Each Wednesday, Rocks Off arbitrarily appoints one lucky local performer or group "Artist of the Week," bestowing upon them all the fame and grandeur such a lofty title implies. Know a band or artist that isn't awful? Email their particulars to firstname.lastname@example.org.
With regards to our bubbling electro scene, we're not sure there's anybody better than wonderfully enigmatic Houstonian, by way of St. Louis, Shina Rae. Rae bleeps, boops, bounces and chirps all through her digital landscapes*, periodically stopping off to design a fashion show or lobby folks to sign her "Vote for me to play the ACL Festival" petition.
We nabbed her for a bit to talk about how she may or may not wear a veil while she grocery shops, why you should absolutely vote her past the Top 20 round of ACL's "The Sound and the Jury" competition and how will.i.am straight up told her beforehand that Fergie is little more than a white figurehead.
Shina Rae, "Touch (Hearsay's 64-Bit Remix)"
*This is sort of a simplification. Rae is actually way more diverse-sounding than we make her out to be, but she wears a lot of bright colors so we lump her into the electro category.
Rocks Off: For some reason, you seem like a very mysterious chick. Like, just listening to your music or checking you out online we'd assume that you did all types of mysterious girl stuff like wear a veil when you go grocery shopping or listen to really obscure old hip-hop or steal for no reason. Is any of that true?
Shina Rae: Wow. [laughs] Well, at least one of those things is true, but I'm not gonna tell you which one [laughs].
Shina Rae, "Touch (Fixture Remix)"
RO: It seems like every 14 minutes we get some type of "Vote Shina Rae to Play ACL" update sent to us. Can you explain exactly what that is, how you got involved and how people can vote?
SR: Every 14 minutes huh? You must not follow all my networks [laughs]. Actually, these hopefully witty, possibly mysterious updates are about a contest to play Austin City Limits on the Dell Stage. Its going on now - right now!
I got in it by a first round of voting - thank you everyday voters - and now we've been narrowed down to the top 20. There's more voting, so we are basically asking, encouraging and coercing everyone within ears, arms or fingers reach to go here
[and] vote every day for us to play at this amazing festival. I know a lot of Houston will go, so I think it would be really fun to come see someone you voted for playing. Don't you?
In case you're wondering, "we" is myself, Crystal Lee, my bad-w-tha-a hype girl, and Jaycee, our Marty McFly DJ. Also, we have been working with a couple dancers for the show too!
Shina Rae, "Bitch Switch'd"
RO: Your song "Lightning Strikes" is so, so good. Are you ever going to do more stuff like that? It just felt like an important song when we heard it, ya know.
SR: Thank you so much. Yes, I definitely will. I do all kinds of music - I have tracks, but I also will hit an a cappella at a show.
With songs like "Lightning Strikes," it really is a matter of finding the right person to work with. Not every producer can let a song with lyrics like that just be simple and organic. A lot of producers are so concerned with it being "their" song that they can let good lyrics, or a good message even, get lost in too many sounds or effects.
That song is so pure, it still gives me chills and reminds me of the calm night when all of that dry lightning was just lighting up the sky! It doesn't need a bunch of crashes and bangs illustrating lightning, just use your imagination; bass, me, a bit of trumpet & steel drum, and your imagination. That's solid. Traey did a phenomenal job on that song.
RO: For real, how much do you want to be Fergie? I'm just asking because "Touch" sounds exactly like something she'd do. FYI, we've got our fingers crossed that your answer is something along the lines of "Fuck off."
SR: I actually do kind of sometimes like her music occasionally, on a good drunken night, three hours deep on the dance floor, but I am generally offended by the comparison; that and me to M.I.A.
Does Fergie even write her own lyrics? Does she do anything but show up to the recording studio, press events and shows, sometimes forgetting to pee first? I am an incredibly diverse artist in all aspects, not just music. I am much more than a white girl's face added to a black hip-hop group's fight to cross over. I mean, will.i.am and I talked about that over a year before they added her. They were looking for someone to "play the part." I could not do that. I am way too original for that.
Shina Rae, "Forget It"
RO: Wait, wait, wait. Are you being serious?
SR: Oh yeah. When I first moved here, Black Eyed Peas were playing with the X-ecutioners. My cousin was trying to be all groupie or whatever so I ended up going back to their hotel and just sat around and talked to them for a while. It was in their plan that their needed a white girl to make their group more commercially appealing.
Shina Rae, "Threefold"
You've got little more than a week to vote Shina Rae into ACL so hop to, playas. See Shina's weekly fashion show Saturdays at Dean's Credit Clothing and Noise Thursdays at Escobar. Friend her online at www.shinarae.com and follow her on Twitter at @shinarae.