Shelly Ravid is a fascinating and talented singer from Falun in Sweden. She has a passion for reggae and ska and has recently been signed. Her voice and her energy on stage are just hypnotizing. She has been involved with Exhigone from the start, performing several times at different venues, following us along the way. We are so proud to welcome her back for Exhigone 6. We met for a chat and talk about her new song, her inspiration, and what she believes in and fights for. Here is our conversation.
Can you give us a bit of background about yourself? When did you arrive in London?
I was born in Sweden. I am half Israeli so I also lived in Israel for a while. I moved to London a year and a half ago to study at the school I am at now, Tech Music School. I just really needed a good reason to be in London and I thought if I get into a school, I could get my studies financed and at the same time I could be out gigging and get somewhere.
You’ve always seen London as the place to be for music?
I felt like the kind of music I want to do, there is absolutely no chance in Sweden. I don’t want to sing in Swedish and I don’t want to do Swedish music either, so I thought I need to get somewhere that is bigger, where there are more opportunities, way more people…
How did it all begin? How did you start singing?
I think I was 7 when I first remember it. I always wanted to be a singer. It was never a career choice or anything like that, I always wanted to sing. I was very shy when I was young and I don’t think I sang in front of a public until I was 15 or something. I loved music videos, I loved MTV, I loved everything that was American and about music, and when I found reggae I just felt like “this is what I want to do”.
How did you make it happen? I saw you had a band in Sweden..
I had so many small bands during the years but the first real band was when I was 15. We were just a couple of friends, we kind of all got together and create this ska reggae band. We did it for a year almost. It went really well. To be that young and to do reggae in the smallest town ever, it was always fun and people always showed up.
What happen after?
I always almost have some sort of band, some sort of project going on. I’ve always tried to put stuff on YouTube or be out gigging. My dream from a long time was to actually get into a school. It is somewhere to start, to get some connections and networks, so it all kind of led up to this point. I just did not think I would ever get into one but then I applied for it and got it so I was like “yes finally!”
And you got signed!
Yes, I am signed at Downtown Artists. It is more of a promotional contract. They sign you, then you record some songs and they promote you trying to spread some interest around the industry. I went for an audition, they did not call me back, I thought I messed up and then they called me back a few days later!
Why reggae? How did you fall into reggae?
I think what is interesting with our generation is that you can grow up in Sweden and grow up with reggae, because of the internet and because of Youtube. You don’t have to be in that culture and lived in that country to be truly inspired by it. So for me, it was just that, I was online looking for music. I was always into blues, soul and r’n’b and it kind of led me to reggae. I just grew up with it: listening online, being around people that listen to reggae and doing music with people that like reggae.
You write your own songs, how do you get your inspiration?
When I do music, usually, I go on YouTube and I find reggae instrumental rhythms, like they usually do in reggae. Someone produces a beat or a track and everybody can record on it. So that is what I did at the beginning when I did not have a band. Musically, I am very inspired by a band called Grundation, they are amazing! I am inspired by Tarrus Riley, Tania Stevens, Lauryn Hill as well. But lyrically, I am just inspired by what I am inspired by in general: political issues or social issues or whatever frustrates me at the moment.
Let’s talk about your last song Bullet in my chest..
This is a song I wrote about domestic violence. Usually when I write songs, they are a mixture of things I have experienced and things I haven’t experienced. I am just inspired by stories I’ve heard or I just make up a story. I wanted to talk about how it is so hard for women that are in these relationships to be taken seriously and to get the help they need. This story is about a women that is being abused and because she doesn’t get any help from the government, she decides to take law in her own hands and to make this guy’s life miserable, and finally kill him.
What does being creative mean to you?
It is the difference between being happy or not. If I don’t do music I become very depressed. It is the only thing I have. If you take that away from me I am just miserable. It means everything. It is the only thing I can think of doing and the only thing I want to do. I don’t even have a plan b.
What do you say to yourself just before going on stage?
Every time I try to remind myself why I am here and what I am doing. I try to go into this role of the artist. Whatever is going in the rest of my life, I just not think about it. I am focused on doing a great performance, giving the promoter and the venue value for getting me there. Also, I always think every time I never know who is in the audience, I never know who I am impressing and what chance I might be getting and who is going to be my fan and come to the next gig.
What is the thing you are the most proud of so far?
It must be the thing that just happened. I had a song released on the 1st of March, my first own song release. I am very proud of that because we started working on it almost a year ago with Downtown Artists. Now everything is done and it is out. It is so exciting to see how people react to it. It is a very personal song so I am really putting a statement in the first song I am doing.
What is next? Are you writing some new songs?
I have a band right now and we are pretty busy. We have a lot of gigs and we are rehearsing 4 hours a week, writing new material and try to gig as much as possible. And then I would have another song release in June.
Exciting! We can’t wait. Let’s talk about Exhigone. Can you tell us about your involvement in it and what you think about it?
I was coming with a friend of mine, Cathal, to the first Exhigone in Sheperds Bush. He was helping out, and we have been jamming for a bit, doing some covers on YouTube. I got the opportunity to sing and it was amazing. I thought the venue was really cool. It was so chilled and laid back. It was perfect for what you were doing, the vibe, and so many different people were there. I like that you guys mix art with music. And then you had this raffle thing where people were drawing and you had to put in a pound or something to win it, I thought it was amazing. It was so much fun and luckily you guys liked it so I could come back. It is the funniest gig I had here in London so far and I am super excited for the next one.
What song do you listen to when you want to be in a happy mood?
If I want to be happy and I am excited because I am going out I listen to ska. I love The Skatalites. I always mention one song that is Police Women. It is always gonna be the song. The future movie about my life, that song is going to be the intro! I love it, it is amazing music.
Can you tell us something we don’t know about yourself?
I don’t know if it is obvious or not but I am more comfortable on stage that any other time in my life. I think it is because when I go up, I kind of get into a role. The whole thing about people just focusing their attention on you makes me very comfortable and very confident. It is like my time to shine. I can do whatever I want. Nobody is interrupting, no one is talking back to me… Life is full of scary stuff but when I am up there I feel good.
Amazing! Thanks Shelly for taking the time to talk to us!
Go and listen to Shelly’s music on her YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/sravidmusic
And visit her Facebook page for news and updates on gigs: www.facebook.com/ShellyRavid
Here is her last song, Bullet in my chest