Singer/songwriters Simone Stacey and Naomi Wenitong are the latest breed of talent to emerge on the local music scene. The faces and voices behind SHAKAYA, these young ladies are a mixture of talent, fun and enthusiasm and possess a wisdom for their craft beyond their years.
The Ed's from GIRL caught up with Simone and Naomi to talk about their musical journey so far.
GIRL: Does the name SHAKAYA mean anything to you and where did it come from?
We were originally going to be called 'Kashaya' but then our manager mixed the letters around and it became 'Shakaya'. Naomi and myself then did a bit of research and discovered that the word "shakaya" has a broad range of meanings in a lot of different cultures. One that really stood out for us was the native Indian meaning of "voices in the wind".GIRL: You both met at the same music course you were studying three years ago, what was it initially that attracted you girls to working with each other?
We met at the Atsic Music College three years ago and we'd both been writing individually before we met each other. As soon as we met we decided to write a song together and we haven't stopped since.GIRL: You spent 12 months working with musician and producer Reno Nicastro, how instrumental has he been in helping your music career?
He has been really good, he has done a lot of the music production on our songs. He also gave us free studio time for two years that we were writing and recording material. He has been like a father, a brother and a best friend rolled into one. Reno's been there from the beginning and believed in us.GIRL: Your debut single is titled "Stop Calling Me" and is basically about a stalking situation. Is this based on a real-life experience either of you has had?
Yeah well the both of us have had boyfriends in the past and the song is just basically talking about these boyfriends who keep calling after the relationship is over. But also the song is based on experiences that both our male and female friends have had. The song is not like big women's power trip or anything like that! (laughs)GIRL: "Stop Calling Me" is an R&B track - is this the style of music you are going to continue to make?
Yeah I mean we have been influenced by a lot of different styles but we are just trying to lean towards a more R&B sound, trying to bring out a new sound and mix everything together.GIRL: What has been the reaction to your single so far?
The reaction has been unbelievable, we are really excited about how everything is going so far. We didn't really expect it to go as far as it has so we've been overwhelmed with the positive reception from people of all ages.GIRL: "Stop Calling Me" first got played on a Cairns radio station when it was still in demo mode. What did it feel like when you heard your first song being played on radio? Was it a surreal moment?
Oh yeah. We were in the studio at the time working on our music when our manager came over to us and said, "girls come here, I have a surprise for you". The surprise was our song playing on the radio, and that was really weird. The feeling was indescribable but it was very exciting. And even now when we hear it on the radio, it still feels weird.GIRL: What has been the reaction from family and friends to your newfound fame?
Oh they are just so excited because they have watched us work towards this for so long and they are very supportive and help us with everything. It's really cool!GIRL: Do you remember where you were or what you were doing when you received news that you had been signed?
We were in Sydney, last year in August and that morning we were nervous because we had a showcase lined up at Sony Music. It was a small, intimate room where we had to perform and we were as nervous as hell! But we went in there and performed four songs. At the end of it, we walked out of the room and within five minutes they came back and said, "yeah you're signed". We thought WOW! (laughs)GIRL: Who was the first person you told the good news to?
We called our parents straight away!GIRL: Was there a lot of screaming going on?
Yeah they were screaming, we were screaming, it was amazing - we were jumping up and down and skipping down the road! (laughs)GIRL: Have you finished recording your album or are you still in the process of recording?
We've actually recorded enough material for probably two albums because all we've been doing in the past two years is writing and recording in the studio. It's just a matter of sorting through them now and deciding which songs are suitable for the album.GIRL: Has your single been released overseas yet?
No it hasn't. We're actually releasing in New Zealand on the 3rd of March, so we'll see what happens after that.GIRL: Is it important to you to sing about songs that you can both identify with?
Yes it is, from the beginning we both felt strongly about our songwriting and to be able to express ourselves through our songs. It is also a form of therapy for us to get it down on paper and create these thoughts into a song. So we are thankful for the opportunity to share it with everyone else.GIRL: Which artist/producer would you like to work with if you were given the opportunity?
I'd love to work with so many people! (laughs) I'd like to work with Selwyn, just because he's new and he's doing his own thing. But outside Australia, I'd like to work with Jagged Edge, Janet Jackson and Jermaine Dupri, as a producer. Even a lot of the people we went to music school with I mean there's so much talent in Australia, so I'd love to work with a lot of different people.GIRL: Which aspect of being a music artist do you enjoy the most?
Well definitely all the pampering, you know, the hair and makeup! (laughs) But performing for me and the vibe you get on stage is just unbelievable! Especially performing your own songs.
** We put the girls through their paces in our infamous 60 Second Quiz! **GIRL'S 60 SECOND QUIZ
Full Name: Naomi Sky WenitongStar Sign:
Rush Hour IIFave Actor:
Chris RokFave Animal:
LizardDescribe yourself in 3 words:
Friendly, Caring & GivingBest Feature:
ThighsPerson You Would Most Like To Meet:
Horse riding, makeupFirst Job:
Working at a coffee shopA Talent You Wish You Had:
I really wish I could paintThe Best Advice Given To You:
Don't worry about what anyone says, just do what you want to do.What Can You Never Leave Home Without:
Lipgloss and my phoneIf you were a cartoon character, which one would you be?
Tweety-birdIf you were told you had a minute to live, what would you do?
Call everyone I know and try to have the world's quickest party.GIRL'S 60 SECOND QUIZ
Full Name: Simone Angela StaceyStar Sign:
Save The Last DanceFave Actor:
Will SmithFave Animal:
PoodleDescribe yourself in 3 words:
Friendly, Bubbly & EmotionalBest Feature:
My bumPerson You Would Most Like To Meet:
Swimming, going to the beachFirst Job:
A Deli GirlA Talent You Wish You Had:
Drawing & DesignThe Best Advice Given To You:
To put my 100 per cent best into everything I want to achieve in life.What Can You Never Leave Home Without:
EyelinerIf you were a cartoon character, which one would you be?
Betty BooIf you were told you had a minute to live, what would you do?
I'd probably pray really hard.Visit Shakaya at http://www.shakaya.com- Annemarie Failla & Michelle Palmer