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Naughty Boy, aka Shahid Khan from Watford, has been nominated for a Brit Award for best British Single for La La La. He talks to Rosy Moorhead
He’s worked with the likes of Emeli Sandé and Lily Allen, hangs out with Rudimental and Sam Smith and is now enjoying the jet set lifestyle of a hotshot record producer. But Naughty Boy, aka Shahid Khan, still likes nothing better than walking around the streets of West Watford where he grew up and hanging out with his mum and dad.
“I’m in London and travelling a lot so I’m living out of hotels mainly, but I’m still technically living in Watford,“ says Shahid, who celebrated his 29th birthday last week.
“I was back a little while ago and I went to the fish and chip shop near my house and Westfield School, where I went, had just been let out and, I’m not even joking, I couldn’t get out! All the kids were crammed in this chip shop, wanting me to sign stuff and take pictures – someone wanted me to sign their back! My dad had to come and rescue me.“
Shahid is as excited recounting this little story as he is telling me about his appearance at the Brit Award nominations ceremony last week, where he, along with the rest of us, found out he was up for the Best British Single award, for La La La featuring Sam Smith.
“I found out just before I went in the audience,“ he reveals, “but I went to the toilet when they announced my nomination! But it’s nice.
“The more I think about it, the more of a big deal it is. For me, the important bit is being recognised for my music – and also putting Watford on the map. People from Watford that I don’t know are coming up to me and saying how proud they are, I love that. Me, Elton John, Gerri Halliwell, Vinnie Jones – I like to keep that flag flying.“
Shahid’s friend Sam Smith has been announced as the Critics’ Choice winner in the Brit Awards, and Shahid feels a certain degree of pride.
“I basically got him signed when I put him on La La La,“ he says, “so it felt like a double whammy, him and me. Sam’s looking to have an amazing year, I’m so happy to be part of his journey. It’s such a nice start to 2014.“
The awards ceremony takes place in London in February, and Shahid is up against Bastille, Calvin Harris, Disclosure, Ellie Goulding, John Newman, Olly Murs, One Direction, Passenger and Rudimental for British Single.
“One Direction!“ he laughs. “It’s a public vote and I know they’ve got all these crazy fans. I’ve got 232 million views on YouTube, so I just need all those people to vote! Put in the article that people have got to vote for me!
“I really want to say thank you to the Watford Observer for always taking notice of me and supporting me. I still live in Watford, so it’s my local paper and that makes it really special for me.“
In 2006, Shahid secured a grant of £5,000 from the Prince’s Trust to help him get started in his musical career and this year he has been invited to be an ambassador for the charity.
“That’s definitely going to be a highlight of 2014,“ he says. “I’ve been invited to a dinner and me and Emeli Sandé are going to be performing. Prince Charles is going to be there – I’m not ready for that! I’ll definitely be on my best behaviour, suited and booted and all that.
“They’ve invited my mum and dad as well, Zahida and Barkat Khan. I used to deliver pizzas in the town and my dad used to be a taxi driver in Watford, so to be able to take them somewhere like that… It makes them really proud.
“Obviously I like the success, but it’s the little things like that I really love.“
- The Brit Awards take place at the O2 in London on Wednesday, February 19 from 8pm. Details: brits.co.uk, hotel-cabana.com