Over the years the Caribbean music industry has been dominated by males, whether they are as disc jocks, toasters, singjays or dancers. The women of the industry have expressed their appreciation of the work the men did to be recognized for their own creativity. There is still work to be done to allow the female creatives the same respect their male counterparts receive. Contributor Terri K sat down to catch up with upcoming Jamaican artist Shenseea recently to learn a bit more about the woman behind the some of our favorite songs such as “Loodi”. We wanted to find out how she has dealt with her fast rise to stardom and what her plans are for the future. Take some time to get to know Shenseea in this exclusive interview or the Karibbean Kollective.
Is your stage named pronounced exactly like your given name, Chinsea, or should it be pronounced with the “sh” phonetic sound? Share with us the story behind the spelling.
Well it is to be pronounced with the “sh” phonetic sound, how we came about that though is that Romeich said there were too many Chins in the music industry, my name as is, is very unique but the we said it could be pronounced many other ways, so it was either going to be Chenseea or Shenseea. We googled ‘Chenseea’ and a lot of people came up and then we did ‘Shenseea’ and no one came up, so we decided ‘Shenseea’ was the best name to go with.
You’ve described yourself as a woman of pulchritude. What other characteristics define the woman we affectionately know as Shenseea?
I am a headstrong individual, not easily influenced. I’ve always been a leader ever since high school. I am a mother of a two-year-old. I am foodie as well. I love music; music has always been my first love. I can draw as well as paint, so I have two artistic talents. I am very hardworking and determined and have never given up on my dreams. Once I want it, I am going to get it.
What has it been like raising your two-year-old, Rajeiro, and balancing your career as a female deejay?
Well being a mom and an artiste it’s a challenge but a challenge that’s worth it. I love my son without end and me being an artiste, I’m paving a way financially for my son so he could get the life I never had growing as my mom had to work extremely hard to make ends meet. It is difficult and heartbreaking to have to leave him every so often to go [on] tours and shows overseas, but I am doing all of this for him
At Exed Community College, you majored in Entertainment Management. Why did you choose that major?
Well for Exed it was either Entertainment Management or Travel and Tours or Foods. I love Foods, I liked Travel and Tours but I loved Entertainment. I literally thought that I was going to be taught how to hit certain notes and work on my voice strength but when I started my course, I realized that I was being trained to be a manager so we mainly did Entertainment Law. I didn’t get to complete but I definitely mixed up Entertainment Management and [became an] Entertainer.
After your very first performance in church, you ran out crying. Tell us about the reason why and how you overcame that difficulty.
Believe it or not, I was a very shy girl. It was just very overwhelming to see all those people staring at me while I was singing. But it was my love for singing and my goals and aspiration to become an International Artiste [that] gradually helped me to overcome my fear. Now, I’m performing like I’ve been in this industry for years, still more room for improvement but every performance teaches me something new and I adapt well. This isn’t just my view but comments from my fans, my team and fellow artistes [as well].
Some of your favorite artists are the likes of the late Whitney Houston, Beenie Man, Bounty Killer and Buju Banton. What other artists have inspired your musical sound?
My musical sound is not inspired by one specific artiste, but all the veterans who have made their mark not just locally but internationally. I admire Whitney Houston’s vocals, Beenie Man’s stage presence, Bounty Killer’s aggression and Chronixx’s lyrics. Also, all [these] artistes have their own specific writing skills, their own ways to deliver. I am vocally versatile. I can sing, sing-jay, deejay and rap. All these different vocals will arise depending on my mood, the riddim and the type of song I’m writing.
You are the first recording artiste signed to Romeich Entertainment. You are also their first lady. What does that mean to you?
Words can’t explain what it means to me to be the first lady of Romeich Entertainment, and to actually be the first female artiste to be signed to a brand of such a great caliber, I’m overwhelmed. What Romeich has done for me, has never been done for any other artiste especially in such a short space of time. For him to not just be a talker but I’m a living example of that. People have seen the tremendous amount of work he has done and how hard he pushes me. Romeich is a marketing genius and he has built a platform where both his companies and my career can be impacted positively through the work being done.
You started working with Romeich as a signature promotion girl. What lessons did you learn that you have since applied to your musical artistry as well?
Being a brand Ambassador, to be an outstanding one first, you must study and know your brand and find ways to get your brand noticed. In music, I’ve used my knowledge of marketing. You have to learn to sell yourself to the public, how to conduct yourself on interviews and how to manage criticism.
Your popularity and status as an upcoming female dancehall deejay has been fast paced. Did you feel overwhelmed by your initial success? Tell us how you cope or manage to stay grounded.
Honestly, sometimes I might feel a bit overwhelmed because it has been a fast rise but I manage to stay grounded with my team behind me. [As far as] time management, it’s been hard where that is hard. I’ve been receiving numerous riddims and I have only a certain time to record. That’s been my biggest challenge as an upcoming artiste. I prayed a lot as well and I try to work as hard and I fast as I could. I won’t allow time to conquer me to my success, I have to keep going. Many times I’ll stay in the studio late from day light till nighttime and rest for a couple hours then I’m back again. Another factor that keeps me grounded is that I haven’t reached my full potential as yet and that is to be international, once I’ve reached my goal, there’s no return, just going to continue to excel.
If you had the opportunity to work with ONE prominent artist on a collaboration this year, who would it be and why?
Well, I would say Chronixx or Spice. Chronixx because I’ve been a fan of him for some time and I admire how he writes music and delivers. Spice, now she a female for one and we don’t have a lot of female artistes coming together and making songs and showcasing unity in the Industry. Plus, she is a tremendous artiste and performer, so yes most def Spice as well. And I think our fans are awaiting a collaboration as well.
Congratulations on being named a Brand Ambassador for Campari Caribbean. What was your initial reaction when you were named alongside veteran soca artist, BunjiGarlin?
Well that would be my third Corporate Deal in one year, not just in Jamaica but the Regional Ambassador, that’s really something big for me. But it was not really until after my signing that I found out that Bunji Garlin was also signed to Campari as well. Big up Bunji of course!
Subrosa (Come Closer) is your most recent release to date. Tell us about that single and music video.
Well Subrosa, the exact minute I heard the riddim, it spoke to me. But I didn’t want anything that was too soft but at the same time not aggressive. That was the vibe I went with. I actually looked up another word for ‘secrecy’ because you know a lot of people have secretive relationships. So I saw the word ‘Subrosa’ and I was like that word is rarely used and it was the first I’m hearing that so as I saw the meaning I knew a lot of people would look for the meaning as well and it would be a new slang people would now use. The video [was] shot in New York, it was about 20 degrees and it was snowing. I was really, really cold *laughs* but I held out. It is produced by Johnny Wonder. Since its release, it has gotten very good remarks thus far.
You are featured on the soca single “Badishh” with upcoming soca artiste, Nailah Blackman. The song and music video are vibes! Do you have any other collaborations lined up for Carnival 2018? If so, can you share any exclusive details with us?
‘Baddish’ was a major success in 2017. This upcoming carnival season is going to be epic! Numerous collabs with some of soca’s giants [that] will put my music career in a different gear. I’ll be in Trinidad throughout the Carnival season. I’ve released my new soca song ‘Play Di Soca’ on Jamette Riddim produced by Anson Pro from Trinidad and it’s been tearing up the airways so that a good start to the season so far.
By the end of 2018, what is the ONE THING Shenseea will be able to say she was able to do and make an impact on in her career?
I hope by the end of 2018, I will show Jamaica and the rest of the world that I’m not only a Dancehall Artiste, but I can do Reggae as well as because this year we will be really focusing on my Reggae EP. That [will be] something motivational and inspirational as well as real and true [collection of] songs.These songs are past experiences I’ve been through in my life and that people are currently going through. I also hope my music will be an inspiration to them as it was to me.