Blending an array of art forms, Oakland-based Zakiya Harris who operates under the name The Sh8peshifter projects her ethos of empowerment and wellness with everything she does. Today, Impose is happy to be premiering her latest single “Runaway” along with an in-depth interview with the artist.
On the track, The Sh8peshifter soars above driving rhythms and wild guitar-lines evoking fellow multi-faceted artist Janelle Monae in the process. It’s an infectious track that packs plenty of punch.
Stream The Sh8peshifter’s “Runaway” below and look for more from the artist here.
How did you first get into writing and performing music?
I have been performing since I was a child. I was that talent show girl in elementary school, constantly, putting dance routines together with the homies. For fun, I used to freestyling raps to Too-Short’s freaky tales and performed in school and church choirs. Since a young child, I have always found solace through writing in my journal. Whether I was writing poetry or just my truth, journal writing has always been part of my self-care practice. To this day, my music is often the culmination of my joys, my triumphs and my fears at any given time in my life.
What is “Runaway” about? How did inspiration first strike?
“Runaway” began, like most tunes with an infectious beat. I love fusing my rock-inspired rhythms with heavy drums. Once I heard the music, the lyrics just came thru my soul. The song is about movement, fluidity and flexibility. It is a reminder to stay agile and not get stuck. I think sometimes we normalize suffering and don’t realize our own agency in what we have to put up with. There is a time to fight and a time to run away. Running doesn’t have to mean giving up, it can actually be a source of freedom.
Tell us more about what it means to be a Shapeshifter.
Sh8peshifting to me means being like water. Water makes up the majority of our planet, the majority of our human bodies. Water is feminine in nature, it is creative and flexible. Water can take the shape of any container and always finds its own momentum. We are living in a time on the planet where we need to tap into our own inner “Sh8peshifter” get out of our rigid, linear boxes and accept the flow. Sh8peshifting is a practice and a way of life.
As a multi-faceted artist, how does your work intersect with being a student and teacher of wellness?
As a mother, performing artist, startup entrepreneur and consultant people always used to ask me. How I balanced it all. How did I manage the challenges of losing my home to foreclosure, ending my marriage, laying off my entire staff and navigating life as a single parent? The answer is simple. I put in work. Not the type of work that pays you in money, the type that pays you in self-love. I spent a lot of time, energy and resources bouncing back from that experience and healing my own personal childhood trauma. Although I still have ups and downs I can honestly say that I have faced my demons and emerged the victor. I decided to share what I learned with others and it has been the best decision of my life. I get to wake up every day and bring my gifts to the world. You can learn more about my books, workshops and life coaching services at sh8peshiftyourlife.
How do you incorporate dance and theater into your performances?
I have had the opportunity to work with some incredible dance theater artists including Ase Dance Theater Collective and Deep Waters Dance. Working under the direction of these companies, being part of productions where I had to dance, sing and act simultaneously definitely “rubbed off” on my solo music work. I learned how to incorporate more audience engagement, visual and 3-dimensional elements into a show. I learned that a show can be more than a performance, that it can be a ritual and heal people. That is what I strive for now. I am not interested in entertaining anymore.
What would you like listeners to take away from “Runaway?”
Ultimately, I would like listeners to be inspired to find the place in their lives, where they can give themselves permission to leave, pivot, go in a different direction. Try something new. Leave the past behind and run away.