SHAMROK, 24, and I met up at Pulse Cafe, a plant-based restaurant located in Hadley, Massachusetts. Once we walked in, SHAMROK spotted their grand piano and immediately started playing. Disregarding the “Staff Only” sign on it, he began to play a mellow jazz tune immediately gaining the attention of others. Some of the staff politely asked if they could record him play, he kindly approved and continued on. SHAMROK is an R&B/Hip-Hop Artist from Springfield, Massachusetts. He’s been active in his career for two years now. It was clear to me that he is a skilled musician, it came time for me to get to know him musically over our meals.
Whats your ethnic background?
Jamaican and Chinese, mainly more Jamaican; My mom and dad are both Jamaican, but on my moms side, she has some Chinese.
You have songs like “Love Ting” and “Look For” which have a reggae influence. Do you listen to reggae heavily?
Actually nah, I don’t. I was always around that type of music regardless. You know what I’m sayin? I don’t listen to it, my next door neighbor blasts freaking reggae every day.
Why do you sound so irritated? [laughing]
Yo, if you only knew. You know what I’m saying? Nigga has a huge speaker and let’s the whole neighborhood know that he’s here. He’ll keep going ’til like three o’clock in the morning, Especially in the summer time!
Jamaicans know how to party!
Yeah they do. Plus my father, he had a couple reggae records like Bob Marley and shit like that.
How do you feel about artist with no island background, making reggae songs?
If you want to say that, sure.
He’s the one dominating that whole feel there.
Do you feel like he’s being a culture vulture?
Yeah definitely, but I see why he’s doing [it] because around his area, there’s a whole heavy Jamaican influence in Canada. You know what I’m saying? Like, Not only does he do it, but the whole, you know, community…
In Toronto, in Canada in general. Even in England, ’cause that’s where Jamaican language came from. It’s broken English.
…Ok history…Do you feel like its a problem that he’s being a culture vulture?
It’s a marketing scheme, he’s staying relevant. It’s a great way to stay relevant because with a name like his, he’s gaining more traction and he’s getting more buzz. People know him, people [are] gonna keep knowing him more and more. He’s always gonna be relevant. You know what I’m saying? It’s a smart tactic.
When did you realize that you could really sing?
I never…I don’t even feel like I could sing.
I feel like there’s a difference, it’s rather you sound nice or you could sing.
I honestly feel like I’m in that bracket of sounding nice.
That’s good that you’re honest, people don’t really admit that.
Yeah, but people always be like “yeah, you could sing”. I be like “yeah, I feel you”, I’m trying to be a singer, you know what I’m saying?
You know you can teach yourself to sing, right?
Yeah, it just takes patience and shit like that, but I’d rather get a vocal trainer, then I’ll say like “yeah, I actually do sing”. I don’t know, I don’t consider myself a singer like that.
When did you start “singing”? Making these melodic tunes?
My start was Mali Music, so when I heard Mali Music I tried to copy everything that he was doing, as far as the riffs. When I kept doing that more, I realized I was starting to catch on. When I started catching on, I tried to like experiment with different shit and it just ended up alternating to the music the I make.
Have you always been a musical person?
Hell yeah! Yo, I could tell you this now, I remember being inside a gray Maxima, it was my father’s first car…I don’t remember…I just know I was like three years old and I heard a jazz tune on that shit. I remember that jazz tune, I remember the melody it is-
In his car you said?
Yeah, in the car– He was just playing that shit. I could hear that in my head right now, since I was like three years old. I didn’t realize it until after I grew up. Then I realized like “Oh, that’s jazz music”. I really am influenced by jazz music, it came natural.
Do you find inspiration from your roots and put it into your songs? You said Jazz, you hear reggae everywhere…
I guess yeah, I try to put those elements into my music.
Your favorite male r&b singer?
I have favorites.
Okay, who are they?
John Legend, Mali Music– I started listening to him first…well not really, but like he’s the reason I started singing– D’Angelo, and BJ the Chicago Kid.
Your favorite female r&b singer?
Jasmine Sullivan, first person that came to mind.
How do you feel about being compared to PartyNextDoor?
Oh Jesus, that question really came up huh?
I mean, I take it how it is, you’re gonna be compared to somebody. Everyones gonna compare you to somebody thats relevant. “Oh you sound like this nigga, this nigga” you know what I’m saying? Its just gonna take time for me to like actually be more relevant for me to have my own sound to the point where people [are] gonna tell the next artist “Oh you sound just like SHAMROK”, you know what its saying? So, thats how that works, but either way… yeah, I get compared to Partynextdoor, Bryson Tiller, Tory Lanez, all them niggas. You know what I’m saying?
Do your write your own songs?
An artist you would write for?
Chris brown, I feel like he will execute it. He would probably execute it [in] a dope way, cause he could actually sing. When he sings my song I’m pretty sure he’s gonna kill that shit.
A lot of your songs are pretty romantic, do you always have someone in mind when writing?
Yeah, I definitely do. It’s always a certain situation or somebody else’s situation.
Have you ever made a song specifically for anyone?
Yeah, plenty of times.
Uh-huh, That’s why I said the whole song writer thing for CB cause he could actually sing.
An artist you would feature with? No questions asked
You would feature with Young Thug? Interesting.
I know it’s interesting but that nigga…he’s dope with melodies and shit.
The shit he be coming up with like, I don’t know…he has some dope melodies… his melodies are really fire. How he comes up with his flows and shit like that.
And it’s different.
I can’t say different but its dope–
Everybody’s doing it, it’s just his approach to it is dope. I fuck with his approach and he do be doing some weird different shit, but overall it’s still dope.
Are there new projects you’re coming out with?
Valentine’s day project that I’m coming out with.
Can you share the title?
Thats something that I’m still coming up with.
So this is to set the mood out there, get your tinder dates ready—
Have a lot of sex, have a lot of humping going on!
…Alright [both laugh] we appreciate that because everybody loves a baby-making song. Would you ever consider working with new sounds?
Yeah, my main purpose of the shit I’m doing now is to kind of introduce the shit that I want to do. The shit I’m doing, I like it too, but I’m like more jazz influenced, I want to have a live band.
You have performed countless times. What is your most favorite thing about performing?
Getting a reaction from the crowd, like getting everybody jumping and shit. When I could feed off the energy that’s the dopest thing cause like “Oh, they actually fuck with this shit”. They’re actually moving their body from my music, that’s the best thing about performing.
What’s your least favorite thing about performing?
Probably when I can’t hear myself.
So, technical difficulties?
Yeah, technical difficulties.
Do you have a ritual before recording?
No, I just go at it as soon as I hear it.
So, you basically freestyle?
Yeah, I freestyle everything. Sometimes I do a gibberish version of the actual track, I just go in, say a bunch of gibberish and then come up with my flows, and then put the words together after that.
Do you have a ritual before performing ?
I just drink mad liquor before I perform.
Yeah, ’cause it’s like at that point I don’t care about shit. You know what I’m saying? I’m just gonna hop everywhere. I don’t care about—
You don’t get sick on stage?
Nah, but I just recently stopped doing that because obviously it’s not good to drink [laughs] before you perform.
[laughs] So you got sick one time?
I never got sick…ever. I never threw up drinking liquor, ever.
Alright steel liver!
If you could win a music award for anything, what category/categories would you conquer?
I see myself winning “Best Song of the Year”.
You’re also apart of a band?
How long have you been apart of Molado?
Five years… probably longer than that, but I don’t remember. I’m the piano player.
How is it balancing the band and your own solo thing?
It’s not hard, I just know how to play my part. When it comes down to the band I’m playing piano and doing what I can to kinda make the band sound better. When I’m being an artist, I’m just being an artist.
What was your parents’ reaction to you becoming an artist? Did your parents approve?
Yeah, my mom—that actually shocked me—my mom actually likes some of my songs.
My father doesn’t care like that, I never actually heard him say anything about my music. Ever.
Is that a good or bad thing?
I don’t care, me and my father don’t really– you know.
What’s your go to karaoke song?
What the hell, I don’t do no damn karaoke!
You don’t like karaoke?
No, what he fuck! You be doing karaoke?
You know…when it’s time to go out, if it’s a karaoke night. It’s fun!
You really do that?!
Okay, you go out for karaoke and you can come back and tell me how it went, alright?