ST Sessions: Spoken-word poetry artist turns singer-songwriter

An original song Shak'thiya Subramaniamm performs in the latest ST Sessions episode is inspired by his sleeping habits

SPH Brightcove Video
A little jazzy, a little bluesy, Shak (Shak'thiya Subramaniam) has a natural gift for music. But it's fear that holds the singer-songwriter back, a fact that he knows he just has to overcome if he is to make music a career.
Shak’thiya Subramaniamm performs either solo or with a band called Shak And The Baits. PHOTO: ST SESSIONS

Aspiring singer-songwriter Shak'thiya Subramaniamm's early stage performances were not always about music.

His roots lie in spoken word poetry.

One day, he tried singing and was so touched by the audience's response that he has not looked back since.

"I played a song. This person from the audience, after I was done, came up to me, gave me a hug and said 'Dude, that was amazing, you should never stop playing'. That was pretty nice."

The 25-year-old, who also goes by the stage name Shak, performs in the fifth episode of the third season of ST Sessions, The Straits Times' online video series featuring rising talents in the home-grown music scene performing stripped-down live sets.

The video can be viewed at

"Just knowing that someone liked my songs, that's good enough for me," he says in the video.

Performing either solo or with a band called Shak And The Baits, he dives into a mix of folk, soul, jazz, blues and hip-hop.

The bachelor is part of the current batch of young and promising talents in the National Arts Council's Noise Singapore Music Mentorship programme.

He has performed at events such as the Singapore Night Festival 2016 and at venues including the Esplanade Concourse.

He plays two original tunes in ST Sessions.

The first, Sleep Talk, was inspired by his sleeping habits.

"There was one night, I was sleeping and apparently I was talking in my sleep. My mum came into my room and saw me. When I woke up, she said, 'Do you know that you talk in your sleep?'"

SPH Brightcove Video
He just wants to be crazy in love. Sleep Talk is about a dream Shak had which brought to mind his wanting to experience that level of emotion at least once in his life.

He did not, but what he remembered was the dream he was having, about him falling in love.

The second song, Funny That Way, is his way of saying that "when bad things happen, just take it and move on".

SPH Brightcove Video
When life gives you lemons, you make a song about hope. At least that's what Shak (Shak'thiya Subramaniam) did with Funny That Way, a folksy tune about moving on despite the bad things that come your way.

ST Sessions' third season is part of a series of digital video programmes under a partnership between the Info-communications Media Development Authority and Singapore Press Holdings.

The new season features eight acts, including singer-songwriter Tim De Cotta and Theodora Lau. A new episode is launched every other Friday.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 03, 2017, with the headline ST Sessions: Spoken-word poetry artist turns singer-songwriter. Subscribe