It seems like every day I encounter something coming out of Montreal that convinces me it's the Canadian city least unburdened by convention. One of the artists that's emerged from this discovery process has been Shay Lia, the Djibouti-via-Montreal singer, best known for her playful mossy vocals on "Leave Me Alone," from Kaytranada's 2016 album 99.9%.
"I immediately felt comfortable in Montreal," she told The FADER over email. "For a lot of people, this city is a place of transition and they make it quite easy for everyone to adapt and do what they love." For her solo debut, Shay Lia reached out to Kay again, who brought in Toronto friends and regular collaborators BADBADNOTGOOD; together they crafted "Blue." The track has the raw and sultry feel of a live session, right down to Shay Lia's wavering, golden vocals, which illuminate the emotional tension in the melody's unique chord progression.
"The first time I heard the demo, I cried," Shay Lia said. "There’s this mix of excitement and stress: Will I find a good melody? If I can't then there’s no song! So I tried something, then something else, and eventually cracked it. It's really the best feeling when I know I have found the right melody. I'd like to thank my producers. There are loads of talented people in the urban genre and even more so on Montreal's beat-making scene, but when it comes to 'being out there’, I think we lack the proper infrastructures and don’t really have an ecosystem that can sustain the artists (media, labels, fundings etc.) It’s like some of us feel the need to venture out to Toronto or the U.S. to actually make it, which then proves to be even more challenging."