Shadez The Misfit is an enigmatic, well seasoned artist who possesses a cadence and a mindset that is sure to transcend the confinement’s of the UK – an attribute a lot of musicians strive for. Known for delivering both sonic and lyrical substance throughout his discography; he makes sure to let us know that his music is a product of true self-reflection and studying the greats who have paved the way before him such as; Andre3000, Kendrick Lamar and Kano.
Throughout this insightful and quite frankly refreshing conversation, we got to pick Shadez’s brain. As he imparts his knowledge and thoughts on musical purity. While diving into the introspective story behind his upcoming project and the wonders that come with adjusting your mindset.
Hey Shadez, could you please introduce yourself?
I go by the name of Shadez The Misfit, my real name is Tazar Sancho. But, most people know me as Shadez The Misfit, the weird, cool guy basically. How the name came about? Well it means ‘shadow in Gods light’. I chose it because I wanted to be that person that stands out. I use it as a reminder to stand out in life, in whatever I pursue and always add value.
What sparked your interest in becoming an artist initially?
I’ve always been into music but more from a fan perspective; as a kid growing up, I’d always try and create in the bathroom – I get all my best ideas in the bathroom.
But I wasn’t suppose to do music, I started off in fashion and in graphic design. During Uni I couldn’t keep a diary, so I began to use music as a way of conveying my thoughts and feelings. I used to document my day-to-day life. I was also inspired by Kid Cudi, Drake and Andre3000 at the time. Still to this day, I’m drawn in by the way they spoke about life, they talk about how you felt in ways you never knew it could be conveyed.
So yeah, I was just trying to pursue that. At the time I couldn’t afford studio, I performed at a show called ‘ILUVLIVE’. I did a song that I hadn’t released and everyone kept coming up to me like ‘where can I buy this song’; I won the whole thing, it was an open mic. From there, it gave me more confirmation to create music. So, coming from the grassroots and understanding different things like; performance, my voice and understanding who I was.
So you kind of hit the ground running because I saw that you won another competition for Channel 4 afterwards. How did that impact you?
So with the Channel 4 thing; you have to remember this was at a time when MySpace was popular, this was before the word influencer was used – this was 2010. The scene was dominated by the likes of Tinchy Stryder and Dappy. And out of 6,000 applicants I won and I got the opportunity to perform on live TV. It was a weird time, because again I didn’t know myself. So, I was offered deals and I turned them down, because I wanted to build a solid foundation. I didn’t want to be the next Tinchy Stryder essentially, and it’s been the best decision since.
Would you advise other artists to do the same label-wise?
In this day and age, artists have a lot of tools and accessibility in terms of getting the music out there. People react to it very quick, if they like, they like it. People can’t deny it. I always encourage people to build a foundation first, especially in a climate where it’s just singles, no ones creating bodies of work anymore. Focus on who you are, perfect your sound, it all contributes to your brand and the holistic part of yourself.
I was quite shocked to see that before your most recent release ‘2B3’ you hadn’t released since 2016. You’ve had quite a lengthy hiatus, why are you back now?
I believe in literally living life and taking time to build something. With me I’m not focused on constantly releasing, I care about creating an experience online and offline. When you buy something you’re not necessarily buying the product, you are buying the experience that comes along with the product. It’s the difference between why you’d buy an Apple product versus normal headphones, it’s all about the experience it gives you. That’s something I’ve learnt over time and that what I feel I owe to the people investing in me. Also, I just wanted to take the time to make a body-of-work that makes sense from top to bottom. But, has individual singles for people to enjoy, so ‘2B3’ is the perfect example of a single that on it’s own – represents a defining moment but in the grand scheme of things it intertwines so much the others.
That’s something I’ve been wanting to master since I was a kid, like Kano’s ‘Home Sweet Home’, Kendrick’s ‘good kid, m.A.A.d city’ and OutKast’s the ‘Love Below’. Albums like that, stand the test of time and you still fall in love with it them. Yeah, I think as an artist that should be the ultimate goal. But everyone, has their own agenda when creating.
It’s funny that you say that Kendrick and Andre3000 are big influences. Because, when I listened to your 2016 EP, ‘Ne Plus Ultra’ – I could tell almost immediately.
I think with music, you can either imitate or interpret. For me, when I see an image or hear a song I save it, then go back and try to understand what components made me feel emotion. Was it the melody, or the chords? Was it the aesthetics of a visual? Once you understand what that ‘thing’ is, you can interpret it and try to do it in your own way. Then it doesn’t come across as imitation. But, you have to pay homage to what inspired you.
Well, the EP is definitely timeless. I think if you were to release it now the response would be amazing. Where do you think you fit in the musical infrastructure?
That’s very a valid point, because that’s why I’ve been taking my time. It’s important to understand when to release, because ‘2B3’ was done in 2017.
Wow, really that’s very fitting for the climate!
Exactly, so imagine if I released it in 2017. It’s perfect for what’s happening now and for what it represents, it still holds it’s weight and it’s merit. I’ve only added more instrumentation to it, but the song was done. As an artist, I feel like I can be unapologetically British but still have a cadence that attracts a worldwide audience. It’s something I feel a lot of UK artists struggle with. People need to realise the world is bigger than your postcode, you need to think about music that can transcend your area but still represent it properly. So people ask themselves “where is he from?” and then do their own research about London. So they learn more about us beyond the tea, the crumpets and the prime minister.
Okay so let’s take it back to 2017, what inspired ‘2B3’?
It’s produced by Trey Hemingway and PALIMATH. What was great, was that they created a canvas that fit the narrative I wrote which was about turmoil, and the idea that we can no longer be victims. We need to celebrate, we need to be liberated and feel empowered. So it was perfect timing, because it was released during a time that was filled with so much information and so much trauma.
So the single will be apart of an upcoming project; which you said will be ‘sonically beyond’. What does that mean?
The mixtape that’s about to come out it called ‘South Side Raised Me Father God Changed Me’. Without giving too much away, it talks about a black boy navigating his way through an environment filled with hyper-masculinity, confinement while trying to understand yourself. It’s from a specific time, but it gives different perspectives. I wanted to also get to the bottom of what people think is ‘scary’, that these environments grow flowers through it’s concrete. Imagine the people who actually live in those places how do you think they feel? We romanticise anything that’s scary. For example, you’re in a zoo – your looking at the Lion like ‘oh my God, your beautiful but I’m afraid of you’, now imagine how it must feel for that Lion who’s caged in. It’s all about giving perspective.
So what do you think about the scene at the moment? Drill is really having it’s moment!
With drill, I think the only way it will truly be moved forward is if someone creates a body-of-work that tells a story from top to bottom. With layers to it but it’s still unapologetically drill. Adding instrumentation, lyrics that make it more than who got shanked who, what wing you were on, etc. I don’t think anyone currently has taken the time or has the intention to sit down and really understand themselves.
The life span of music nowadays isn’t very long anymore either and the success of the song is determined by it’s first week. It’s all about timing.
So during your Ted Talk, you spoke about your transition from the streets. Do you feel a responsibility to help rehabilitate or help others who are in the lifestyle to have the same enlightenment you did?
When your in the thick of it, you don’t understand the hold the lifestyle has over you. There’s a lot of kids with a street mentality, that want to pursue things that are so far from their reality; but because there’s not examples of people; who have left or are doing the same things they want to, so they can’t see themselves in that light. The point of the talk was basically to let them know ‘I’ve come from one of the craziest gangs, I’ve seen things I shouldn’t have.’
Let me give you a step by step guide, that you could apply to your own truth. Instead of what we usually see with the people who boast ‘I did this, I did that’ which becomes self-glorified. I didn’t want it to be that, I wanted to convey the fact that it’s all about the mindset.