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On the occasion of the release of his first EP Terrible Childrenthe young artist Sheng came to speak with our journalist Marouane. His influences, his way of working and his project, everything is mentioned.
R: Did you let music grow too much on your studies?
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Sheng: Maybe a little, then you have to know your priorities… I think I have my year, we’ll see later.
A: Thank you for accepting the interview. Can you introduce yourself first? Who are you and where are you from?
Sheng: I am Sheng I’m 22 years old. I grew up between the 92 and the 94. On the side of my origins, my mother is Chinese and my father is Lebanese.
A: Would you like to speak Arabic?
Sheng: I would really like to speak Arabic especially literary. My desire is to visit the Lebanon but my priority is to perfect the Chinese.
A: Have you ever been to China?
Sheng: Yes totally! When I was little until I was 12 I went there every year. I have a very strong bond with this country which I miss very much. I haven’t been back there for ten years.
A: We feel this connection with China through your name Sheng. You interpret in a lot of your songs passages in Chinese. Is it a way for you that we understand your words on the other side of the world?
Sheng: Yes my goal is to touch the China. The members of my family living in this country do not have access to Youtube, instagram, Facebook etc… So it’s quite complicated for them to follow my evolution. Lately I’ve been writing more in Chinese. And it goes to a crescendo with the fact that I miss this country more and more. Most artists in France draw their inspiration from rockers, rappers from the country etc… I don’t draw any inspiration from artists Chinese.
A: Precisely, you just told me that when you start, you have no inspiration to do what you are doing today. When did you have this click to get into music?
Sheng: When I started to discover the social life, around 2019, when I went back to college. College was a crazy experience. I made incredible friends, I chained the concerts and evenings with them. They wrote and kicked a lot so I was inspired by that environment, among other things.
A: When do you start taking it seriously?
Sheng: I pulled out Venus in 2019 available on my EP then I followed up with freestyles on 1minute2rap. At first, I didn’t feel entitled to take it seriously. Around 2020, with the support of my friends, I started taking music seriously. Then in Decemberwhen I signed to a label at Syndicatebeing surrounded by professionals has given me a lot of confidence and strength in what I do.
A: You tell me about your label. How did you meet?
Sheng: The meeting took place with my two managers: Charles and Fredo. They proposed my sounds to the label which liked it. From this, two appointments were given to me on which I answered present. From there, it took me six months after that first date to sign. The fact that it is the label ofOboy who is an artist that I listen to a lot is, even today, a great opportunity for me.
R: Oboy is an inspiration for you?
Sheng: Crazy ! He’s one of the rappers I’ve bled quite a bit. Whether it’s his piece Nuit or other pieces, he has a great touch that inspires me greatly.
A: I would like you to tell us about your musical style. How can you define it?
Sheng: Overall, it remains rap with a melancholy tendency sprinkled with influences of Chinese music.
A: Have you listened to a lot of Chinese music?
Sheng: I didn’t just listen to that, but my mother listened to a lot of Buddhist chants. It’s a lot of a cappella singing with deep voices. And precisely, in Terrible Children, I try to restore that. These are slight but present influences.
R: Did you first have this relationship with Chinese music when you were younger before rap?
Sheng: Yes totally! I bathed late in rap. It was really in high school that I listened to US rappers ( XXXTentacion …) then French rap afterwards.
A: How do your parents view your background? Are they proud to see that you’re signed, that you released an EP?
Sheng: I think they are quite proud today. At first my father was both curious and worried. On my mother’s side, she was much more enthusiastic about the fact that she wanted to become an artist when she was young. During my private showcase for the release of the EP, they were present and I’m sure they were proud.
A: I would like to talk about this EP released on June 24th. Can you tell me about its design? Since when did you do it, since when do you work on it? Going back to your first “baby” in the world of music.
Sheng: This first EP shows a kind of evolution. The passage from childhood-adolescence to adulthood. my first sound Venus in 2019 will rub shoulders with Galaxy released in 2022. It is an evolving project where the tracks were not produced at the same time. This is a first EP witness to this period between disillusion and discovery.
A: Were you afraid that we would see the difference between old and new sounds? Have you tried to hide this?
Sheng: Of course I was scared. The first sound speaks of quite intimate things. It is a fear of being vulnerable. On the other hand, it’s a rather interesting naivety that I wanted to keep. When I wrote Venus I was 18-19 years old and I think this piece can echo young people aged 18-19. I think the difference is not drastic
A: If I’m not being stupid, in this EP there is no feat. Is it a desire on your part to show your palette and not be accompanied by artists?
Sheng: Yes totally, you explained so well that I can’t say anything better (laughs). Indeed, it’s a real desire to show my palette, my skills, and to prove that I can manage on my own. It seemed quite important to me to show several sides of myself.
R: EPs are likely to arrive in a short time, is there a date that you can communicate to us?
Sheng: We are in the process of finishing the second EP, I think it will be released by the start of the school year.
A: As you have this openness to the Chinese world, we could consider featurings with Buddhist or Chinese artists. I don’t know if it’s on the agenda, but what do you think?
Sheng: Crazy, one of my dreams would be to make music more accessible by China. It is clear that having connections with artists in China would be a great goal. This is also music. A sharing that goes beyond political divisions.
R: So for future projects, will you be more open to this culture?
Sheng: Of course, you always learn more by mixing with others and other cultures, it’s really educational.
A: I have one last question about your working technique. Are you the type to have to be in your bubble like in a seminar? Or more to having to go outside to find inspiration? How do you work?
Sheng: I find that my way of writing and topliner is gradually changing. Previously I wrote in my room. Since then, I write in transport and even in the studio, because the atmosphere with the speakers suits me. Before I was shy and introverted, so music was intimate to me. I was afraid of the judgment of the beatmaker. Now I am surrounded by trusted people and I am much happier and more confident.
A: Out of curiosity, what studio do you work at?
Sheng: I mostly work at Medeline, the main beatmaker who made my EP. And also at Flatline Studio with Anthonyit is a studio on Panama. These two sound engineers guide me a lot. They have a lot of experience in music and provide me with valuable advice.