Huw Stephens: When did you realize you had this incredible voice?
Shakka Philip: There wasn't really one moment of realization. It was always a party trick my parents would bring out whenever family were over: "Shakka, sing Michael Jackson's 'Black or White' for Aunty Paula!" Then it went from singing for family to singing for friends, singing for girls, and finally, for the world.
"Londoners are a bit like mutts—there's a mini-culture that's been born from people of different races living with each other, and, because of that, we all understand each other regardless of what country we're from."
HS: What was growing up in London like, musically? What was the "in" thing when you were in school?
SP: Londoners are a bit like mutts—there's a mini-culture that's been born from people of different races living with each other, and, because of that, we all understand each other regardless of what country we're from. The music was no different: reggae, garage, soca, punk, hip-hop, indie, and house were everywhere. That's why I am the way I am, I guess. In school, we were all into Dizzee [Rascal] and Wiley, as well as B2K, Sean Paul, and OutKast. I'd beatbox grime instrumentals, and the MCs in school would spit over them. This was before phones had YouTube speakers.
HS: A musical hero of yours, Craig David, is singing again. What does that mean to you as a fan?
SP: U.K. garage was like a secret that me and my friends would share whenever we had a new tape with fresh tunes. He was one of the first to put that secret out to the world, and make people take it as seriously as the Fresh Prince, Destiny's Child, or Nirvana. Now that we share a time zone where we're both putting out music, the experience is surreal.
"I'm supporting Brandy next week, performing at Wireless Festival in London on July 9th, and flying out to perform in Croatia and Lithuania in late July. A fun next 6 months."
HS: I first met you after a Kanye show in London. What do you remember from that concert?
SP: I remember twisting my ankle during Skepta's "Shutdown" performance. I remember doing the "Started From The Bottom" strut to "Blood on The Leaves," and I also remember "That's Not Me" getting more reception than Big Sean's "I Don't F with U." No shade—I'm a fan of Big Sean, but that solidified the moment for me.
HS: You have a lot of friends in the scene. Who do you rate?
SP: There are too many to name. Nao, Ray BLK, and AJ Tracey are doing it for me right now.
HS: What's next for Shakka in 2016?
SP: Concerts, new music, and snapchat stories. I'm supporting Brandy next week, performing at Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, London, on July 9th, and flying out to perform in Croatia and Lithuania in late July. My follow up to The Lost Boys EP is on its way as well. A fun next 6 months.