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Shay Lia Responds to the Youth Questionnaire

By Manna Zel

Shay Lia’s new single, “Love Me, Love Me Not,” explores feelings that occur simultaneously yet are often in conflict: feeling both sensual and melancholy; finding empowerment in being vulnerable; falling in love when you’re stuck in the friendzone. 

“I wanted it to feel intimate and soft. I was definitely exploratory with this,” Shay Lia said in a statement about her latest single. “I wanted my listeners to feel how sensuality, pleasure, and melancholy can blend into the same song.”

In “Love Me, Love Me Not,” Shay Lia explores a woman’s perspective of being friendzoned, detailing sleepless nights spent thinking of someone who isn’t thinking of you and evoking the childhood nostalgia of plucking flower petals to help solve the mystery of unreciprocated romance. “We should not be afraid to share how [being friendzoned] makes us feel! It can be empowering to be vulnerable,” she says.

“Love Me, Love Me Not” is Shay Lia’s second soulful offering this summer following “All Up to You”—and it doesn’t skip a beat, blending together pop and afrobeat to express the Djiboutian-French, Montreal-based artist’s own vulnerable self-discovery. Check out her single below, and keep scrolling for her answers to YTTP’s Youth Questionnaire.

Question 3: Where are you most free?

I feel the most free when I’m dancing. Dancing has always been one of my main forms of expression and the medium I revisit whenever I need to be in the moment, forget everything going on, and lose myself to the music. 

Question 5: What do you dream of?

I constantly daydream of being able to use music to continue to share messages of love and vulnerability. I’m highly sensitive and I try to convey that in my work. My favorite topic will always be love because it’s endless and has so many facets. Love of self, of others, of your craft. It’s my dream to live my life sharing this with people. I also dream about women feeling good when they listen to my music. I want them to sing and dance to it, to be soulful with it.

Question 9: What is your favorite memory in nature?

As a child, being in Djibouti and going to the beach every weekend with my family. I remember us being on boats, fishing, laughing, and cooking together.  We would often be the only people on this beach, no tourists around us, just the otherworldly beauty of nature and the unique landscapes of Djibouti. 

Question 10: Describe your relationship with your ego.

As an artist in an ego-filled industry, I have a unique relationship with my ego. I feel a strong duality: on one hand I can be incredibly selfless when making decisions, on the other hand, my ego can be useful and I’ll indulge it because as a woman in this industry, you need your ego to fuel your ambition and be heard. I’m a Black woman so I face different injustices, and in those moments I allow my ego to come out and be my strength, protecting my sensitive self and ensuring that things are kept up to my standard.  

My ego can be  something I love or hate. I’m also a perfectionist and my ego can become toxic if I don’t let it serve a greater purpose. I know how useless it can be if it comes out at the wrong time.

Question 19: If your energy were visible to others, what would it look like?

It would be like my music, mostly yellow or gold. Very solar. Of course my energy changes every day and I'm still working on having more balance, but it’s definitely warm, comforting, and bright when I feel good, and it can attract people very easily. My energy would also have its own shape, one you don’t necessarily recognize, because I’m very independent in the way I think and do things.

Photo courtesy of Ben Faure