Shamir (musician)

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Birth nameShamir Bailey
Born (1994-11-07) November 7, 1994 (age 27)
OriginLas Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter
InstrumentsVocals, guitar, synthesizer, drums
Years active2014–present
LabelsLittle L, Godmode, XL, Father/Daughter

Shamir Bailey (born November 7, 1994) is an American singer, songwriter and actor from Las Vegas, Nevada.[1][2] His debut extended play (EP), Northtown, was released in June 2014 to positive reviews.[2] In October 2014, he signed to XL Recordings and released the single "On the Regular".[3] His debut LP Ratchet was released on May 19, 2015 in the United States.[1][2] Ensuing albums include Revelations (2017) and Resolution (2018).

Early life[edit]

Shamir grew up in North Las Vegas,[1][2][4] an area that he has called "cookie-cutter suburban."[5] He was raised as a Muslim but describes himself as "more spiritual than religious, I don't believe in god per se, I kind of feel like god is the universe."[5] Shamir is non-binary, informing an interviewer in 2015 that "I don't identify as gay because I don't identify as male or female".[6] Although he does not have a preferred pronoun, he is comfortable with male pronouns,[7] and "never really got" singular they.[8]

His aunt was in the music business and lived with Shamir and his mother. Bass players and producers were guests at the family's home, helping his aunt with her songs.[9] His parents and aunt introduced him to a wide range of music, including hip-hop, R&B, Outkast, Groove Theory, and singers like Billie Holiday, Nina Simone and Janis Joplin.[2][9][10] At age nine, Shamir received an Epiphone guitar, and began writing music.[1]

At age 16, he formed a punk band with a friend, but the band ended quickly when his partner froze on stage at their first gig.[9] During his high school years, he recorded tracks for his first EP.[1] Shortly after graduating from high school, he sent a demo tape to the Godmode label in New York City. The label founder Nick Sylvester signed him to the label.[2][5]

Music career[edit]

Shamir's debut EP, Northtown, was released by Godmode in June 2014 and is named for the Northtown neighborhood where he grew up.[11] Jules Muir, writing for the music blog Pigeons & Planes noted that Shamir "continues to make a bigger name for himself with every new release and a unique new sound on each."[12] Jamieson Cox of Pitchfork called the EP's opening track, "If It Wasn't True" "a stunning opening salvo, one that plays on the tension between Shamir's slender vocal and lyrical naiveté and grimy, threatening instrumental tones before devolving into a chaotic mess, swallowed by a haphazardly firing synth corroding in real-time."[11] In July 2014, Flavorwire named Shamir's "If It Wasn't True" one of its "25 Best Songs of 2014 So Far".[13] also included Shamir in its "New Music To Know: Best of 2014, So Far" profile, noting that "Shamir combines the honest songwriting of Taylor Swift with the theatrics of Lana Del Rey to make something that sounds far wiser than his 19 years."[10]

After signing to XL Recordings, he released the single "On the Regular" in October 2014[14] which went on to be used in a 2015 Android Wear commercial.[15] In March 2015, he released "Call It Off" as a single in the debut album, Ratchet, released on May 19, 2015.[16] The accompanied music video was made and released as part of the 2015 YouTube Music Awards.[17] "Darker" was the second single from Ratchet; the song was released in May 2015.[18][19][20] In 2015, he toured with Years & Years, opening for their UK dates. In mid-March 2016, he served as the opening act for Troye Sivan's Blue Neighbourhood Tour. On April 17, 2017, Shamir released his second album, Hope. He revealed he was dropped from XL Recordings and self-released the album.[citation needed]

After Hope was released, Shamir broke with his management team and again considered quitting his music career. After a psychotic episode, he spent time in a psychiatric hospital, where he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He returned to Las Vegas, where he wrote and recorded most of his third album, Revelations, in two weeks. Noting that the style of the album differed significantly from his previous work, he told a journalist: "A lot of people think I'm crazy. I guess I kind of am. But I also know what's best for me, and that's more important than fame and money".[21]

Shamir was featured on Wussy Magazine's "Sex Issue" in 2018.[22] On March 9, 2018, Shamir released his fourth album, Resolution without any prior announcement. Resolution marks a continuation of Shamir's indie rock style, similar to Hope and Revelations.[23]

In 2020, Shamir released the self-titled full length album, Shamir. It was co-produced by Kyle Pulley, and many of the songs, including the single "On My Own" were recorded at Headroom Studios in Philadelphia. The album was met with critical acclaim and made year end lists for Rolling Stone, Pitchfork and NPR Music.[24][25][26]

Shamir published his first book, But I'm a Painter, with Bottlecap Press in 2021, a collection of essays about paintings he created over the previous six years.[27]

Musical style[edit]

Shamir is known for having an androgynous countertenor voice.[1] wrote that Shamir's singing voice, "like Joplin's, stops you in your tracks."[10] He does not mind having his voice described as androgynous, but notes that "countertenor" is the correct term: "It's not feminine, it's not masculine. It's a happy medium ... I feel like if the world was more like that, our problems would be gone."[10]

Critic Jamieson Cox, writing for Pitchfork Media, wrote:

With a piercing countertenor somewhere between Prince masquerading as Camille and the cracking adolescent soul of the teenage Michael Jackson, the 19-year-old North Las Vegas native dismantles the expectations maintained for vocalists based on their gender, demanding instead that the focus be placed on their agile, fluttering performance.[11]

Lizzie Plaugic of CMJ called Shamir's music "amazingly unclassifiable," like a "souped-up Vegas Strip disco with a self-conscious pop bent," and wrote that his voice "limbers and stretches like a wad of pink Silly Putty dipped in glitter."[28] In a 2020 Vulture interview, Shamir cited Taylor Swift as an inspiration and influence on his songwriting.[29]


Studio albums[edit]

Title Details Peak chart positions



Ratchet 6 7 22
  • Released: April 17, 2017
  • Label: Self-released
  • Formats: LP,[33] streaming
  • Released: November 3, 2017
  • Label: Father/Daughter
  • Formats: CD, cassette, digital download, streaming
  • Released: August 31, 2018
  • Label: Self-released
  • Formats: LP, digital download, streaming
Be the Yee, Here Comes the Haw
  • Released: April 19, 2019
  • Label: Self-released
  • Formats: Digital download, streaming
  • Released: March 18, 2020
  • Label: Self-released
  • Formats: Cassette, digital download, streaming
  • Released: October 2, 2020
  • Label: Self-released
  • Formats: LP, cassette, digital download, streaming
  • Scheduled: February 11, 2022[34]
  • Label: Self-released
To be released

Extended plays[edit]

Title Details
  • Released: January 31, 2014
  • Label: Little L
  • Formats: Digital download
  • Released: June 6, 2014
  • Label: Godmode
  • Formats: Vinyl, Digital download
  • Released: March 9, 2018
  • Label: Father/Daughter
  • Formats: 7-inch vinyl, digital download, streaming
Jam in the Van - Shamir (Live Session)
  • Released: March 10, 2018
  • Label: Self-released
  • Formats: Digital download, streaming

Live albums[edit]

Title Details
Shamir on Audiotree Live
  • Released: December 20, 2017
  • Label: Audiotree Music
  • Formats: Digital download, streaming


Title Year Album
"On the Regular" 2015 Ratchet
"I Wonder" 2020 Shamir
"Other Side"

Guest appearances[edit]

Release Year Other artist(s) Credits Album
"Punx with Ukeleles" 2019 Fashion Brigade Featured artist/co-writer Fvck the Heartache
"Shout" 2018 House of Feelings Featured artist/co-writer New Lows
"Tantrum" 2017 Michete Featured artist/co-writer Cool Tricks 3 (EP)
"Tunnel Vision" Rina Sawayama Featured artist/co-writer Rina (EP)
"Like O, Like H" Tegan and Sara Cover performer Tegan and Sara present The Con X: Covers
"Falling" House of Feelings Featured artist/co-writer Last Chance (EP)

Other album appearances[edit]

Song Year Other artist(s) Album
"Burn with Me" 2020 N/A Bernie Speaks with the Community[35]



Opening act


  1. ^ a b c d e f St. John, Colin (May 13, 2015). "Five reasons to love Shamir; Get to know the ascendant pop star before they blow up". Timeout. New York. p. 18.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Crawford, Anwen (May 18, 2015). "Never Settle: The shape-shifting methods of Shamir". The New Yorker. New York. pp. 90–92. Retrieved June 9, 2015.
  3. ^ "Shamir Shares "On the Regular" Video, Signs to XL". Pitchfork. 28 October 2014. Retrieved April 27, 2015.
  4. ^ Wilkinson, Matt (June 25, 2014). "A Guide to The Las Vegas Scene That Inspired Shamir's Incredible New EP". NME.
  5. ^ a b c "Shamir Q&A: Meet the man behind one of 2014's most essential new EP's". NME. June 25, 2014.
  6. ^ Lamphier, Jason (May 7, 2015). "Hot List: Shamir". Out.
  7. ^ Kretowicz, Steph (May 13, 2015). "INTERVIEW: Shamir". Dummy.
  8. ^ Shamir (April 4, 2015). "Twitter". Twitter.
  9. ^ a b c Gebremedhin, Thomas (2014). ""If It Wasn't True" by Shamir Bailey Is Your New Favorite Breakup Song". Vogue. Archived from the original on 2014-08-09.
  10. ^ a b c d "New Music To Know: Best of 2014, So Far". July 2, 2014.
  11. ^ a b c Cox, Jamieson (June 9, 2014). "Shamir: Northtown EP". Pitchfork.
  12. ^ Muir, Jules (June 5, 2014). "Listen to "Northtown," Shamir's Impressive Debut EP". Pigeons & Planes.
  13. ^ Halperin, Moze (July 9, 2014). "Staff Picks: Flavorwire's Favorite Cultural Things This Week".
  14. ^ Minsker, Evan (October 28, 2014). "Shamir Shares 'On the Regular' Video, Signs to XL". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved February 15, 2015.
  15. ^ "Android: Wear what you want (party on)". YouTube. March 9, 2015. Retrieved March 9, 2015.
  16. ^ Milton, Jamie (March 23, 2015). "Shamir Shares New Single, Call It Off". DIY. DIY. Retrieved March 23, 2015.
  17. ^ "Shamir - Call It Off (Official Music Video YTMAs)". YouTube. YouTube. March 23, 2015. Retrieved March 23, 2015.
  18. ^ Spin
  19. ^ Pitchfork
  20. ^
  21. ^ Coscarelli, Joe (September 8, 2017). "Shamir Steps Away From the Spotlight, and His Signature Sound". The New York Times. Retrieved October 14, 2017.
  22. ^ B. T. L. Staff (7 February 2018). "Queer Non-Binary Artist Graces Cover of WUSSY's 'The Sex Issue'". Pride Source. Retrieved 2020-09-26.
  23. ^ Bailey, Shamir (March 9, 2018). "Resolution". Bandcamp. Retrieved March 17, 2018.
  24. ^ "Rolling Stone: Best Albums of 2020". 2020-12-04. Retrieved 2021-02-15.
  25. ^ Pitchfork (7 December 2020). "The 100 Best Songs of 2020". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2021-02-15.
  26. ^ "Bob Boilen's 40 Favorite Songs Of 2020". Retrieved 2021-02-15.
  27. ^ "Shamir announces his first book, 'But I'm a Painter'". NME. 2021-08-02. Retrieved 2021-08-03.
  28. ^ Plaugic, Lizzie (June 6, 2014). "Stream Shamir's Debut EP, Northtown". CMJ. Archived from the original on October 1, 2014.
  29. ^ Curto, Justin (October 6, 2020). "Taylor Swift, Canadian Singer-Songwriters, and More Influences on Shamir". Vulture. Retrieved October 7, 2020.
  30. ^ "Shamir Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved October 9, 2020.
  31. ^ "Shamir Chart History: Heatseekers Albums". Billboard. Retrieved October 9, 2020.
  32. ^ "Shamir Chart History: Independent Albums". Billboard. Retrieved October 9, 2020.
  33. ^ "Shamir Exclusive Peach Marbled Vinyl". Amazon. Retrieved October 9, 2020.
  34. ^ "Shamir Announces New Album Heterosexuality, Shares "Cisgender" Video: Watch". Pitchfork. November 9, 2021. Retrieved November 10, 2021.
  35. ^ "Bernie Speaks With the Community by Various Artists (Album, Indie Rock): Reviews, Ratings, Credits, Song list - Rate Your Music". Retrieved 2020-03-16.
  36. ^ "Shamir Bailey",IMDb. Retrieved on 15 May 2019.

External links[edit]