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North Las Vegas' Shamir Talks About Life, Music

Shamir
Ruvan/Courtesy of the artist
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Shamir's dance music has gospel, country, and disco influences, but it's his androgynous voice that surprises most people.

The musician Shamir is getting a lot of attention.

His debut album "Ratchet" was critically acclaimed.

And NPR has championed his music, having him perform at one of All Songs Considered's  Tiny Desk Concerts.

The North Las Vegas native is another example of southern Nevada's burgeoning music scene, and we thought we would talk to him about growing up here, and how the city influences his music.

Ten things you probably didn't know about Shamir:

1. He plays and enjoys country music, specifically classic country music from the likes of Patsy Cline and George Jones. 

“When I listen to music I try to find the core ... strip everything down. The genre. The instruments. The musical style and I just like to take the core of the music.” 

2. North Las Vegas inspired his music because he feels there is not much for young people to do in the city, and there is not much of a musical community.

“Because it’s not a hot bed for music, it kind of gave me the space to experiment and do me because there weren’t too many other people doing what I was doing,” he said

3. He still calls North Las Vegas home.

"Usually, when I have free time I’m chilling in North Las Vegas," he said.

4. He hadn't planned on being a rising star in pop music but was just making songs during a break from his punk band. He sent those songs to a small record label in New York City and everything exploded from there.

“I did nothing," Shamir said. "I didn’t think anything of it. I just woke up one day and my song is not only on Pitchfork but was one of the best new tracks.”

5. He is influenced by country, pop, punk, rock 'n' roll and hip-hop, but he doesn't want to be known for one kind of sound.

“I definitely knew from the beginning, especially as a solo artist, just knowing who I am as a person, that I didn’t want to be pigeonholed by a specific genre or sound,” he explained.

6. He lost his voice for nearly a week when he tried to sing in a lower register.

“That’s when I realized that if I want to sing, I kind of have to do it my way and not really rely on anyone else,” he said.

7. He doesn't see his gender identity as a choice but just how his life has always been. 

“I’ve always been 50/50 has how people see me," Shamir said. "It was never really a choice.”

8. He was nominated for prom king and thinks he would have won ... but instead of attending prom, he went to a concert with friends.

9. He likes to balance the upbeat nature of his music with the darker tone of his lyrics.

"If my lyrics are bummed out, I don’t see why the music has to be too," he said.

10. He'll turn 21 during his three month tour starting in a few months.

Shamir, artist 

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Casey Morell is the coordinating producer of Nevada Public Radio's flagship broadcast State of Nevada and one of the station's midday newscast announcers. (He's also been interviewed by Jimmy Fallon, whatever that's worth.)