with FHM United Kingdom September 2023 cover star Shab / @shabmusicofficial
Photographer Edward Aninaru / @edward_aninaru
Such an absolute honor to have you! And this whole feature has been both an honor and a complete surprise for me! Never did I imagine when I was a little girl growing up in Tehran and central Germany that I today would be a pop singer, much less doing beautiful features in a magazine like FHM!
How do you like to begin your day? Well… I am not naturally an early riser; but I have adopted the good habit of my guy, Rob, by rising early so that I can fit everything into my day. By 6:00 a.m., we are most days both typically in the gym – for me, four times weekly with my trainer — having what is often my first workout for the day. The workout gives me energy and a sense of accomplishment before waking the kids and readying them for their own days. Thereafter, I drink a glass of lemon water to refresh myself and then start making breakfast smoothies for the family.
What’s the most exciting hobby or interest you’ve pursued recently, and how did you get into it? I know that this is going to seem a boring answer, but my life is so full between my home life, family and work commitments, and the little time that we have for fooling around with our circle of friends that I really don’t have time to take up leisure hobbies. In fact, my days are so full that one of my biggest challenges is to have sufficient alone time with Rob (who is also incredibly busy). But I have started to learn a bit of guitar… so while a career element rather than a hobby, I guess that it counts for something!
If you could spend a day doing anything you wanted, what would your ideal day look like? My life is blessed such that my everyday routine is occupied with the things that I love to do. I awake and go immediately into exercise and stretching, but then turn my attention to my kids. I then spend time on voice or movement training for otherwise sitting down with my Shab Squad members — producer/manager Damon Sharpe, Music Director Mike Manning, Creative Director Richy Jackson, video director Eli Sokhn, and others – to plan our next moves. Throughout that career building, I got to engage every day with Rob, who is central to my team and my last line of defense. During the late afternoon, my attention turns to the kids and we perhaps get a little pool time in hot and sunny Dallas. And if I’m lucky, I get to go out on a late-night date with my man, whether alone or together with dear friends. So frankly, the only way that you can improve the landscape is to enjoy all those elements while on a great big group beachside working vacation – but that aside, my life could not be more fulfilled than at present.
What’s a project or goal you’re currently working on that you’re really excited about? There are actually two things that I’m working on right now that really excite me. First, I am going to be performing in my first arena tour in the British Isles during October & November of 2023 as the opening act for the British legacy boyband JLS. JLS has a remarkable fan base and sold 350,000 tickets for the tour in a matter of days post-announcement. And here I have a shortlist in my head of the arenas that I’ve always wanted to play: and The O2 in London was towards the very top of the list! secondly, I’ve also been working on my next album, the working name of which I have changed to One Suitcase to echo exactly what I was carrying with all of my possessions when I arrived in the United States as a 14-year-old girl who spoke in English. I changed the name of the album to highlight the reality that, in an open society with free enterprise, people can come from meager means and still pursue one’s dreams. Within this album, you will soon hear a new sound from me: both in the tunes that I’ve worked with Damon, my longtime producer, and collaborator, but also with a new producer duo with whom I have also been writing some songs, my dear galpal Naz Tokio & Eric Zayne.
What’s the most memorable date you’ve ever been on, and what made it stand out? That’s easy. Early in our relationship, I had a date with the love of my life, Rob, who is also an accomplished pilot with several planes. He surprised me with a couple of hours of notice and a quick getaway by flying me the short trip from Dallas down to Austin so that he could explain that wonderful city where he went to graduate school. It was meaningful and touching that he wanted me to see certain formative and terrifically funky elements of his early adulthood so that I could understand from where he was coming. His openness and the manner in which he casually revealed aspects of his incredibly accomplished life served to absolutely bond my growing love for him. (Plus I can still tell you what the ceiling and the flooring of that hotel suite look like, if you get my drift!)
Are there any qualities or traits you find particularly attractive in a partner? What do you value the most? I’m greatly attracted to authenticity in men. It goes without saying that I demand loyalty, transparency, and honesty above all else. Intelligence, confidence, openness, and an adventuresome nature for me are complete Panty Droppers. And physical attraction is always an unimportant element in any relationship, as it is part of the glue that keeps lovers together during challenging stretches. So when you see me in a committed, long-term relationship, you don’t even have to ask if his good in bed!
Who has been your biggest inspiration or role model in your personal or professional life? I have a lot of career role models – here, J-Lo, Madonna & Beyonce most immediately come to mind as well as Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande, Dua Lipa & Rita Ora of the next generation. Importantly, I don’t think that people outside of the industry can appreciate how hard these women have had to work in their careers. But I am on record as the two biggest inspirations in my life being my mother and my guy, Rob. My mother came to the United States from Iran as a widow in her forties, with thirteen children, no real English ability, and with almost all familial wherewithal looted by the gangster regime in Teheran. Yet she worked night and day in America to provide for our family while raising thirteen fairly well-adjusted and productive kids. It was my mother who made me understand that through hard work and perseverance, almost anything is possible. On the other hand, Rob — who is widely recognized as a brilliant, inventive, and determined guy — has made me understand so much about how the world works and the reasons why people succeed in life. Plus, he and my mother share that same ethic in that it is not realistically possible to outwork either one of them!
What do you enjoy most about your hobbies or interests outside of work? I am hoping to have enough time during 2024 to take up flying so that I can co-pilot along with Rob. He also has introduced me to scuba diving during the last two years and it is an activity that I deeply enjoy.
How do you find a balance between your personal life and your career? Just like every working parent who is devoted to their family, I can struggle in this regard at times. It is especially difficult when I must be on tour overseas for multiple weeks at a time. Our family vacation this summer was my second music tour of the United Kingdom! However, back in Dallas, I have tons of family help as well as nannies to share the load on kid duties. So for me, the real question is as to how single and devoted moms – the vast majority of which don’t have my support system — achieve such a balance in their lives. In my mind, these Working Mothers are both magicians and true heroes.
How do you stay motivated and overcome challenges in your work? Again, I have learned a lot here from Rob, who has lectured in business schools across the United States on team culture. Across his commercial ventures, he has instilled a philosophy that basically recognizes that both within the workplace and daily life, reduces our lives to a series of assembly lines of individual problems to be solved. I have very much taken this philosophy to heart, learning to work problems without personal predispositions – or as much as I am able – with an open mind and a firm commitment to the directive that the best answers should win. Most of all, anyone who would lead must also always be willing to serve: and one of our team mantras is Wash Some Feet. And in every situation where Rob or I have put these precepts into place, it seems to almost always set a mood for a team effort that breeds unanimity, fellowship & trust. And when everyone is rowing the boat in the same direction, one gets great confidence that we will conjure excellent results. Keep moving forward and JUST DO IT!
Where can our readers catch up with you and stay updated with your work? Probably the two best places to follow my world are my fabulous official website – no surprise that it’s www.shabofficial.com, for which I take zero credit – as well as my Instagram account, which is @shabmusicofficial. Particularly on my Instagram account, we try hard to chronicle the reality of my work trips as well as some of our family life in Dallas and elsewhere … so it’s easy to follow my adventures there.