Shura is the human embodiment of a racehorse (an interview)

From the moment I found 2Shy by Shura through a tweet from Years & Years, I’ve been obsessed with the musical story she’s been building.

Like Cyndi Lauper if she started releasing in 2014, if you haven’t listened to her, it’s mainly softly spoken synth-pop with stark lyrics that still find a way to resonate, as we get into in our chat.

Exchanging a friendly sigh of relief that it’s actually her on her on-point Twitter account (where she’s amassed an intimate, adoring following) we have a chat whilst she’s still in bed on the morning she gets to count down the final month of pre-album jitters.

Where are you this morning?
I am dressed, but I’m still in bed. I’m half on my way to being a proper grown-up. It’s half-past nine in the morning, I’ve only been up for an hour and I’m not a morning person at all.

I spent six months getting up at 4am, so now I just get up at 10am.
It’s glorious. It’s like being a rockstar, welcome to the life.

You wake up this morning and you’re like “MY ALBUM’S OUT IN ONE MONTH. WHAT THE HELL.” Are you nervous at all?
I’m mainly just excited actually. Of course I’m nervous about how people react to it but also that’s something I can’t control so I don’t worry about it too much. I’m just very excited to give birth. I’ve been pregnant, and it’s ready to come out now.

I know I’ve been tweeting you about procrastinating your album but you’ve been putting it together for at least a year and a half right?
Two years from the moment of first releasing Touch. It’s been a big two years, but I had to write and produce everything in that time, it’s not like I had ten songs and just spent fucking ages recording them. I feel like It’s not that long but because Touch had so much attention, they were like, “well obviously there’s an album around the corner” and I had to be like “no, not even close, so excuse me whilst I go away for two years and try finishing it”.

You’re quite young and I feel like with a lot of young people, especially with our changing attention span, the role of albums has definitely shifted. Beyonce was a great example of why they’re still important but for you, what is the role of an album?
I personally believe – and this isn’t the case of course – but the album is the only way music should be consumed. That’s how I consume it and that’s honestly what I believe. For me, I listen to a record, I don’t listen to a song. I get obsessed with albums and will listen to them non-stop for weeks, maybe even months, and then a year later I might dig into my favourite songs from that record. I think if you’re given an opportunity to create a body of work, 10-12 songs or whatever, and you’re in control of the order & flow of those songs, why would that not be something you want to curate in the same way as someone who runs a gallery would curate their artwork and the order of which you walk through it, it’s a whole experience. Obviously we live in a world of playlists and mixtapes – that’s also great and I’m not saying that’s like, shit – but the album is incredibly important and thank god for people like Beyonce who have a much bigger platform than I do to encourage people to consume music in that way.

I think your album makes sense coming now, for me at least – I’ve heard all the singles so far – and it’s almost like I know roughly what you’re about and now I’m ready to hear exactly what you want to say through music. How deep is the rest of the record getting, in comparison to 2Shy and What’s It Gonna Be?
It’s definitely an emotional record and that’s not something I can escape from, I can’t escape from writing those kinds of songs, so unfortunately you’re probably still going to cry but that’s my favourite music! Stuff that makes you feel an emotion – I love writing about heartbreak or anxiety or really fancying someone that doesn’t fancy you back or feeling really uncool and “why is my cap back to front oh it’s because I saw like Leonardo Di Caprio do it in this movie and he looked really cool but I don’t so what the fuck am I doing” and stuff like that, but I want to write about it in a ‘how its said’ way and a really mundane way. I think a lot of pop music is very often “you’re so hot” or “I’m so into you” or “I’m going to love you forever,” it’s never the “oh my god I just said hello and really fucked it up and now I’m really embarrassed”. I wanted to get that kind of stuff, I’m really inspired by John Hughes’ style of not just capturing the glamorous parts but also capturing the awkward, cringe worthy parts of being a human, and hopefully my record will sort of cover that and feel human in that way.

I love that. I love the kinda juxtaposition in 2Shy between a lyric like “We could be more than friends, maybe I’m just too shy” and referencing Uxbridge Road – from hyper specificity to more general, all-encompassing wording – is that something you actively do in your writing?
Specificity is really important to me in lyrics. Touch is an incredibly general song in a way but then moments like “I can’t believe it’s been three years,” but it hasn’t been three years for everyone, so having that thing that makes it unique to you and also across the record I’ve sampled home recordings so I’m in it at the age of 3, and also at the age of 7, then 16, then 18, then now and my family’s in it. So it’s very specific, but hopefully – even though it’s not their family – it’ll still be emotional to people and they’ll be able to relate to it. Everyone’s got a Mum and a Dad. Everyone’s got family. So hopefully they’ll connect to it. I hope so. We’ll have to wait and find out. Some people might just be like, “what the fuck is this shit”.

You’ve got a month til you find out whether it does connect!
I’m not sure I can.  I might just accidentally leak it and when I say accidentally I mean absolutely on purpose. I would never do that but I completely understand why people do leak their own records, like, I handed in my homework four months ago Universal, all these people are going “where the fuck’s your album” and I’m like “yeah! Where is it!” It’s like being a racehorse, in that like, pen, at the beginning where you’re like “I know I’m going to go on a race so can we just go now? Why am I in this pen just like, waiting for release? I need to look at the racecourse, just let me go”.

You are the queen of analogies.
I am the queen of everything really.

Going back to your art gallery analogy, is there a Mona Lisa in Nothing’s Real for you? Like, a prized possession?
It changes every week. I think Touch will always be special because it’s the first track people heard and it’s an incredibly emotional song, sometimes it’s White Light but right now it’s Make It Up, that’s my favourite song on the record and it’s something that people haven’t heard. So I have a Mona Lisa but she moves around. She’s almost like one of those holograms.

Nothing’s Real is out July 8, you can pre-order it here, and Shura’s amazing on Twitter.

Share this article, won't ya?