SH3 (pronounced ‘she’) is a rising star in the city’s vibrant R&B and Hip Hop scene. Her training as a pianist and guitarist honed her understanding of songwriting and production. This set the stage for her career as a singer-songwriter with an online debut as SH3. She shifts between genres effortlessly and draws her inspiration from the musical spectrum, from pop to folk to R&B.
Upon graduating with a bachelor’s in fine arts music, she began to write for the Canadian capitals Hip Hop stars, including those affiliated with Drake’s OVO Sound House. SH3 now works with artists, dabbling in the writing and recording process, or even lending her voice to creations.
Recently, to bring the audience into her vibrant world, she released brand new music including the ambient-driven chill track, Arrow.
Tell me about you and your career?
I’m a singer and songwriter but sometimes it’s difficult to compartmentalize what I do. First and foremost, I’m a songwriter because it’s what I can do on command in pretty much any situation. It’s hard to choose one over the other though, because they really go hand in hand.
What I do with my voice affects my writing and how I write interchangeably affects how I sing. Ever since I was young I aimed to be a songwriter, but it wasn’t until later on that I took my own singing just as seriously. I even studied jazz voice in university.
I’m also a producer and entrepreneur. I created my own music business. The difference now is that as artists we can do much more on our own without a big business behind us.
Did you always know you were going to pursue singing as a career?
I’ve had this connection to being a singer from a very young age – as cliche as that sounds! The Spice Girls had a massive part in that. They put girl-power front and center. That was so attractive to me. Since then, becoming a singer and songwriter has been my dream.
I voiced that to my supportive parents, but they’re also realists – in a loving way! In high school, I started to get more serious about this career, and that’s when it got real for them too. High school is also when I wrote some of my best music, and my mentors and teachers had a lot to do with that.
David Occhipinti was my guitar teacher who taught me how to play with alternate tunings. Romina Di Gasbarro was my vocal teacher – she changed my life!
When did your entrepreneurial streak kick in?
In grade 10, I wanted to record a song I wrote and one of my school teachers gave me a recommendation for an audio engineer. Long story short I was faced with a hefty bill I didn’t feel was appropriate for what we had created and this situation inspired me to learn how to engineer on my own. I told myself I did not want to be in that position again and knew I had the ability to learn these skills.
That very summer, I got myself a digital audio workstation, an interface, microphone – the whole recording setup. At age 15, to be able to record the stuff I was creating independently was a massive deal for me.
It’s been a lesson – be as resourceful as you can be. If you don’t know how to do something, you can always pay someone to do it for you – but they won’t do it with the same vision, passion, and thought as you.
Tell us about SH3
SH3 stands for Sound Healing. Listening to rich harmonies and choirs calms me. The same applies to taking part in improvisation. This is something I tapped into during my undergrad and wanted to explore further in my master’s degree studying Music Therapy.
I released two music videos last year. Stranger Things is based on a TV show of the same name which I love! There’s that iconic 80s vibe flowing through it and some of the outfits pay homage to the series. There’s also Gelato which we shot in Miami and has a fun summer vibe. We even rented an ice-cream truck and filled it with cool lighting!
My latest release, Arrow is my most vulnerable song yet and means a lot to me since I wrote and produced the song entirely on my own. I went back to my roots with this song, as you truly hear all of me in this track – from the sound choices, rhythms, lyrics, all of it.
The song uses the narrative of being hit by Cupid’s bow and falling in love as a backdrop to talk about personal anxieties. I want to continue doing what I’m doing and elevate it. I want to get better at marketing – reaching out to different sorts of audiences and scouting out people who can connect to what I do.
Why do you love making music?
I think music is a portal into the subconscious. I love improvising when I make music because it’s a great way to gain insight into myself without using verbal communication. I trained in contemporary improvisation, so when the music flows through me, my subconscious is making itself heard.
Sometimes we take music’s healing quality for granted. Music is known to uplift spirits, bring people together, but can even be part of a person’s therapy regimen such as correcting speech impediments – it’s wild!
Are you quite connected to your fans?
I answer every direct message or comment I get (that’s not spam). If someone reaches out and it’s a real person and not a bot, I do my best to respond to them. Amongst those fans, I have a ‘hey, it’s been a while, what’s up?’ kind of relationship. I like it that way!
Can you share a couple of lessons you have learned along the way?
First off, especially to the younger people reading this – figure out what you want for yourself and go for it. You need to set your values and goals because people are going to try and pull you in a hundred different directions.
I’ve learned not to get too affected by the numbers in marketing and analytics. I asked myself: Is it the attention I want? Is this why I am making music? and it’s not!
When I write, it’s because I feel compelled to at my core and grateful to create a song or a piece of music that becomes a tangible representation of some part of me.
You also need to follow your instincts. There are always people around you with answers and opinions, but no one knows you better than you and the little voice inside your head that’s looking out for you. Keep listening to it and make sure you’re not led down paths that don’t feel right to you.
What are some of your biggest challenges at the moment?
It’s a long laundry list, honestly. The toughest thing is keeping the faith that things can and will come together. I can get lost in the small, every day wins or the odd bad day where I get quite distracted and discouraged. I want to build something long-lasting, even for a small audience.
It’s wild how making music can help shed light on your emotional wellbeing and things you might be repressing, especially if it’s difficult to verbalize. I think music can bypass our consciousness and be a gateway to the subconscious, allowing us to explore ourselves in a very profound way. Music really can heal.SH3, Singer and Songwriter