Spotlight: Shayanna Dyer-Harris


12 Sep 17

Boxpark Croydon's biggest open mic and jam session, The Groove Kitchen, returns this weekend for another night of live music and great vibes. This collection of some of London's finest musicians sets the perfect tone for a Sunday evening of Soul, Jazz, Funk and more. We caught up with Groove Kitchen's host and lead vocalist Shayanna Dyer-Harris to find out how the event came to be and how YOU can get involved.

Hey Shayanna, tell us who you are and what you do.

I’m Shayanna, the vocalist and host of the Groove Kitchen. I open the show and get the jam and open mic started. I'm the one you see running around with the song list!

What can visitors expect from the Groove Kitchen's monthly residency at Boxpark Croydon?

Great songs by great musicians, as well as guest appearances from local and known musicians, banter, singalong, serious musicians and good vibes that take you into Monday with ease. It’s an open space for musicians and non-musicians to reimagine their favourite songs and chill! 

How did the Groove Kitchen come about?

I host an absolutely wicked jam in West London and thought that I want to do something like that somewhere a bit local to me, as I'm a south Londoner! Boxpark Croydon was pointed out to me and it seemed the perfect fit, so I thought i'd just go for it. It's a wicked venue! So much to do and so much to eat - hahaha! Plus, I haven’t seen anyone in this area doing what we do. 

Groove kitchen is an open mic and jam for musicians and a party for us all. I'll explain what I mean - I've been to so many jams where it’s closed, uptight, loose, fun and funky, and the ones I've loved the most are those that really enjoy playing with the audience; just how it should be - a party!

How does the mic/jam aspect work for those who want to get involved?

Well, you can turn up on the day and speak to one of the team, before we start, to organise a slot for yourself, BUT, if you drop us an email then we can really get something cooking -

The jam is open to musicians who are looking to go into music as a career. Vocalists, instrumentalists and bands - guitarists, bassists, horns, woodwind, kit, bands, keys; if I haven't mentioned your instrument, it's just because I temporarily forgot but all are welcome.

The music ranges from trad jazz to jazz fusion, old soul to neo-soul, funk to groove. You can come with a crew or ride solo. There'll be a list of songs on our Facebook that you can have a look at to help you decide what you'd like to do. Original songs and song charts are welcome too.

Who have been some of your biggest influences in music?

Biggest influence in music? My mum! I grew up in the studios with her. My childhood was filled with music and play! The first song I learned was Ain't Nobody by Chaka Khan. Then there's Michael Jackson, I loved his musical skill and his showmanship! Reggae musicians in general, proper showmen and women. Red hot Chilli Peppers, Miriam Makeba, Jill Scott, Beyoncé, Christina Milian, Celine Dion, Ella Fitzgerald, Buena Vista Social Club, En Vogue, Jade, Etta James - I could go on!

What advice would you give to aspiring musicians who are finding their own sound?

Listen to everything! Don't leave anything out. When you find something you like then listen to everything about it - sound, tone, rhythm, tempo; take it apart and reconstruct it again. Play the riffs you love about it. Practice on your own instrument and then find more. Don't limit yourself to just one genre. Don't worry about trying to play it in the same way, just take it and interpret it in a way that fits yours skills and your chosen instrument.

Appreciate what you can do today and then invest more time and practice the next day and the day after that. That's how you internalise music and make it your own. Then go to concerts! Whether they're big, small, near or far. Live music feeds your soul. It changes the way you feel about things and also allows you to hear the difference between records, engineered and real. The wider your musical knowledge and musical experiences are, the more tools you'll have to build the sound you want.

Remember, your sound is unique. Take what you have and make it the best that it can be - EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Finally, what was the last song you listened to?

Laputa by Hiatus Kayote ft. Anderson Paak. The Taylor McFerrin Remix.