Exclusive Q&A with Shontelle


As if Shontelle's catchy song "T-Shirt" wasn't hard enough to get out of your head two summers ago, her newest single, "Impossible," is a ballad that's worth singing along to as well. The singer stopped by the J-14 office where she chatted about her upcoming album, touring with Beyoncé, and her friendship with fellow Barbados native Rihanna.

J-14: What's the story behind your single "Impossible"? Shontelle: First of all, I really felt like ballads were missing from radio for a minute, and I knew that there was no song out there for heartbroken people. I just wanted to put a song out that gave people hope -- things may not work out the way you want them to, but you can move past it and everything is gonna be okay. I know that a lot of people have a similar story and sometimes you need to feel like you're not alone. I knew that I might have to tell embarrassing stories about myself, but I might help someone realize, 'Okay, if Shontelle can figure it out, then I'll be alright.' It's not the end of the world -- you can move on, and this is song is going to help you find the strength somehow.

J-14: When did you realize that you might have to break up with the boy you're singing about in the song? Shontelle: You get tired of hearing people. A big part of why you hurt when someone cheats on you or when you break up is because everyone is going to find out. You're always going be embarrassed when someone betrays you like that or you're walking around blind. You feel really stupid because you feel like here I am walking around like, 'I have this hot boy and everything is all good,' and then he's really not there and you're looking really stupid, giving everything to this person who really isn't giving their all to you. It's very embarrassing.

J-14: Is it true that you wanted to go for more of a rock vibe on the new album? Shontelle: A lot of people wouldn't think that this -- I am this girl who grew up in Barbados -- but I listened to so much rock music growing up. Green Day is one of my favorite bands! I'm very much influenced by that music. People don't really know that rock spawned from reggae and ska and all that music that is so natural to us where I'm from, so I feel like it's just a natural attraction that makes me want to infuse it into my music. My album has a lot more drums and guitars now -- the last one had a lot of piano. It's a little known fact about me that I play the drums, so I really love rhythm and bass. I like messing around with "Empire State of Mind" or "Umbrella," those sorts of beats where it's very simple but so catchy and they just make you move and want to dance.

J-14: Have you always been into music? Shontelle: Yeah! The first toy I can remember having was one of those Playskool drum sets. My parents hated that they gave it to me because there was no silence! I would play that thing all day and night. They tried to hide the drumsticks, but I would use knives and forks -- I would find something to beat on that drum.

J-14: What was it like to tour in Europe with Beyoncé? Shontelle: Life changing, actually. I didn't think I was going to be star struck. You don't necessarily cross paths just because you're on the same tour, so I didn't really think she would have time with what goes in to the preparation for her show. But then one day my manager comes in and was like, "Dude, Beyoncé wants to see you." My claw marks are probably still on the wall because I couldn't go in the room -- I was gripping the sides of the wall and they pushed me in to her room, and I literally fell into her. She was cracking up. She was just so nice to me. She said, "When I'm back here getting ready to go on after you, I can hear you singing every night and your voice is so beautiful." And I'm like, "You have the most epic voice of the minute right now. You're Beyonce! What are you talking about?" She was saying things like, "Keep working -- I'm gonna see your name in lights." And I wanted to slap myself, like no way is this for real. I thought that was going to be it, but then she invited me to hang out again. Every night, depending on the city, someone huge showed up. The last time I hung out with her, it was so cool -- it was Jay-Z, [Beyoncé's younger sister] Solange, the whole fam. I learned so much just from being on that tour

J-14: You're also friends with Rihanna - have you spoken to her recently? Shontelle: She reached out and texted, "'Impossible.' Wow." She's so sweet and very supportive like that. If she knows we're in the same city and she has something going on, she'll invite me [out]. I went to see that musical Fela [two weeks ago], and I'm in the bathroom and these random ladies come up to me and they're like, "Do you know that you look like Rihanna?" Even though I have a ponytail! People at home in Barbados think I look like her sometimes too. It's really weird. The girl has a pixie haircut now! There's no way that Ri and look the same but people say it's a Barbados thing -- there's a look.

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