When Atlantic 154 records offered her a record contract at age twenty-one Sirsa declined, wisely, choosing to experiment with genres instead of being boxed in by a label. Preferring collaboration to self-promotion, she teamed up with industry greats like Cyril Morin (Madonna), Vivi Rama (Will.I.Am), Grecco Buratto (Pink) while producing three full-length pop albums under the names D’lovely, and then Beauty Supply.
Having proven her inner virtues — patience, humility, perseverance– and her capabilities–she’s received numerous awards for her compositions — Sirsa’s ready to conquer a new endeavor–unveiling her own persona. Yet Sirsa Shekim is unbelievably humble, proving to be a voice of compassion and healing, as her latest songs reveal. This from a woman known for globetrotting to Rome to record vocals, a woman whose songs have scored a prestigious Yves Saint Laurent runway show, or whose music has been featured alongside Paris Hilton, Pink, Chris Rock, hit TV shows and more.
Humility aside, Sirsa’s undeniably charming. In 2014, her charm caught the attention of tour de force Italian producer/ film-composer Federico Ferrandina. Progeny of reputed musicians, Ferrandina finds inspiration in shadow play, the spaces absence of light. So when Sirsa explained that her voice harnessed a power in its lightness and yet something was missing, he instinctively conjured up shadows. Instead of competing with her angelic, soothing vocals, he carefully composed a slow burning backdrop. Light amidst shadow, water into cloud, Sirsa and Federico came to realize they were each other’s perfect complement.
Drawing from pop’s more familiar lightness and superficiality, the duo is moving beyond typical songwriting conventions. The eponymous single “Black Into My Life” illuminates inner conflict and conjures up images of opposing armies battling on horseback. The punchy, 80’s-influenced pop anthem “Shot of Your Love” delivers a chorus worthy of Pat Benatar, harping on the painful effects of love sought outside oneself. Sensual and more introspective tracks like “Moth to a Flame” and “Hot Air Balloon” elucidate the woes of dangerous temptations and failed hopes and dreams. BIML promises bravery, going to the truly dark places that gives today’s pop so much trepidation. These, the places where we too as humans might find healing.
BIML, deservedly personal, offers a snapshot of Sirsa’s recent and transformative life experiences. Commuting in Beijing she found the rapid subway culture fascinating, so naturally, she took field recordings. Captivated by the majestic chime of medieval church bells, she did the same in Domme, France, and then later in Rome, where she fell in love with the wistful pneumatics of passing trains. After capturing these ambient sounds, she judiciously peppered them throughout BIML.
On BIML Sirsa and Federico, combined, allow already powerful pop songs to fully realize their complex, cosmopolitan influence. With ninety-five percent of the album recorded in both Rome and Ferrandina’s hometown of Matera, from string quartets to grand piano and more, the album oozes intensity, with a penchant for romanticism, and the breadth of quality from all things “made in Italy.” To add fuel to the Italian fire the duo found much inspiration in foreign cinema, taking cues from French films to artsy indie movies, vivid dramas and more.
The listening experience of BIML is like an afternoon on a splendid hillside, basking under soothing rains of abundant sensuality, Sirsa’s airy voice like a soft wind coaxing us, the listener, towards a more pronounced awareness of our desires, our pleasures, the dark parts of our soul that may offer bliss, illumination and a deeper connection with beauty.
Black Into My Life comes out Spring 2017 and will be available in digital format.
Words by Charlie Latan (@CharlieLatan)—Flaunt, Artillery, L.A. Record.