The charismatic singer, songwriter and guitarist Shamir has had a busy 2020 despite the circumstances. In March, as the COVID-19 pandemic tore through America, the 25-year-old released the distorted rock album "Cataclysm." He followed that up with a series of singles - "On My Own" to celebrate Pride Month in June, the exuberant synth-rock anthem "Running" and the just-issued, twang-driven banger "Other Side." All are featured on his forthcoming eponymous record, his seventh overall, due out Oct. 2. The artist, born Shamir Bailey, spoke from his home in Philadelphia.
Q: Describe your album in three words.
A: Coming of age.
Q: Why should we stream it?
A: I don't know - because it's good? And I would say that if you've never listened to any of my stuff before - or if you only listen to this record and nothing else - I think I would be fine with that because this is the first record where I had confidence and everything was intentional. Everything came out truly as I envisioned it.
Q: How did COVID-19 change it?
A: It's definitely a COVID record. I was really fortunate, because (Philadelphia recording space) Headroom is a really big studio with a vocal booth and a live room. That really helped out a lot because the studio that I normally go to in South Philly is a very small basement studio. I wouldn't have known what to do if I was recording there.
Q: What were you listening to for inspiration?
A: When I'm recording I don't listen to too much music, except the references I send for each track. "Other Side" has a country vibe, so one of the references for that song - and it doesn't even sound like it, structurally, but I like really rough vocal procession - was "Ugly (Lights)" by Miranda Lambert.
For "Running," I wanted to have a very early-2000s alternative punk-type feel, so we referenced Gwen Stefani. Even Kelly Clarkson - "Since You've Been Gone." If I told you everything we were listening to in the studio for influences, it would sound so discombobulated.