West African singer and songwriter Shirazee releases his compelling new video for “Different,” his debut single on Island Records/Lokal Legend. The video was shot in 13 different countries, all significant to Shirazee and his story, completely on an iPhone 6s. Drawn to his song’s message and the creative visual concept, Apple Music premiered the video last week with a global exclusive. Now, it is available across multiple platforms
“This video feels like the purest way for me to tell a very important part of my story, as far as including all the countries I've lived in, and that helped mold me into the person and artist I am today,” Shirazee says. “Using a smartphone just felt the most obvious choice when the idea of shooting in 13 countries was born. Beyond practical reasons, today I feel like we have so much power in our hands via our phones that we are overlooking. This video will hopefully empower everyone with a phone to go out and execute any idea that comes to mind just ’cause they've seen this done.”
The video for “Different” was a year in the making from its conception to its execution. “Many challenges and obstacles made it seem at times an impossible task,” Shirazee recalls, “but staying the course paid off in the end. I enjoyed the process because it meant revisiting parts of my life that were starting to feel distant, creatively, and some destinations were almost therapeutic. I truly hope everyone enjoys it as much as I did making it.”
Over the past few years, Shirazee has built an impressive catalog as a songwriter, pen¬ning songs for fellow Island/Lokal Legend artist Kiesza, and the likes of Sting, Ty Dolla $ign, and many others. By late 2014 though, restlessness had started stirring inside. “I felt like I was hearing the same thing in music over and over again. I was frustrated, wondering if our generation wouldn’t be remembered for real music. The vibe is so important to protect. I wanted to push the envelope. I wanted to make sure I had my own voice. I wanted to take people on a journey.”
That journey is certainly unique in all of pop. Born Paolo Shirazee Prudencio, he was raised in Benin, West Africa, where his mother filled their home with the sounds of the Eagles, Michael Jackson, Otis Redding, Bob Marley, the true icons. All were conspicuously heard on singles, since albums were a rarity. Without realizing it, Shirazee was building a “new per¬spective” on pop. “My mind functioned in terms of radio-style melodies. The pockets I choose are distinctively melodic. That’s what this period did to me. Really, it made me the artist I am today.”
From Benin, he traveled to Ghana for high school (where a passion for hip-hop led him to discover OutKast), then to the UK for a brief college stint, then South Africa before heading to Paris. The journey continued in Atlanta where he recalls, “making connections by freestyling outside of Guitar Center.” He set his sights on the Big Apple, and within eight months, had signed his first publishing deal.
“Once ‘Different’ was born,” Shirazee says, “the spark to follow this true artistic path was instantly re-ignited. I couldn’t give it to another artist; it was mine. Everybody wants something different. It’s the song that put me on this path.”