☘️Irish Diva with 23 years experience, Toured with The Commitments
Professional session singer with 23 years of experience in studio and live performance
Lead l Backing Vocals l Harmony Creation l Ad Lib l Songwriter
Versatile styles, from soul and blues, to rock and pop
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Interview with Nicki Shira
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: I was invited to sing with The Commitments, from the 1991 BAFTA award movie. This was a movie that I went to see with my first boyfriend when I was 15 years old and it was based in my home city of Dublin. I knew some of the musicians/actors. To be asked to tour with them and sing both backing and lead vocals with the full band when I was in my 30s, was a great privilege. The energy on stage and the opportunity to travel with some of the most fun people before I moved countries and became a mother, was one of the best couple of years of my life.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I am learning to back myself with acoustic guitar. I am working on providing livestream gigs so that I can continue to perform despite the restrictions at this time.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Digital. I can't use analog
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: I will give it my heart and soul. If I am not feeling it I will let you know and there will be no charge.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: Singing is like a meditation for me. I need it for my wellbeing. I don't mind if it's live or studio work. I love the finished sound of a track or the sound that I hear through a monitor on stage.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: I can provide a dry mix. I don't have a fancy studio set up. I don't mix vocals.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: What is the layout of the track? i.e. where are verses, choruses etc What kind of style of vocal do you want? Do you want me to follow a guide to the T, or be creative with how I sing the vocal? Do you want me to write a top line and lyrics? If so, do you have any examples from other artists to give me an idea of what you are looking for? Do you require me to sing backing vocals, create harmonies or ad libs?
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Provide me with exact instructions. Let me know what you want, what you don't want and tell me if you want me to be creative. Once I have instructions, I am pretty good to follow them.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: Gigging radio mic, recording condenser Mic, Macbook Air, tambourine, guitar.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: 23 years! I sang before I could talk. Musical theatre as a child, church choir. I enrolled in a vocal training academy when I was 18 and got my first paid gig at 19. I got signed to a record label when I was 26 and co-wrote a pop/RnB album with two other divas.We were similar to The SugaBabes At 30, I traveled from my home of Dublin, Ireland to Thailand, where I started my international singing career as a live and studio session singer. I spent my 30s mostly touring around the world and at one point was working with up to 15 band. I continued to record in studios, while simultaneously running my own music school and developing my own vocal coaching method, which I successfully sold online. I know live in the Canary Islands, Spain, am a single mom of a 3 year old girl ( she sings too), and before the pandemic was performing casually in local bars and hotels for tourists. I also run an online marketing company or pleasure based businesses, and have a "Diva" brand
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Emotional, sexy, colourful, soulful...I have a tendency to get lost in the song. I like to vary how I sing things to allow for contrast, and to build the song. My voice has a maturity and depth to its tone. I like to write RnB / soul / dance top lines and my lyrics have depth.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: Erykah Badu. I love her voice...some people say I often sound like her. Her ease with singing soul and transitioning from low to high notes. Her whistle...she needs to teach me how to do that! (I can't whistle). Her badass ballsiness! She's just got such presence and almost a masculinity to her persona that brings power to her songs and performances.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Always listen to the track first to identify the parts of the song, so that you can break up the format into its various parts. Take melodies from other instruments and repeat them in the vocal.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: Soul, nu/neo soul, R n B, blues rock, pop, pop rock, dance music with power vocals
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: Bringing emotion to the song, especially soulful vocals. Strong vocals, mature sound, growling, mix of tone and colour.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: I sing from emotion, and although technically I have a 3 octave range, can sing anything from a strong belt, to a flawless falsetto, and an authentic chest voice, I don't believe in perfect vocals. Some flaws that come from emotion can bring life to a song. However, if you want technically perfect notes, that are pitch perfect, my lifetime of singing ( I am 44 years old now), vocal training, and regular use and maintenance of vocal health, will provide you with a vocal that won't need much by way of autotune or pitch correction.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: I like to be provided with a track either with a guide vocal, or without, where I have freedom to write a top line vocal and lyrics. I require instructions from the producer as to whether they want backing vocals, ad libs, harmonies, and I am more than happy to provide multiple tracks with various samples that can be used or not.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: Very simple home set up with MacBook Air, Garage Band, Condenser Mic
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: Sia, Erykah Badu, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Kahn, Imelda May, The Commitments, Janice Joplin
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: Studio work, lead vocals, backing vocals, creation of harmonies, ad libs, top line writing, lyric writing, dry mix vocal