We are Lawaun Bernard and Jamal Bucanon, also known as The Shellers, and we have just released our first single, “Work No More” is a song that voices the emotions of the 9-5-ers who feel unappreciated, undervalued, and stuck. Our creative process usually starts with us writing the song with just keys and vocals.
However, the lyrics of the song were written a year before. I (Jamal) was working at a job in a warehouse near Tottenham in London that didn’t support his music and felt super repetitive. Jamal would travel early to work with my boy Dan. Dan is important to the story as Dan is an MC who I would freestyle with to pass the time at work.
One day in the warehouse, I mentally clocked out, repeating the phrase “I Don’t Wanna Work No More”. This was a phrase that stuck in Jamal’s head making him feel like he could turn this into something.
Later that week, my boss tried to fire me, saying “There isn’t enough work for you,” This inspired the line “My boss tried to show me the door, but my bank card needs a little more, I’m sure” that night I freestyled it over garage and grime beats but didn’t use them.
Fast-forward a year, and the song came together at Steeze Factory (Toddla T’s studio). Usually, I will write lyrics, while Lawaun and Toddla create the beat. Sometimes I refer back to old notes where I’ve written one-liners that are starting points. However, the creative process of this particular session was a bit different.
During this session, we already made two songs, and I didn’t feel like I had anything more to give. Toddla and Lawaun were producing the beat for “Work No More” and I tried a verse but it didn’t sit right.
I went for a smoke break, came back and started reciting the lines that I had written a year ago. Instantly the lines connected with the music and we knew that this was the vibe. It’s also a lesson to trust the process as timing is everything.
After I recorded the verse and chorus, Lawaun began to add ad-libs such as “Pay mi nuh” and “Lowe that” which just leant into the emotion of the song. The intro and outro vocals were also Lawaun’s, which he initially recorded as a draft for a dancehall artist. However, Toddla and I felt we needed that energy in our song and it ended up making the final cut.
After any session, Lawaun usually listens to the songs for a few weeks before adding additional production. Lawaun worked alongside Joshua Williams (violinist) to add strings to the bridge and outro section.
Usually Lawaun will play the piano or sing the different parts for the sessionist when pitching the ideas he can hear. After this, Lawaun then spends a day recording a bunch of different sounds over the track. This will then be sent over to Toddla, who will then decide what stays and what goes.
The next step was the mix. Usually, this can be an isolated process depending on who’s involved. However, Toddla had a flight to Jamaica and only had a day and a half to mix. This day consisted of constant voice notes, facetime calls and messages. This day was absolutely mental, but we delivered.
The final piece remaining was the visualiser. Lawaun spent a couple days searching for different visual artists and going through their portfolios. He discovered the work of digital artist Georgia Pedley.
Georgia has worked with Manchester City, Universal Music, eBay, The NY Times, Twitter, Liverpool FC, Expedia and Wagamama UK. She has a unique style which combines textures, colours and feels like a bespoke piece of art. Analogue collage stop motion animation is the technique that Georgia implements across all her work.
It was Georgia’s unofficial Nia Archives “Forbidden Feelingz” lyric video in particular that inspired us. Lawaun emailed Georgia the song alongside his appreciation of her work. He makes it his mantra to work with people who resonate with the music, otherwise it’s done solely for the money and not the love.
Georgia thankfully loved the music and began pitching ideas and sent us a deck. My childhood friend Geno was able to get us to the Moth Club for a couple hours as a location to shoot. We started recording candid shots with D.O.P Keisha Walters, which is the footage that Georgia uses in the “Work No More” visualiser, we hope you enjoy the fruits of our labour.
Watch the official visualiser for “Work No More” below and stream it everywhere else here
Words by The Shellers // Follow them on Instagram