"A bop is a bop," says Shamir, whose independent label Accidental Popstar Records has already begun delivering exactly that (like with Macy Rodman's 2021 album, Unbelievable Animals, for one). Up next on his roster is Ladifa, a 22-year-old artist who was raised in the suburbs of Seattle to an immigrant family and was discovered upon releasing Garageband demos and covers to YouTube.
One in particular caught Shamir's eye: Ladifa's take on "Dreams" by Fleetwood Mac, which a friend shared with him in the fall of 2020. Stripped down with only a piano, the emotional cover showcased Ladifa's wise and vintage-sounding vocals. Shamir was so impressed that he immediately signed her and the two started co-writing material together over Zoom.
Her debut single, "Best Of Me," centers on Ladifa's anxieties above a summery, washed out guitar (produced by Shamir). "Oh well pardon me," she sings, pulling inspiration from fellow songwriters like Tori Amos and Mitski "I"m sorry I avoid the things that scare me." The track arrives today with a DIY music video, also directed by Shamir, shot around Los Angeles.
Watch the PAPER premiere of Ladifa's "Best Of Me," below, and keep reading for an interview between the collaborators. As her bio reads, "The future is bright for Ladifa and her hair is even brighter."
Shamir: I have an idea of what the song is about since we touched on it during our writing sessions, but what inspired "Best of Me"?
Ladifa: In the spirit of honesty, the inspiration was realizing my very bad habit of allowing my grievances with people to pile up until I could no longer continue being around that person. Also being the people pleaser who thinks they’re avoiding hurting someone's feelings by avoiding them, but that doesn’t end up being the case. I am not gonna say that’s not the right way to go about things because every situation is circumstantial, but I can say I definitely grew from where I was when we initially wrote the song. Collaborating with you did help kill a little bit of the people pleaser in me by having to practice being vocal about pretty much all feelings during the music making process.
Shamir: The song was built from a rough demo you sent me. Do you remember that day you started it? What state of mind were you in? Was it magical? Did you ever in a million years think it would become your debut single?
Ladifa: I actually don’t remember the specific day of making it, I only remember the night I sent over all my demos to you because I was so anxious I couldn’t sleep. It’s very generous to call them demos, they were little snippets of ideas. That was the first time anyone had ever heard anything I’ve made. After sifting through what I sent you, I remember you told me you thought it had potential, which I was really shocked to hear. It only started to feel like magic when we did the Zoom session and started popping lyrics back and forth, and ended up finishing it super quick. But no, when writing I didn’t initially think it would be the debut single because it was literally the first song we ever wrote together — but a bop is a bop, as you would say.
Shamir: What were you feeling when I reached out to you after you posted that Fleetwood Mac cover? What made you decide to work with me?
Ladifa: After posting that cover and then being reached out to by you and Safy, I was bewildered at how strangers at the time were so willing to dedicate their time and resources into someone who had absolutely nothing to show for it (like rock bottom zero newborn baby, my YouTube channel had one video up and it was the cover). During our first Zoom meeting, we had a conversation about artist development and you said it was okay if I didn’t know everything, you’d help me learn how to be an artist even if I chose not to be on Accidental Popstar. My sister was dead set on this being some sort of scam after telling her everything as it was unfolding. Not to be sappy, but I’ve never come across someone so generous I feel so lucky to know and learn from you. I’ve never had a mentor or anyone see any potential in me, so I’m ultimately very grateful you decided to work with me.
Shamir: What was your favorite part of filming the video around LA? We shot at so many locations.
Ladifa: My favorite part was definitely filming at Tropico Beauty with Phil [Hartunian]. I really loved that location and the pink wall with the cacti. The acting scene with Phil was so fun to shoot and I remember laughing the whole time. My least favorite, though, was definitely the laying down shot in the grass at Echo Park and all those ants crawling up me. It felt like an episode of Fear Factor.
Shamir: Seeing as this is your debut single, what do you want the world to know about the artist, "Ladifa"? What should we expect in the future?
Ladifa: As an artist I am braver than I am as a person, so I love getting to spill my guts through music. My need for connection is greater than shame or fear, so I think that’s what draws me to artistry and fuels my art. As for what to expect, bops and bops only because that is Shamir’s only rule and our way of life.
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