Pop whizz Shamir has had one hell of a year - new album ‘Revelations’ sees him tackle life and mental health head-on.
"I just want to give people my soul," Shamir offers. It's been a long six months since the Philadelphia based musician shared his second album online, along with the announcement he was going to quit music for good, and a hell of a lot has changed. "'Hope' was just me at my wit's end," he reflects on album two. "I thought it was going to end my career, but at the very least I knew that I would go out with the last word, and give the world a piece of me before I move on to pasture."
Playing and recording the album himself in his room using an old four-track, ‘Hope' showcased Shamir at his most innately heartfelt. "What a lot of people don't realise is that 'Hope' was the beginning of a manic episode for me, which, in turn, turned into a psychotic episode," the musician states. "I ended up having to spend a week in a psych ward." Getting out of hospital to be "pretty much forcefully sent back home to Las Vegas," his musical career might've been one of the last things on his mind, but it was music that proved to be a saving grace.
"Music is my therapy," Shamir expresses. "It was just me writing out these feelings and about my life." Giving voice and form to the thoughts in his head, ‘Revelations' is a portrait of an artist at his most candid yet. "I'm definitely a person who can get more creative the less stuff that I have," he describes. "Coming to Vegas, I had to travel light. I just had my guitar. While I was out there I bought a bass and a drum sample, and that's literally about it, that's all I had."
Stripping creativity back to its basics, the result is a record that tears through any sense of circumstance to convey emotion and expression as it's most keenly felt. "I think people just really respond to heartfelt stuff that actually means something to artists, despite sound quality or my playing abilities," Shamir laughs. "I wasn't even trying to record an album when I got back to Vegas," he adds. "I had just got out of the hospital, that was the last thing I was thinking of."
Seeking catharsis in creativity reaped its own rewards, and the result of that creativity finds itself somewhere between "a personal transformation" and "a musical diary." "It feels like a journal that I'm sharing with the world," Shamir portrays. "It's called 'Revelations' because it revealed a lot of things about my life, my health, my mental health, and about the people around me," he continues. "When something so traumatic happens to you, it shows you a whole new worldview."
From start to finish, ‘Revelations' is an album that bears its heart on its sleeve, personal reflection – disillusioned though it can be – finding power in its own expression. "The record is so very personal," Shamir states. "Everything on the record is so very specifically personal." Voicing your innermost thoughts can be a daunting task, but it's also something that comes naturally to the musician. "It's actually very easy," he describes, "especially when the emotions are that overwhelming."
No holds barred, the record paints a picture of some of Shamir's darkest moments with a resounding sense of acceptance. Few manage this better than the album's emotive high-point ‘Astral Plane'. "That, for me, was specifically about the time that I spent in the emergency room after having my episode before I went to the psychiatric ward," he recalls. "They put me in a really, really, really dark room to calm me down. In that time, being super detached from reality, I thought that maybe I was dead, maybe I'd passed on."
Dark and intensely personal though that may seem, the song isn't without its sense of hope. "If you're going through hell, keep falling through," Shamir sings in the introduction, his voice a beacon of light and a sense of calm against the chaos. "That song is kind of just about me on the astral plane: if I was to go, what would I want to see to better the world?" he describes. "I'm only 22 years old. I felt like even if I was to go now, or soonish, there'd be a lot more positivity and positive things that I would continue to want to do, not necessarily for me personally, but also for the world."
With ‘Revelations' about to see release, that's exactly what Shamir intends to go out and achieve. "So much has happened, just in the last few months," he reflects. "From 'Hope', to being in hospital, to going back to Vegas for the summer, to being resigned, to releasing a second record in one year…" Album release and live shows ahead of him, it's onwards and upwards towards a future that's seeming brighter than ever – and it's a future the musician can't wait to share.
"Even though the record to me is very personal, it talks about specifically personal things that have happened to me, I think I try to write in a way that anyone else can personally relate to through something else that has happened to them," he expresses. "I just hope that people are able to relate to it, whether they can relate to the specific stories that I wrote it from or they can relate it to something that's happened to them."
Taken from the November issue of Dork, out now. Shamir's album 'Revelations' is out now.