We had the opportunity to meet another homegrown talent – Shebani. Dubai’s rising star keeps the local R&B scene steadily pulsating with her smooth & soulful sound.
Shebani started off as an acoustic artist, performing at various local open-mic nights and dwelling Dubai as another blue-denim-jacket Indie girl for years until she sat with producer Rayan Bailouni - this was when the revolution began.
Through the guidance and vision of Bailouni, the swift unraveling of Shebani’s ability to sing over electronic beats began to take shape as she created catchy hooks quite seamlessly. The pair had struck gold and after working a few double shifts in the studio, we now have in our possession music that's purely local and purely R&B. This uncompromising authenticity and self-discovery hinted a perfect title for her debut project – Alter Ego.
Shebani talks us through today’s R&B scene and shares her journey as a performing artist as well as the making of her debut EP.
What’s your take on the evolution of R&B and your thoughts on it as a genre right now?
R&B is considered to be one of the most influential and popular sounds in today's music. Many artists are bringing back old school R&B vibes and if anything, the most exciting part for me is studying how they add their own twists to it. Surprisingly though, I do feel that many artists remain extremely authentic to old R&B elements. So it could be a combination of both to be honest, depending on who you're listening to.
Who’s carrying the flag at the moment in R&B?
You can't settle for just one. I have a little more than a handful of artists whom I listen to on a regular basis that satisfy nostalgic R&B sounds many of us long for. Off of the top of my head, Kehlani, H.E.R, DVSN, etc. These artists take you way back and it's extremely refreshing to see that it's been incorporated in today's music.
Name an underrepresented R&B singer that we should look out for.
One of my favorite artists, H.E.R. Stands for Having Everything Revealed, and she's releasing music while remaining anonymous. I think definitely worth looking into, her work is somewhat a constant reminder why we continue to do music.
There is this underlying underground feel to your style, tell us how it is working with Rayan.
Working with Rayan has taught me to be open to experimental approaches. R&B is very popular today and as an artist, you don't want to be doing the same thing everyone else is. Fusions of different sounds, and bringing in elements that are slightly strange to R&B helps create sub-genres that fall under R&B.
What was it like performing in London?
That's certainly one of the best challenges that Ive experienced. Music scenes and music industries outside our region are a lot more intense and real. It toughens you up and it gives you a stronger sense of responsibility towards your passion and your craft. Expanding your knowledge this way changes how you see the path you're on, it changes from being a hobby to treating it as a career.
Having leveled up as a performer, tell us why an artist should never underestimate themselves?
If an artist is dedicated, consistent and determined with music, there's no way they could remain stagnant. No artist with a voice and a message should ever underestimate what they can offer the world, it takes a lot of hard work and a lot of creativity to improve yourself as an artist, but it all pays off eventually.
How do you think UAE as a platform is serving musicians wanting to go pro?
There's no denying the fact that the music scene is not what it was five years ago, there's a wave of new talent that the region has never seen before. If we're speaking about our music communities, it's incredible to see so many emerging artists taking music seriously, it no longer seems to be a hobby, but an actual career path. It's inspiring for others and it opens doors for us to grow even further. However, the city is still in the process of growing towards that direction. We need more platforms for artists to perform, more events for us to connect with audiences and maybe even incorporate music into our educational system. One thing I learned from my time in London, is that music is taken seriously as a career just as much as any other field, there are so many opportunities for aspiring artists to study music and be surrounded by it on a day to day basis. That makes a huge difference.
What can we expect from Shebani moving forward.
I'm open to experimenting with music, but I do feel like my upcoming releases will have a more mature and an outspoken approach. I'm also looking into different topics and emotions that are not addressed on Alter Ego and I can't wait to share it with everybody!
For further info follow the artist on Facebook and Instagram @shebanimusic
About the Writer
Faariss Khalil is a British musician who currently lives in Dubai. As a former turntablist from Bristol his experience of growing up in a thriving music scene has fuelled his passion to uncover new music in the UAE. When he is not out there discovering talent Faariss enjoys listening to Dubstep, Trip Hop, Indie and Rock