Eight years ago Shahid Khan was delivering pizzas and dreaming of forging a career in music. Things looked bleak. He’d dropped out of London Guildhall University and was back living in Watford with his parents.
Fast forward to 2014 and it’s a very different story.
When it comes to music production, Shahid’s one of the hottest properties in the business.
He’s signed to Virgin Records, he’s got two Ivor Novello awards under his belt, was behind Emeli Sande’s phenomenal chart-topping album Our Version of Events, has worked with the likes of Cheryl Cole, Leona Lewis and Rihanna, is credited with discovering singer Sam Smith, and his debut album Hotel Cabana peaked at number two.
It’s a massive turnaround for the 29-year-old, who goes by the name Naughty Boy, and used to make music in his parents’ shed.
His fortunes began to change after he applied for and secured a £5,000 grant from The Prince’s Trust in 2006. Around the same time, he bagged himself a place on Channel 4’s Deal or No Deal, appearing on 26 shows and collecting a prize of £44,000. Using this cash, he bought the studio equipment that would set him on the road to stardom.
Now musicians on both sides of the pond are clamouring to work with him, especially after Naughty Boy reached Number 1 with his single La La La featuring Sam Smith, pushing Daft Punk’s Get Lucky off the top spot.
“It’s mental, the whole thing is crazy,” laughs Shahid. “I’ve worked with some brilliant artists and it’s weird to think that all the focus is on me now, that so many people want to speak to and interview me.
“Emeli has had mad success, I want people to know who I am worldwide, that’s the plan, but I’m still a producer and hopefully, because of that, that’ll mean I’ll be able to get away with more.”
In fact, at the beginning of the month, the duo attended a special dinner hosted by the British Asian Trust, of which members of the royal family were guests. “That’s definitely the highlight of 2014,” he says. “It all started with The Prince's Trust, the grant changed my life. I was delivering pizzas, I’d never had any musical training, I just naturally knew how to make music. I told The Prince ‘Thank you, it changed my life'.
“My mum and dad Zahida and Barkat Khan were invited to the event too, so to be able to take them somewhere like that… It makes them really proud.
Naughty Boy will perform a DJ set at Speaker Box, Electric Brixton, Town Hall Parade, London, SW2, from 10pm until 6am.