10 Questions for Shalee

Editor’s Note: This is a repost of my second interview as a contributing music & entertainment writer to Popular Hispanics, originally titled A River Grooves Through It and originally posted here

Ivana Gomez is the daughter of Spanish music legend, Paloma San Basilio.  Though no secret, she has decided to forge her own creative path and musical destiny.  In her own words, she is a new renaissance woman, who has nurtured natural artistic talents and tempered creative skills through higher education and practical experience in film scoring, music and video production, acting, and singing.  She has recast herself as Shalee, her solo musical persona, to lead her own personal musical renaissance and let the world come along with her as she explores. 

Learn more about Shalee in [what was] this EXCLUSIVE PopularHispanics.com interview. 

Click the first pic to go to her official site and second, at the end of the interview, to get to her Facebook Page.

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1. Your mother is Spanish legend, Paloma San Basilio – singer, songwriter, and musical theater star to name a few.  Can you speak on that legacy and how it has inspired you musically as a writer, producer, actress, and just as an overall artist? I love my mother very much and respect her tremendously, but I loved music since I can remember and I always had my special relationship with it, very individual and unique.  My mother never actually learned music, hasn’t written or produced music, but created some of the lyrics to her songs.  I always played piano and understood music in a very different way as a composer as well as interpreter.  My entire family was very musical.  My grandfather used to play classical music very often and my father played piano, so probably all of it has influenced me.

Likely, what had most influenced me and my music, in relation to my mother, as a renowned artist, is the pain, loneliness, and sadness that it has created in my life.  It inspired me to hold on to music as the only way to express myself and to keep going.

*Shalee’s mention of pain, loneliness, and sadness in relation to being the child of a renowned artist really struck me, so I followed up after the initial interview and asked her to elaborate.  She was very accommodating, forthcoming, open, and honest with her response. Here is what she had to say. When I was a baby, my parents got divorced and I lived with my mother, but she was always away and I hardly saw my father.  Basically, I was raised by my wonderful grandparents (Paloma’s parents).  However, my grandmother died of cancer when I was 6 and my grandfather died when I was 13, which left me, at a very young age…truly alone.  At that time, my life was totally different than my mother’s and we were not very close.  She was very busy with her life and I struggled very hard to cope and had a very difficult stretch in my life.  It was not unlike the struggle of many young people as they go from adolescence to adulthood, but for me it was especially hard.  I know it was also hard and painful for her, too, in a different way.  That being said, being an only child, music became my refuge, a true companion and one of the very few consistent things I’ve had to hold onto in my life and now I really want to share it with the world. 

2. Tell us about the name Shalee.  What does it mean?  Why did you choose it? Well, I think that when you are an artist you are channeling a very deep part of yourself that has its own identity.  In my case, this is my spiritual part. I meditate daily and in one of those meditations this name came to me, the sound of it resonates with my soul.

Later on I researched if that name actually existed and I found this:

The girl’s name Shalee \sh(a)-lee\ is a variant of Shaila (Hindi), and the meaning of Shalee is “river.”

So, I guess it made sense to me, since the river flows and that is kind of what I do with my music and my voice.

3. Is Ivana Gomez different from Shalee? How are they different?
I guess Ivana Gomez encompasses all the different aspects of my being while Shalee lives in a more ethereal dimension, a dimension of music, creativity, communication and spirit.

4. You write, score film, produce music and videos, act, and participate in musical ensembles in addition to being a solo musical artist. Sometimes it seems like an actor who sings, should have a bangin’ video, but it doesn’t always happen that way.  Why do you think that is?  Is it a matter of who’s in control?  With all the hats you wear, do you make sure to crossover the quality and experience you have from one role to another? It depends on many elements:  the budget, the team of people that you work with, and also if you can maintain any creative control.  Often, it’s not the artist who decides but other people whose main concern is making the video more “commercial” and sometimes for them this means overexposing the artist sexually and not creating a quality product.

I believe all humans are artists.  I would like to say I am a woman of a new renaissance.  I love music, film, painting, writing.  It is a matter of in what do you choose to invest most of your time.  I believe practice makes perfect and each day has 24 hours.  So, talent and practice is the best combination. 

I am very much a perfectionist, but also I learned to be flexible and spontaneous, so I enjoy what I do and do the best of my ability in that particular moment in time and I keep studying and learning.

I love learning new things.

5. With all your interests and experience, is Shalee, your solo project, your main focus and priority right now? Finally it is. I have made my choice.  I love all that I do, but my solo project comes first.  I owe it to myself. 

6. What are you hoping to achieve and bring to the masses with this project?
I want to give a portrait of myself expressed through my art.  To also bring my view of life, my understanding of it, and what I have learned.

I think that it is an act of sharing and connecting…a beautiful thing.

7. I read that because of your music video production background you come up with some interesting background videos for your live musical performances.  Tell us about that. I guess that when I perform I like to feel immersed in another dimension and also invite the audience to that space and I always felt music as something visual, so I create mostly abstract videos that connect with the music.  They are filled with colors, shapes and then synchronized to the rhythm of the music.  We live in a multimedia era and I incorporate that into my vision of music.

8. I grew up with MTV and music videos aren’t what they used to be.  I think Erykah Badu and Lady Gaga may have brought some renewed interest to the medium this year and may be helping to get it back to the level where it was.  Do you think the internet killed the music video star? I love technology and I think it is a wonderful thing that brings opportunities to more and more people.  It all depends on the way that you use your tools.  More people have the means to create and the appreciation of people’s creations and art are subjective, not absolute.  It is not so controlled by a few, but out there for everybody to share. We just have to adapt to the changes and make a good use of them.  

9. Your songs sound electro-dance-pop with some hip hop thrown in.  How would describe your sound? I definitely love electronic music, but I love many different styles of music.  My music is influenced by everything that I feel, hear, and see, so it’s always evolving and changing.  I guess I love computers and the intimacy of my studio allows me to create my own world through my art.

10. If you had to narrow your message to the world into one sound bite, what would it be and why? “Find peace inside of yourself and reconnect.” 

The most important thing in this life is to have peace and from that point of stillness you can learn who you are, learn about the world, the universe, create and share, feel joy, happiness, love and hope.

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