Shai

The Wonderful World of Shai Ben-David [Exclusive Interview]

Featured photo of Shai taken by SimplyG. Written by: Alyssa Minnec and Delainey Rab.

Shai Women's Month Interview
Shai backstage

March is Women’s History Month and we are highlighting just a few of the resilient, admirable, and irreplaceable women who are a part of the music industry we love. This week, we introduce you to Shailee Ben-David, better known as Shai.

In our eyes, this passionate woman can do it all. From managing Player Dave, artist relations at Audius, merchandise management for Ivy Lab, and of course, running her own clothing brand, Archangel, Shai has us blown away. We got to chat with her about her experience as a woman in the industry and the conversation left us inspired as ever!

Delainey, Electric Hawk: So, you currently do a ton of different things in the industry. How did everything start?

Shai: So basically, because of the pandemic, I kind of had to redirect what I was doing with my career—obviously live events stopped. A good friend of mine, who I used to work with at OWSLA, is the head of partnerships at Audius. They were looking to bring someone on to onboard more artists. He said, “You have a great network, especially with bass music—which I don’t have, so why don’t you come help?” This got me involved with Audius, introducing people to the platform. Then after a couple of months, it just made sense for me to stay! Now I’m there full time doing pretty much all artist relations, artist onboarding, creative strategy for anything artist-related on the platform, and I also help them run their social media.

I started managing Player Dave (PD) a couple of months ago. We have always been friends—we met through Charles a year and a half ago. I think he makes amazing music. Later on, he was looking for new management, I was like, “I’ll help you, I don’t really do management stuff, but I love your project,” and it ended up naturally flowing into us really working well together. His new album coming out is the first project we’ve done together! He is the only person I’m currently managing.

And then, I do all of Ivy Lab and their label’s merch! If anyone ever needs consulting help, I help them because I started making merch for my own brand, so I learned the ins and outs of merch companies. I realized there shouldn’t be this middleman if you can do everything. I want whoever’s merch it is to earn the most money for their work!

Alyssa, Electric Hawk: What moment pushed you to do what you do today? Is there anyone specific or a defining moment that helped you get to where you are?

Shai: Yeah! There are actually two people that were super important. The first is Crizzly. I met Chris when I was like 18 and he was just such a nice friend to me. Every time I was with him he introduced me to everyone and he was always like “She wants to work in music, she’s going to do so well, she’s so dope.” I am so grateful to him for the way he spoke about me to other people. He was so kind, genuine, and respectful—which is very rare. He really paved the way for me from being just a raver to someone who wanted to work in music. Chris is someone I will always adore because he really vouched for me.

Shai and Tony Merino
Shai with G Jones & Tony, by @treevalds

And, Tony Merino, my old boss at Bassrush, believed in me so much harder than anyone ever has. I was really young working in music, he pushed so hard for me and my ideas, he trusted my gut, but he’d also put me in my place. Tony will always be a partner to me! I think even 10 years from now we’ll be doing something together. That is the one person I think I will always work with because he rides for me the same way I ride for him.

Delainey: So bouncing off that, you were a brand specialist for Bassrush, what brought you to move on from their team? Was it due to COVID or were you ready to move on?

Shai: Yeah, I think the real big jump from working at Insomniac/Bassrush to working at Audius was live events came to an end, and pretty much everyone lost their jobs. I wanted to find a way to still be involved in music and find a purpose. I was doing contracting work with Audius for a bit and I ended up being so passionate about the mission of Audius, I wanted to do it full time.

Alyssa: What’s your day-to-day like now, as opposed to what it was before COVID/working for Bassrush? When you wake up in the morning, what do you do?

Shai: I’m a really routine based person now since COVID. I was always the type of person that was doing a million things at once—I still am, but I didn’t have a set routine before. I was working shows, then would bartend, then I’d wake up at 10am, roll into the office, then go work again… and I just never slept. Now I have to wake up at 7 in the morning! I won’t look at my phone, I walk my dog, go get coffee, sit down, light some sage, maybe read a bit, then I start the rest of my day. This has helped me so much when it comes to my mental health. COVID was like “you really need to have a routine.” So, I’ll do my Audius meetings, dabble with stuff for PD, and then I usually end my day doing merch management stuff.

Alyssa: Is Audius doing well?

Shai: Yes!! We just hit 3 million monthly users, we have awesome people like Dillion Francis, Alina Baraz, Skrillex. Audius is really going to change the music industry.

Not only is Shai multifaceted in the music industry, but she’s trailblazing in the fashion world, too.

Delainey: I’m curious about Archangel—when did the ideas start blossoming? Was this something that formed last year or has it been in the works for some time now?

Shai: It started around 2019 actually. My best friend from home passed away in a car accident. I think that everyone is on this earth to reach their full potential. Some people are taken a lot sooner than others and that is because they did what they were meant to do here. With how important he was in my life and how much he taught me, I understood why he left so soon. And for me to process that, I looked into people passing, reaching your highest purpose, and becoming an angel. I found that an archangel is the highest form of an angel, so going along with humans reaching their highest purpose, I just loved it. It’s also weird because my favorite Burial song—that is the reason I even want to work in dance music, is called “Archangel,” so it all really ties together.

I got it tattooed on me in this mixed gothic font. Then I thought, “Oh I’d put this on a crewneck.” I love crewnecks, so I made myself one. Someone told me they’d buy one, so I made 200 and lost money selling them. Then people started asking me to do hoodies and sweatpants. I realized I wanted to make quality fashion, so I spent most of quarantine figuring out that process. How to find the right garments, how to dye them, how to get them embroidered, 1-of-1’s. So eventually I was like, “Wow I’m so passionate about this, and I love sweatpants—everyone loves sweatpants, so why don’t I just make a sick, comfortable, and confident brand!” 

Shai Archangel
Archangel color samples via Instagram

It all ties into this weird meaning of me coping with death through clothes. I want all of my friends to look good and feel comfortable. We’re all at home now, so I wanted to give everyone something comfortable to wear. All of the people who I’ve worked with on the process have been so helpful and nice to me along the way to get the brand to where it is. A lot of people resonate with the meaning of the brand. 

Delainey: Do you think that you will keep making clothes and growing Archangel?

Shai: Yeah I think so! I’ve always loved fashion, so to be able to get more involved and eventually have a really great brand, that’s also sustainable, will be awesome. I’d also love to be able to do 1% For the Planet and donate money, when I get to the point where I’m not just doing it for myself. I just want to make clothes that are comfortable, cute, and help the world in any way they can!

Now, let’s talk on being a badass woman!

Alyssa: Considering everything you do in an industry mostly dominated by men, have you had any challenges as a woman in the industry?

Shai: Yeah. I think that when getting started in music, for the first 2-3 years, it was really hard to separate myself from being just a “rave girl” with good taste in music to someone who was professional. I think that a lot of people really judge (especially in LA) who you are, who you are friends with, and who you know. They will think the worst just by your association, like “Oh, she only got her job because she knows this guy.” That was something that threw me off when I was 19. I really had to work hard to be professional and make a name for myself. That’s why when I see younger girls who are trying to get involved in music, I want to do everything I can to let them do that and support them.

Even if they are working the door at a show or writing for a blog, I want to celebrate that. It was so hard for me to start in music, but I think that now, we’re in a time where it’s different. I think that the girls in my generation who have been working in music have experienced all of that, so we are going to do everything we can to make sure that that doesn’t happen to the girls starting out in the industry. Misogyny is everywhere and it’s never going to change, but as long as we can teach the younger generation to uplift women in a proper way, then hopefully they will carry that on to the next ones and we will have a strong core of girls just kicking ass in the music industry.

I think I learned this really young— it doesn’t matter who you are and what you do, but just be a good person. It doesn’t matter if someone is managing the biggest pop star or is buying a GA ticket to a show. Treat that person with respect, because you would want to be treated that way. It has to be reciprocated. 

Delainey: Do you have any advice to give to other women who have been in a situation like that, or girls who feel they aren’t getting taken seriously while on their come-up?

Shai: I think it’s just very important to be confident and to trust yourself and know that you are doing everything that you’re doing for the passion and the right reasons. Right? Your work will show that. If you’re a good person and really confident and you trust your work, you will do great. I think that’s so important, because if you don’t trust yourself, then how is anyone else going to trust you? It doesn’t matter what you do. As long as you know what you do and you want to do something, you can accomplish that!

The best thing about music is that none of us know what we’re doing! We’re all learning along the way. You have to remind yourself that we’re doing this because we’re so passionate about it, and that is so important. Having a good group of people that love and support you and care for you is really important, too. Life is so crazy, and I’m always taken back by the position that I’m in. 

Alyssa: How do you think you’ve grown as an individual and as a woman since starting in the music industry and throughout last year?

Shai: Oh wow, I’ve learned a lot about boundaries. I tell everyone about boundaries and how they are important. I’ve learned a lot about loving and trusting myself. You know, when everything is taken away from you like the music industry shutting down, I lost everything. I think that making sure that I had myself there for me, was really important. I did a lot of work on myself, a lot of therapy. But not everyone is able to access therapy, so I’ve gotten so many people linked with MusicCares, which I’m really passionate about. Really, just focusing on mental health and myself has helped me grow overall as a person. I’ve done so much better at my job because I’ve learned how to create boundaries for myself. 

Alyssa: What is something you would go back and tell your past self?

Shai: I’d say, love yourself girl. You need to love all of you, stop being so hard on yourself, and stop comparing yourself to other girls and what they’re doing. Stop comparing yourself to other people having certain jobs. That’s not going to do anything for you. You only see one side on social media, right? So you have to just focus on you and you’ll do great. You’re not going to be able to love anyone if you don’t love yourself!

Women uplifting women!

Delainey: Any young women in the industry that you have your eyes on? Anyone making moves or creating a better space for women?

Shai: I think that Kendall Milo is. I met her when she was really young, and she started working for live events. I always told her, if I could hire you right now I would! She is a perfect example of someone who uplifts other women and is so passionate about music at the same time. I think she’s a really special person and that she’s just going to crush it.

I also think that Brianna, who works with you guys, has this really awesome energy and the way that she supports anything on social media, whether she knows a person or not, gets me really excited. She’s a really great example of gassing up your friends and really supporting one another. I’m really excited to see Kendall and Bri grow!

There’s also this girl Melissa Borg, who’s not as active on social media. I had hired her as a PA and I think that she’s also going to crush it in the music industry. She just cares so much about the people she works with and the music that she works in and I’m really excited to see her grow too. I’m always here for women to reach out to, to ask questions, or if you just need someone to talk to. 

And simply because we value Shai’s opinions, we couldn’t help but ask…

Delainey: What music have you been loving?

Shai: Ooo! There’s this one song that I’ve been telling everyone to listen to. It’s called “All That I Could” by DJ Q. It’s my anthem. Absolute banger! SG Lewis, his album is absolutely iconic. Greentea Pang, she is an amazing singer/vocalist from the UK and she’s all I’ve been listening to. Also, everyone knows this about me, but I listen to a crazy amount of Burial

Shai curated a playlist on Audius full of talented women who stand out to her in honor of Women’s History Month. Listen, follow, and let her know what ya think!

Alyssa: How do you like living in LA? Do you see yourself living there forever?

Shai: Man. I think that LA is overpriced, but when things come back, it is an amazing place to be. We have all of these shows, every agency is here, and most of the main promoters are here, so you’re bound to run into someone that you can network with and who will help you grow. I think that saying LA is toxic is the same as any place. I grew up in Miami, and it could be called the worst place ever too. But if you just have a good head on your shoulders you’ll be fine. I do think that when things open LA is a great place to be. There’s pros and cons to everywhere. 

Alyssa: Is there anything else you’d like to say to women who are reading this?

Shai: Feel free to always reach out to me. I feel like when I was getting involved music it was hard for me to reach out to other women because they all kinda scared me! They’re such badasses. Like Meg from Hard, that’s my role model. She’s a perfect example of someone who made me feel comfortable to ask questions. I feel like I didn’t have that otherwise, so I was forced to grow up and learn on my own. So I really hope that people will always feel comfortable reaching out to me. My DMs are always open to everyone!

We’re so thankful to have such a strong, supportive, and passionate woman leading other women in the music industry. Thank you for everything you do, Shai! We love you!

Keep up with Shai
Instagram | Twitter | Audius | Archangel Merch

Looking for new music? Keep up with our weekly Spotify Playlist, Fresh Hunts. Updated every Friday with all the latest releases. Whether it’s the newest drops, all your favorite artists, some old-school, or underground…we just want you to hear it.

March is Women’s History Month. This is an opportunity to celebrate successes and acknowledge struggles women face across the world. If you’re looking to support organizations that educate on women’s health, gender/workplace equity, and more, then look here.

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