“Just a regular queer female out here trying to make some loud noise.” -Shaili Champ
By Shafniya Kanagaratnam
Growing up in the Jane and Finch community, Shaili Champ is a GTA based independent hip-hop artist and activist. She wants to create music on topics that are underrepresented in mainstream media and create change. Currently out with Shaili’s most recent two tracks are, “Basmathi”, with over 7,500 streams on Spotify, and her latest release, “Call in Sick”.
“”Nobody sees model minorities speak out.”
“Basmathi” is all about Shaili reclaiming her culture based from both her and her mother’s immigrant experience. “As model minorities, we are always expected to shut up and do our work”, Shaili says and she wants “Basmathi” to act as a voice for people of colour who have experienced similar experiences, encouraging them to be vocal about it. Lyrics aside, “Basmathi”’s production is a blend of Indian and Trap beats, with heavy use of the sitar and bansuri.
“ I learned English obviously through school, but also a lot through music.”
Shaili Champ immigrated to Canada as a child, with no knowledge of English. She listened to Hip-Hop, Rap and and R&B to learn English, and recalled being able to recite Eminem songs in the 1st grade. Growing up as a person of colour in Canada, she said described balancing her Indian heritage and her Canadian identity as a never-ending, evolving act. She explained that it was difficult, initially partially due to the conservational nature of Gujarati people and being raised by extremely strict parents. Over time, her parents have become less strict and her family members around her have mostly come to terms with her career in music. She said that there is beauty in the balancing act from her own experiences, and for other ethnic minority youths in Canada, describing it as a way you “learn to position yourself in a way we can succeed in both cultures.”
“There are so many obstacles, it literally feels like everything is feels like it’s against you.”
Shaili Champ built her music career from the ground up, stating: “I had no musical education, I had no music background, I had no musical support.” She is now at a point in her career where she can easily point out the barriers that she faces in the music industry, such as being sexualized and stereotyped. Around 39% of female singers and songwriters in the industry lists being sexualized and stereotyped as the barrier they face breaking into the industry. Her first experience being sexualized was when a music teacher confessed to her that he was in love with her, and now sometimes she comes across situations where people accept her invitations to collaborate creatively with other intentions in mind. She combats that by collaborating with queer, female, South Asian creatives and other South Asian creatives, and vocally speaks out against those experiences.
As for future plans, she has already envisioned the music videos for “Basmathi” and “Call in Sick”, but mentioned that because she’s an independent artist, it requires her to cover both the finances and logistics for every move on her career. Shaili is currently looking into ways to fund these production costs.
As for future music releases, she is leaning towards a mixtape right now, but is waiting until the time is right. The main thing being that she has a large collection of tracks, but does not want to release all of them because the core value of her artistry is to make music that has a deeper value.
Check out Shaili’s SoundCloud page here.