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Shamz Le Roc
Photography by Seye Isikalu

Shamz Le Roc gets real on her debut EP

On the brooding Incipio, Kele Le Roc’s younger sister comes into her own, riffing on East London bus routes and Panda Pop

East London-based Shamz Le Roc (younger sister of late-90s R&B/pop singer and Dazed cover star Kele) released her first track "Lazy Days" back when MySpace was at its height some six years ago. The Anglo-Caribbean artist has since honed her style with Baishe Kings’ Herda Vim, collabed with Hudson Mohawke and put out a steady stream of tracks that show that her rich, brooding vocals have come into their own. Singing about bus routes, Panda Pop, Five Alive and E45, her writing deals with the everyday as much as it does with feelings of love and loss. Stream her debut EP Incipio below (or download it for free here) and read on as she talks Sunday family rituals and SMTV Live.

What kind of music did you grow up with?

Shamz Le Roc: My parents are from Jamaica but I’ve always lived in East London. I’d say Jamaican music is definitely a big influence on my work. Every Sunday for as long as I can remember mum got control of the music – probably because we had all the other days – and she would play a lot of roots and revival. Maybe it’s just a Caribbean thing but we would have these big family feasts, she’d bring a pile of CDs into the kitchen, put the rice on, put the peas on and just go for it. Even now we still have these big Caribbean buffets for birthdays and Christmas and stuff. My dad, on the other hand, was a DJ so he used to play a lot of Luciano, Janet Kay, Beanie Man, Elephant Man and stuff. My sister was really into Ginuwine too, I remember I used to love "Tell Me Do You Wonna" and my mum would always be like “Don’t sing that song! You don’t know what it means!” 

What was it like seeing your sister’s rise to fame?

Shamz Le Roc: I was fascinated by it! She used to bring me to cd:uk, Nickelodeon, anywhere that she could get me into. I was so amazed just being on set, seeing everyone. I remember one day she was going to SMTV Live and a car was sent to pick us up, it was insane, I got in the back seat and they had all these treats and a bowl of fruit pastilles in the car. It was the best thing on Earth! 

What’s your relationship with your sister like now? Do you send her a lot of your music?

Shamz Le Roc: She’s very supportive and someone that I look to for a lot of guidance. I think she’s helping me become a proper artist but I’d say most of the day-to-day hustle is definitely independent.

Would you say the EP deals with love quite a lot?

Shamz Le Roc: This is my first stab at making music and when I think back on it, the headspace I was in was actually quite gloomy. I wasn’t in a happy place, my father had just passed away and I was still grieving. Incipio has a dark tone and I think you can hear that pain when you listen to it. It’s less about love, more about me trying to take a step out of myself and be a more critical thinker. You could have done this better, you could have done that better.

Photographer Seye Isikalu; stylist Savannah Backer; hair stylist Virginie Moreira; make-up Court On Camera