American singer/songwriter Shako released his debut single “99 Problems” on May 18th. 

Inspired by the likes of Jason Mraz and John Mayer, the New York City-based musician is unveiling his soulful sound through his promising debut single. “I wrote this song when I was 16. I noticed people were vibing out ever since I wrote it. I had a lot of insecurities moving forward as an artist. However, I had a fantastic producer helping me realize my first singles full potential. We worked long and hard on the product and finally came out with something that I am 100 percent proud of and want the world to hear”, says Shako.

Produced by 
Malcolm Fong & Shako, “99 Problems” is now available on all major streaming platforms. 

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Introduce yourself.

Hey guys I am Shako! I am a singer-songwriter and I play guitar! I appreciate you for interviewing me.

What’s your story?

I come from a very musical family. We moved around a lot  to different Russian speaking countries when I was a kid. My family and I always took the love of music with us no matter where we went and what the circumstances were. Personally, I have been doing gigs around NY, playing for other artists, and writing for other artists for the past 6 years. 

Do you remember your first musical memory? 

The earliest musical memories in my life were of my dad playing the saxophone in the house. He would listen to Charlie Parker or John Coltrane and try to pick up on the things they were playing. He would also take me to a lot of Jazz clubs he played at in Russia. I must of been 5 at the time. 

What got you into music?

As surprising as it may sound, it was Nirvana. The level of Kurt’s openness and vulnerability in his songwriting was truly something else. There were so many memorable riffs and hits in the span of a few years. I picked up the guitar at 14 trying to learn all the Nirvana I could!

At what point did you know music was more than just a hobby?

When I was 16 I wrote my first song, that’s when I knew I wanted to make this into something bigger than just me noodling on the guitar. 

Tell us about your first experiences in the music industry. What lessons did you learn since then? 

Around the age of 18 I got the chance to play for this big time music lawyer with a lot of industry connections. I remember being super nervous. I finished playing for him and he seemed blown away. He started listing all the things he was going to do for me and all the people he would introduce me to. I obviously left feeling like I was on Cloud 9. Nothing really came out of that situation and I barely heard from him ever again. That experience told me to not get my hopes up before things were actually finalized.

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You recently released your debut single “99 Problems”. What’s the story behind this record?

I was sixteen years old. I was on the E train writing. I don’t know about you all reading this but I can’t help but look at the people on the subway and wonder what’s their story. There was a couple on the train that didn’t look very wealthy but I had never seen two people reciprocate so much love towards each-other, not by making out every 5 seconds but with the way they looked at each other. That was the main idea for the tune. I left a couple of Easter eggs in that song as well. I tried telling this story using a couple of the most iconic lines form my favorite rap hits. Lines such as “I said a hip the hop the hiddy”, “one to the three to the four”, and obviously the tittle track “99 problems”. I also put in “Stand by the closing doors” as another little thing for any New Yorker to pick up on. 

Listen to “99 Problems” here. 

What’s the goal for this debut single? 

The goal for this single is to introduce myself as an Artist to the world or to whoever is listening. I feel like this is a good first song that gives people a taste of what’s to come.

What did you grow up listening to?

As long as I remember I can always hear Stevie Wonder playing in our house. The man has been a god like figure to my family.

Who are your biggest influences, in life and in music? 

I will always say Stevie but I have to mention John Mayer and Jason Mraz, who have had a lot to do with shaping my sound to what it is. All these guys had a love for using rich chord progressions, heart felt lyrics, and colorful instrumentation arrangements. Bruno Mars has definitely done his fair share of that for me as well. 

You live in NYC. How would you define this city?

The city is always moving and there is so much energy in this city and so many people from such different walks of life. It just feels infinite. I would describe it as a small collage of the world. 

What can you tell us about the music industry in NYC? 

It’s a difficult market to get in because there is so much competition. That’s also the beautiful part of it all because you never stop being inspired by other talent. 

Why do you make music? What keeps you going? 

Other musicians keep me going. A lot of my musical peers keep me going. If I am ever down, all it takes is a good new chord progression for a potential song. I believe that’s a very magical thing, to self heal yourself through your own creativity. 

What do you want to accomplish in this world? 

I want to be able to write and produce for other artists as well as pursue my own career as an artist.

In your opinion, what would make the world a better place?

I believe we need to practice speaking openly more. Trying to understand why the opposing side is arguing against us or why they believe they are right is extremely important. 

Any upcoming project? 

I am working on a more acoustic release in the near future however, there is so much material that I have been hoarding over the years. I plan on releasing some of it in the near future.

What’s your purpose?

My purpose is to gain more meaning in my life and to put it into my music. I want to experiment and  document it all in my music. 

Connect with Shako:

Official website