(AllHipHop Features) The first week of the Red Bull Music Festival Chicago ended with Smino bringing his Zero Fatigue crew to Thalia Hall. Before the NØIR album creator joined his band in front of the lights, Soul musician Schenay Mosley warmed up the audience with her own set.
Dressed in a silver sequined pants suit, Mosley stepped behind a keyboard and began to belt out vocals that vibrated through the venue. The classically-trained pianist was backed by a drummer, a bassist, and a guitarist. Schenay later stepped to the front of the theater and commanded the crowd to reply “for you” whenever she declared “I’m just too cold.”
Zero Fatigue compatriots DJ Nosidam and Monte Booker also served as openers last Saturday night in the Windy City. Mosley later returned to the stage to assist Smino by functioning as a backup singer for the St. Louis-bred emcee. I had the chance to catch up with Schenay in her dressing room before her second appearance at the Red Bull Music Festival Chicago, and the “No Way” performer discussed her burgeoning recording career.
“I’ve been doing it my whole life, but I started doing it professionally in my mid-20s,” explained Shenay about how she got into making music. “I was in an all-girl band called Highness. I played keys. I was really behind the scenes.”
She continued, “After a while, I just got the urge to want to sing. I felt this push like, ‘Listen, get out of your comfort zone.’ I sang with Highness, then one of the former girls in the band said that Smino needed a backup singer. I was like, ‘Okay, bet.’ I didn’t know who he was at the time.”
Mosley took that suggestion, went to a rehearsal with Smino around the time of his S!Ck S!Ck S!Ck EP in 2015, and got the gig as his musical accompaniment. As she fully embraced her new role with the Zero Fatigue frontman, Mosley also started developing her own sound as a solo artist.
“Now I feel like I’m at that point to where it’s ready to go. I’m ready to go. Everything’s just coming together perfectly,” insisted the Milwaukee-born, Dayton-raised entertainer.
Mosley grew up in Ohio’s sixth-largest city, but she eventually traveled 300 miles northwest to attend Columbia College Chicago. Her switch from majoring in journalism to music business led to encounters with the metro area’s new generation of Hip Hop headliners such as Chance The Rapper and Saba.
In 2018, Schenay dropped her 6-track LOTUS EP. The journey from female faction to an individual artist was not an easy one for the self-described shy, anxious former church choir member. Two particular experiences shaped her into the on-stage force she is today.
“I was comfortable with the group, but it took me some years to get comfortable with just me. Up until like a year and a half ago, I became comfortable with being me,” said Mosley. “Also, singing back-up for Smi helped. He was like, ‘Take that mic off the mic stand. We’re moving around this time.’ It took me a minute to get comfortable with that. That has helped a lot on top of being in a girl band.”
The remnants of any potentially stifling stage fright seem to be behind her. Schenay is now regularly hands-on with her entire presentation, including the eye-catching outfit that reflected the glare of Thalia Hall’s spotlight over the sea of concertgoers swaying together to her tunes.
“I envision what is my vibe for the show. Do I want to be comfortable? Glam? Comfy and glam? So my look now is comfy and glam. I didn’t want nothing that’s too tight, that shows too much skin where I’m self-conscious. I just wanted something to pop and be memorable,” described Schenay about her current approach to fashion. “I pick everything out myself. Unless I asked somebody.”
And yes, she is just as meticulous when it comes to her performance. Mosley added, “I just sit and think of what songs I want. What is the vibe of my show that day? Because one show could be very chill and one could be very hype. So I decide, ‘I want this to be a hype show with some chill points to cool it off.’ Then, I construct it in my head which order I want the songs to go and how I want it to flow. Almost like you’re hearing an album on stage. I want the show to flow, I want it to be an experience.”
Schenay Mosley, DJ Nosidiam, Monte Booker, Smino, and the entire Zero Fatigue rewarded Red Bull Music Festival Chicago attendees with an unforgettable experience on November 23. The Red Bull Music event closes out tonight (November 29) with Saba and Pivot Gang Present: John Walt Day.