Calfornia-based upcoming singer, Siaira Shawn has a sultry voice that could melt butter. She met up with us at dapperQ to share her music, love, and style with our readers. Get to know her.
DQ: Tell us a bit about Siaira Harris.
SS: Well, I go by Siaira Shawn for music purposes. I’m never really sure how to answer this, besides what’s already on my bio. (Laughs). I am a singer/songwriter, sometimes actress, work in the community— a lot with youth. That’s the short and sweet. What else would you want to know?
DQ: Can you tell us a bit more about your work with youth?
SS: Currently, I’m a youth worker at a high school. I work with 9th and 10th graders on interpersonal skills, sexual reproductive health, service learning. I’m also apart of an organization called redbikeandgreen; I’m trying to get a chapter started in NY. Also, youth college readiness and stuff like that.
DQ: That’s amazing. Does your work with youth relate to your music?
SS: Not this job, unfortunately. I have done that work before and would like to do it again. I taught basic vocal techniques and songwriting to youth aged 15 and up. I also gave a songwriting class with Girls Rock in Cali for middle school girls. I’ve always performed for the organizations I’ve worked for or for friends’ organizations around youth and community events—been a guest speaker, etc.…
DQ: Speaking of vocals—your voice is really beautiful. Most of your songs rely on the strength of your voice. Your beats are pretty minimalist and your voice draws in the listeners. Is there a reason for that?
SS: Thanks. Hmm… I guess I have heard the opposite a lot, so I’ve been striving to make sure that the vocals and the words are at the forefront, while still having a good and complimentary musicscape. I think a lot of people hide behind beats, that’s not the type of singer I am.
SS: Well good. (Laughs).
DQ: Are there any struggles you face as an up-and-coming independent artist?
SS: Definitely! (Laughs). First, I don’t really have representation (i.e. manager, booking agent, any sort of company) behind me, so that makes everything that much harder. I’ve been blessed to have folks who are willing to help me for barter or free because they believe in me and I do a lot on my own. But I don’t have connections or resources to get where I want to be at the moment.
DQ: Lets talk a little more about believing in yourself. Do you ever have those low moments where you let negativity make you lose faith in yourself?
SS: Mmm… I try not to ever lose faith in myself; I believe this is my purpose. But I do have low moments, when it feels like no one knows who I am or cares. (Laughs) —Or that I’m not going to get that person(s) and/or that push to get me there.
SS: What are we wandering into? (Laughs) Go for it!
DQ: Has love been kind to you in the past?
SS I think love has done what love does; there’s good and bad, but always lessons learned and growth.
DQ: True that. Do you see your music as an instrument to help people navigate love?
SS: Umm… I hope it is. Yeah, I definitely seek to talk about all aspects of love and maybe articulate some things not really written about or that people can’t quite articulate for themselves.
DQ: You wear your hair natural. Have you faced any of the problems other people have in keeping their hair natural? For instance, issues with employers, finding a good barber, and knowing how to care for your hair?
SS: Umm… not that many – no. I either work in the arts or for non-profits— finding a barber is sometimes intimidating upon that first walk in of the shop, but even recently a barber down the street from my house saw me at bus stop and gave me his information. (Laughs). So that has been cool. Yes, off and on the care can be hard, but recently with me not moving around so much and the help of a very special person, who has become my hair guru, (laughs) it’s been good.
SS: I think people have certain assumptions depending on how I present, I get different types of attention, but nothing really drastic.
DQ: What kind of assumptions?
SS: Umm, not sure exactly, I just know it happens (laughs). Sometimes about what kind of person I am; how I identify; what I’m into…
DQ: How would you define your style? Where do you shop mostly?
SS: Umm… Always a hard question for me… Mmm… I definitely enjoy menswear, I’m big into prints, I like for things to fit well. I’m from Cali, so I love to be well put together—kinda preppy. But I also have some hippie in me (laughs). —thrift shops a lot lately; living that broke life (laughs)…Indie designers, I like AA, Zara, Topshop.
DQ: Do you have any style or shopping advice for the gender blenders out here?
SS: I just think wear what makes you happy and comfortable. Again I’m all about fit, so whatever size, whatever style, make sure it flatters you.