If you can't stop singing "T-Shirt," don't worry--Shontelle's debut album will be out in just one month! In the mean time, J-14 caught up with the 23-year-old singer/songwriter to talk Barbados, flirting and her pal Rihanna!
J-14: How would you describe your sound?
Shontelle: My music is generally pop/R&B, but I am from Barbados, so you're going to hear some elements of reggae and other music from home.
J-14: What's your fave song off the album?
Shontelle: Of course I love "T-Shirt," but one of my favorite songs is called "Battle Cry"--to me it's like a world anthem. I really love that song because it's about getting people to come together and be strong together, no matter what's going on in your life. I love that song and the message in it.
J-14: Was there ever an experience you had like "T-Shirt?"
Shontelle: Every girl relates to "T-Shirt." We all know what it's like. A lot of people ask me, "Is it a break up song?" It's not even about being broken up. Sometimes I get e-mails from people telling me, "I love your song because my boyfriend just had to go to Iraq," or someone's in the hospital--just for whatever reason, you can't be close with the person that you want to be with. You just want to have a T-shirt from that person so you can wear it or curl up with it. Usually the T-shirt is the best thing you have because you can smell the person. All girls know what that's like.
J-14: What was your favorite part of filming the "T-Shirt" video?
Shontelle: The wardrobe! The first thing I saw as soon as I got on set was boxes of Jimmy Choos, and I'm like, "Yes! A girl's dream!" I just saw all these Jimmy Choos and I went nuts! I'm like, "Oh my gosh. I'm loving this." Then it was exciting seeing how it happens--seeing the crew and how they do all the stuff that goes into it, because you never really know that until you do it. You take one scene over and over until it's perfect, and yet the lighting has to be perfect, too. I really enjoyed being on the other side for the first time. That was really cool.
J-14: Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
Shontelle: I have so many musical influences because growing up my house was always full of music--from Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Sting and Bob Marley, all the way to Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. Then as I grew up, I started to get into Lauryn Hill and the Fugees. I became a Jay-Z fanatic. Now I love Rihanna, Chris Brown, Justin Timberlake, Timbaland and Lil Wayne. I love music so much, and all that stuff continues to inspire me. One of my favorite artists right now is Katy Perry. I love her. She's so cool. I was really lucky, too, because I did a show at Six Flags New England recently, and I got to perform with her and Estelle. It was so much fun.
J-14: What was your favorite part about performing and meeting Katy?
Shontelle: She is really fun. It was just a quick hi and bye because everybody's preparing to go on stage, but all the artists were really cool. Then I did a show at Clemson University in South Carolina, and that was really big. We had Colby O'Donis and Jesse McCartney, so the girls were going nuts at that show. We the Kings were there, too. It was a real cool show.
J-14: How weird is it to be the girl with all those guys performing?
Shontelle: That's always fun because the guys are always like, "Yeah, we're going to pick on you because you're the only girl." It's the guys against the girls, but it's always fun. You know the girls in the audience are going to be screaming for the guys, but you know that they still want to see a girl that they can relate to. They're like, "That's our home girl. She's down with us." At the same time, you're going to be flirting with the guys, so I got the best of both worlds. It's fun.
J-14: Do you have a fave song to perform?
Shontelle: At this point in time, my favorite song to perform is "T-Shirt" because that's the one that everyone knows. I love performing that because everyone helps me sing it. It's the best thing when you can interact with the audience and vibe off of them, so I love that.
J-14: You've been getting a lot of comparisons to your friend Rihanna. What do you think when you hear things like that?
Shontelle: I think it's cute. It's expected because there's not that many artists from Barbados in mainstream music. A lot of people ask her a lot of questions about me, too. We're fans of each other's music. We love each other, so it's really cool.
Shontelle's album, Shontelligence, drops November 18. Check out the deets on her MySpace page.
Photo courtesy of Universal Motown