On our radar: Eliza Shaddad

Eliza Shaddad
(Image credit: Jodie Canwell)

Sudanese-Scottish Eliza Shaddad collaborated with Clean Bandit on track Birch from their 2014 record New Eyes and released her debut solo album Future in 2018 but truly takes flight as a contemporary folk-influenced songwriter and musician on its follow-up The Woman You Want. Released on 16 July, its songs  recall Laura Marling, Joni Mitchell and Julien Baker with the balance of pop melodic sensibility and deep lyricism. 

An endorsee of the UK's own Gordon Smith guitars, Eliza used the GS2 60 on the album, along with a Classic T model she received as a gift. These electric layers mix seamlessly in her music with earthy unplugged tones – the Fender acoustic and Herald classical guitar she used on the album were charity shop finds. 

Eliza told us about her inspirations and the unfortunate fate of her Roland Jazz Chorus amp…

How would you describe your sound to a new listener?

"Confessional ethereal grunge:)"

Which of your songs best represents you and why?

"I’d maybe start with This is My Cue for back catalogue and Blossom for a taste of where the album is headed."

What has inspired the creative process for this album?

"The turmoil of 2020 had a massive part to play in the writing, and the introspection that ensued. I got married just beforehand so that played a part too, and actually very fortunately I wed excellent producer BJ Jackson so when normal studio recording couldn’t go ahead we decided to make it at home and had a huge influence on the creative process." 

What is your favourite musical memory from the album?

"I reckon borrowing a mandolin for Heaven and needing two of us to play it well - me on the strumming and Ben on the chords."

Is there a particular album by another artist that had a big impact on you growing up?

"Tori Amos – Little Earthquakes. My sister and I used to scream sing to this album and it was a huge musical influence and is completely tied into growing up for me."

If you could steal the production from one album/track, which would you take and why?

"Maybe Dreams by Fleetwood Mac. It’s so crisp and succinct and powerful and sounds so freaking beautiful on a huge sound system."

Do you have any go-to gear for songwriting and demoing ideas and why is it important to you?

"I write on guitar pretty much always – the simpler the set up the stronger the song I tend to find, then I use Logic and generally do everything in the box for demos just to get the ideas down quickly."

What instrument or piece of gear would you like to get next and why?

"Well I bought a '90s Roland JC-120 about a year ago and within a month it got wrecked by a drunk driver so I’ve got my eye on fixing that up next."

Eliza Shaddad

(Image credit: Flore Diamant)

Where would you like to take your sound next? 

"I’ve been leaning more into Sudanese inspirations over the last year so I’d love to bring that in more in future"

Eliza Shaddad's The Woman You Want out 16 July 2021 via Rosemundy Records/Wow and Flutter. For more info visit elizashaddad.com

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.