From the shores of Lima in the Pacific Ocean, Leslie Shaw poses for Hybris Magazine through the lens of our good friend and collaborator Rene Funk. Leslie Shaw is a Peruvian singer currently based in Miami who has made her way successfully in the urban musical genre. With a career of more than a decade, she will undoubtedly become a great international star soon. Her talent, charisma and sensuality are conquering fans all over the world. Leslie has earned the privilege of absolute creative freedom and she express her gratitude for it by delivering quality, love and originality through her music. Today it has been the occasion to show the most provocative and epicurean side of her, nobody can stop her, Leslie Shaw has definitely come to stay.
Leslie, your musical career has not been easy, you have reinvented yourself from Pop music, through Rock and now Reggaeton and Urban music. How has this journey of searching for your identity been?
Yes, it hasn't been easy but when something gets into my head I don't stop until I really do it my way. When I was still at school, I wanted to record an album no matter what, I mean, I wasn't thinking “ah I want to be famous”, no, I just wanted to make music, all my life I've made music since I was very little because my older sister sings, my dad plays the piano, there were always parties at my house, my sister had many musician friends and I always wanted to sing and have the microphone. It was something that really made me feel like butterflies in my stomach, from a very young age I had a lot of emotion when I sang. I listened a lot to Aerosmith, The Offspring, Blink 182, Queen, Rock not so metal, also Punk, Avril Lavingne, Linkin Park and instead my friends listened to Britney Spears, Cristina Aguilera and I didn't, so when I left school at 16 I recorded my first rock album but before that I was in a group of girls… they called me because one of them wanted to create a group but none of them sang so they needed at least one who really sang so the others could dance, I don't know hahaha, besides it was a pop project and at that time in my life I didn't like pop, I listened to it but it wasn't something I wanted to do, however I was there… well because they called me.
This whole path has been a transition, so when I used to do rock I loved it, my references were those, I started to writing, I had a producer friend who was also a rocker and we did about 6 songs, so I was super stubborn with rock and at that time, rock wasn't heard much at least in Peru, right? I mean, there were rock festivals, but they were rock bands that had a long professional career, that already had the whole public, so someone of my age who was a rocker was very difficult for me to make a place for myself and also because I was a woman. They called me for festivals but I always opened the festivals. In my live shows I had very good musicians who were obviously much older than me and it seemed unfair not to have the same opportunities as other bands that were all men and they could play at prime time, it was frustrating.
I think it was because I was a woman, they didn't play my music on the radio and I felt that there were many things against me, however I was rotating in the 10 most requested of MTV Latin America and in Peru nobody knew it. I had fans who wrote to me back then, there was no instagram but I had “My Space” and they wrote to me anyway, they also found a way to go to my concerts and carry banners. That encouraged me to continue doing rock music for 9 years until a moment came when many friends told me “don't be stubborn, why don't you try it? Why don't you try another genre? other alternatives” then I said “no, I like rock!”. I got tired of trying and I went to study marketing, then somebody called me to be the host of a radio program where they played electropop music and in the front radio booth there was urban music all day long, we listened to Don Omar, Ozuna, Daddy Yankee, Tego Calderón, and go, go the same songs and I made friends with the programmers who told me "but Leslie there isn't a woman who does urban, why don't you try?" then I felt super sad, I felt that marketing was not something that fulfilled me, I had no motivation, my routine was; Monday to Friday on the radio, studying and the weekend, sleeping and eating, being a super boring year for me until I decided to start making urban music and I don't know, I felt that passion again, the love of my fans, on the radio they started putting my music on because as I became friends with the programmers they helped me with that and people really liked it. The numbers on my platforms on Spotify and YouTube were incredible that even I couldn't believe them, I said "wow!" Then I realized that this was my path, that what I really like is music and I don't mind having to mutate, rediscover myself or have to stop to find myself as long as I continue making music, which is what I love to do.
Currently, how is your musical creative process? from writing the lyrics to music production. What inspires you?
I really like meeting with different producers, I feel that each producer has a very particular style. I don't like to work with only one producer but I like to experiment and work with different producers. Normally we go to the studio and they start to make me listen to tracks that they are suddenly working on beforehand or they start making some sound right there with me and I tell them “that one yes, that one no, that way it goes, no that way no” and on that I start releasing melodies into the mic and once I have the melodies I start writing. There are times when I get inspired by seeing other artists or hearing something on the radio and I said “wow! How cool does this sound” or a guitar or a bass and I try to send those references that at some point I heard in my day to day to the producer with whom I choose about that sound that I heard can go well and we make a “transformer” of that.
"Before, I didn't realize it, but my producer friends and at the record company where I was, they always highlighted my tone of voice and told me that my voice was very particular. As an artist I feel unique, I feel that I am always faithful to what I want to do, when I want to do it and I do it. I respect my ideals, my compositions and the songs that I want to release. I have never followed a prototype, I have never been guided by that and I think that being original has been what has differentiated me from other artists."
You had the opportunity to create a song with Thalía and Farina. How was that experience of working with such famous artists?
It was really incredible and that is one of the things that I like about the urban genre, that the artists give and receive mutual aid, right? You don't see that much in other genres and I think it's important to do these collaborations because, well, as you know Thalía has a lifelong audience that follows her, she has an incredible amount of fans and Farina too, she is a Colombian rapper, I really like the way she writes, she has a lot of personality, so working with them has been like a learning. I was able to see Thalía how she worked with her team, how she cares a lot about the stylist, about the lighting, about all the details that sometimes one says no. An artist must be aware of absolutely everything and not delegate things to others because in the end one is who faces the consequences and I have learned that from her at that time that it had a great impact on me when I saw her working. I really like how Farina works in the studio when she writes her songs by herself. They are both very talented artists who inspire me and obviously working with them was incredible and also I was super nervous because since I was little I also watched all the "Marías" (Thalía's soap operas) and thought "I don't know, am I going to get on well with her? or the opposite? Or is Thalia going to talk to me or is she not going to talk to me?", the truth is that she was a love, she was always affectionate with me and with Farina. I knew Farina from before, we met at a music festival and I approached her and introduced myself and told her “I want to make music with you”, we exchanged contacts and it was super cool. Instead, with Thalía, it was a proposal from the record company, when they told me, “Leslie, would you like to do a song with Thalía?” and I said “wow! of course yes, you shouldn't even ask me that” because she is an iconic woman in Latin America. Finally, it has been a very nice opportunity that has presented in my career.
Lately several celebrities are choosing to have an Onlyfans' account. How has it been to overcome prejudices about selling provocative photographic content? Finally, in this contemporary world, each and every one of us must sell something, it could be our time in a company, our mind, our art, some product, etc..
I made the decision to open an Onlyfans' account after all my concerts were canceled in 2020. For me, my concerts meant the only income I had. I have always taken the money from my concerts to invest in my career, in my video clips, in paying for studio hours, in wardrobe, etc. So when all my concerts were canceled and I was going to release an album on those dates I didn't want to live without a fixed monthly income, because I had a rhythm of life where I already spent heavily on my music, on myself and added to living in another country. I did maths in my head about my expenses and said no, I already knew, I had a hunch that this pandemic issue was going to last for years, when government just closed the borders many people thought; "No, this is going to be two months" but I felt and said "this is going to last a long time and I am not going to wait for a miracle to happen without generating anything". I saw that Cardi B opened her Onlyfans' account too, from there I saw another artist and I said well I also have my fans who love me a lot in Peru, new fans in Mexico, now I'm going to release my album and I'm going to have more fans elsewhere of the world. I'm always uploading sexy photos, I have many photographer friends who I'm sure will love photographing me, so I stopped posting sexy photos on my instagram and now all my sexy photos go to Onlyfans. I train a lot, I love my body, I love my tattoos, I feel super sexy so why not use it for myself, right?.
How would you describe the current music scene in Peru and how do you feel the atmosphere in Latin America?
I'm going to Peru very often and I feel that there are a lot of young people making urban music who suddenly don't have everything they could need. Because they are very talented people but I feel that they have to bet more on themselves. I feel like a new breed is going to come out soon, a new generation of incredible Peruvian urban artists who compose, rappers, who do trap. There are many women in Peru who are making urban music and I am happy. There is also a lot of salsa, a lot of cumbia, many rock festivals but there aren't urban festivals in Peru yet, of urban artists, there are always festivals where Farruko, Jay Balvin, Daddy Yankee come and there are never Peruvians on the billboard. I was on the billboards but as a support artist then it's important to think about those big festivals in Peru, they always bring great and good artists, those artists are the main ones but I think that if more national artists come out there will be more festivals of national artists as well as cumbia, salsa, right?… I hope.
What are your favorite music albums?
I love Queen's disc "Greatest Hits", also "Get a grip" by Aerosmith and "Jagged little pill" by Alanis Morissette, I love this latest album.
What is your favorite movie?
I really like blood and gore, I like Quentin Tarantino's movies, I like "Kill Bill" which is a classic and another, "Django Unchained”.
What did last year mean to you and what are your plans for 2022?
Last year was a year of making decisions and the reins of what I wanted for my future, because I felt that I was surrounded by many toxic people who didn't let me feel free in my career. I decided to get rid of all these people who brought negativity into my life, but suddenly they were people who influenced my work but I stopped being afraid, stopped beating around the bush and pushed those people away. I took the reins 100% of my career and I don't regret it, I think it was the best decision and now I feel at peace, I work at my own pace and calm. Apart from the fact that last year I wrote a lot of music as a result of the pandemic. I used to have concerts, I don't know, I was always on the move and the pandemic forced me to stop and write more music and I have written many songs that I hope will come out this year, three already came out last year of the ones I wrote and this year more are coming out. I am also writing for other artists, I never thought of doing it, I always thought of writing for myself, I don't know, but they are calling me to do it and I hope those artist projects come out soon. I want to continue taking risks about new sounds, last year I released an electrohouse song that nobody expected in Peru but I love to change, experiment and I want to continue doing it. Suddenly I would like to make more video clips in other countries, last year I made a video clip in the city of Medellin, Colombia, this year I don't know, my career is very unpredictable, one day they tell me "tomorrow we are going to sing in Europe", so I don't have so planned, what I want to continue doing is music no matter what.
What powers or tools do you think female beauty gives you?
Sensuality and mischievousness. I use that a lot so that my producer friends let me stay in the studio until very late, I always use it to my advantage. I don't know, I feel that cause I'm Peruvian and there aren't many Peruvian artists and most of the producers I work with are from Puerto Rico, they like the way I speak, they say I sound docile but I think it's because of the Lima accent I have, so I speak nicely to them and I take advantage of that so that they let me make music for a longer time in the studio.
What elements do you think are essential to succeed in today's world?
I feel that still a long way to go to say “ah! I have triumphed” I feel that I have much more to learn and to go through. I want to do many more things but even so I feel very satisfied and very good because I am doing from Monday to Monday what I really love, which is music. Maybe if I would had given up at that stage and wouldn't have gone back to music, which is what I loved, I wouldn't feel fulfilled making art. I don't care if another pandemic comes and there are no concerts anymore... I always put myself in the worst, what moves me is what I love, or writing music or I don't know, I will always be related to music and that's what it will keep me happy.
Is there something you regret?
Yes, many things, many boyfriends, hahaha. There are times that I regret not have left my comfort zone earlier, I feel like I spent a lot of time in Peru going across within my country, singing in many places when I already had the proposals to go out and for fear of the unknown I didn't go out, in other words , the pandemic had to come to really stayed in the United States, open my eyes and realize that here the opportunities for the genre of music that I am doing now are suddenly bigger, there are much more producers and many artists like me too looking for a place, shaking hands and collaborating. I feel that suddenly if I had dared before now I would be in another position I don't know, I always think about what would have happened if I would have had the courage before, but things happen for a reason and I have also learned from that.
What does making mistakes mean to you?
Making mistakes means learning. I believe that if I don't accept my mistakes I won't evolve, neither as a person nor as an artist. I have also trusted in other people a lot, it's ok, now I have learned to be more careful, not to be so naive. I always try to learn from mistakes.
What would you like to change about the music industry?
The prejudices, I feel that there is a lot of prejudice, such as "she has tattoos so she is bad, why do her lyrics say that? or she's blonde so she's dumb, she has a nice body but she doesn't eat". There is always a lot of prejudice and not only in music industry but I think that in everything, I would like to remove that prejudice and really, to the new artist, the artists in general, always give them the opportunity to show their art without first putting up that barrier of prejudice in front of them because I feel that takes away many opportunities from new artists.
"I always dream of doing a song with Bad Bunny or with J Balvin, with both of them. I always ask for that when I have to blow out the candles on my birthday."
What would you say to those who start in the world of music?
That they have to work hard and that miracles don't happen. I feel that there are a lot of young people who know they have talent, who know they have good ideas, but they sit at home waiting for a manager to come and discover them. The best advice I can give you is not to think that someone is going to come and take you out and discover you. I think the best thing is to work, insist and make good music, search, always be original, not copy other artists and a lot of work, a lot.
Apart from music and dance, what else are you passionate about doing?
Oh, I don't know, my life is my music… I like to be with my dogs. I need, no matter what, "dog love", I always make a stop in my days or in my mornings or in the afternoons to hug my dogs, to give them love, walk and go for a walk with them.
What is your daily routine?
Well, my life is a bit crazy, trips like this come out of nowhere, but when I'm calm at home I don't wake up early, I'll wake up for example at 10 am, I'll have a coffee, I'll play with my dogs in the yard a while. I really like listening to music in the mornings, I listen to a lot of music, I listen to the top 50 Latin America, knowing what is being heard in other countries is good to update myself a little. I also listen to the songs I've made, I also start looking for bits on Youtube in case I hear something interesting, I talk to my manager to find out if there are concerts or any meetings. In the afternoon I go to the gym and in the evenings I go to the studio. I like to make music at night, I feel that ideas come out more and I stay until 3 am, 2 am in the studio.
How was the experience of having worked with René Funk in this Editorial?
Super cool, a few years ago with Rene we took some photos for some bikinis and honestly, I hadn't taken photos with him for a long time. He is funny and made me feel very comfortable, because there are photographers who are annoying and sometimes intimidating. Really, he was super cool and it seems to me that his work is impeccable, so I was calm that everything was going to turn out spectacular. In this session you will find originality, sensuality, playfulness and a lot of femininity.
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Leslie Shaw

Photographer René Funk
Make-Up Micaela Linares

62 Photographs / High Resolution

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Online editorial

Lima, Peru 2022

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