarrassing.
“And I know that South Africans love a good sax. So it was important for us to keep it there, even though it kind of maybe didn’t fit in with the narrative of Black pop music.”
Furthermore, she also shared that “Questions” is set up to be a single, along with a music video for “Miserable”.
“Definitely a video for ’Questions’, definitely a video for ’Miserable’ and some other cool things in terms of live performance in your city (Cape Town), in my city (Durban), and in Jo’burg. I’m excited to roll out the fun part of the album,” she revealed.
For this album, Shekhinah also collaborated with the likes of Luke Goliath and Bey T.
Speaking about the people she chooses to work with on “Trouble In Paradise”, she said that she reaches out to people she’s a fan of, who want to work together.
After listening to both of Shekhinah’s projects, it’s clear she’s honed in on what her sound is and is content with not jumping on trends when it comes to her solo work.
Speaking about the reason behind this, she says: “Being authentic is how you relate to people – being yourself is how you relate to people. I realised every time I tried to be someone else, it hasn’t worked … One thing I realised is that being myself has always been what people relate to.”
With South Africa’s finally busy with the vaccine roll-out for a lot of artists, this means they’ll be able to back on stage at some point.
Speaking about what she missing from performing and plans for the future, she says: “It’s definitely performing ’Questions’ and ’Miserable’. I love them so much. Such labours of love.”
She continued: “I really, really, really just want to do other festivals. I love the festivals that we’ve done, but I’m excited to do new things.
“There are so many other festivals that I haven’t done that I would love to do. So I have lots of dreams.”
“Trouble In Paradise” is available on all streaming platforms.