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February 2021

Shura: “I wanted to make a pop record”

As Shura's debut album drops, a proper pop star is born.
Published: 10:04 am, July 08, 2016
Shura: “I wanted to make a pop record”
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]It’s the internet age. Everything is available at the click of a button, or tap of a screen, and everything is instant. So what happens when you post a YouTube video and, frankly, the response is mad? People expect more.

The year is 2014. Shura has posted ‘Touch’, a song and video so well crafted that the natural expectation was that it was the first snippet of a bigger picture. At the very least, it was so enjoyable that people at least hoped there was more ready to be unveiled. But there wasn’t an album, there wasn’t more than a few bits and bobs that Shura had been working on. But now there was a real want.

“People thought that because it was so fully formed and perfect in its own rough way, they were expecting an album announcement to be around the corner,” explains Shura, “or that I already had recorded it, or had a record deal. It wasn’t these things, it was just a demo that I had put out and I wasn’t prepared for the expectation or the attention that it got. All I had was a couple of other songs that I was happy with but even they weren’t finished - they were still in the middle of being produced.

“I could recognise that there was more attention and there probably was more pressure [in making an album] but I don’t think I felt it emotionally, because I was like - they’re just going to have to wait. I haven’t finished it, haven’t got a record deal or a publishing deal so they’re just going to have to chill.”

"pull" text="This record is the best that I can do at this point in my life." ]

So, without fear or worry, Shura took a step back. Where many could have rushed an album out in the shadow of a hit, she worked on her album as she pleased, using it as an opportunity to learn along the way. “I had never played a synthesiser until played one on ‘Touch’,” she notes, “so, I went from being someone who had never touched a synthesiser to being able to programme one [during the writing and recording process].

“I think I have definitely got better and you can hear it in the record. There are songs which if you played them to me two years ago and said you will produce that, I would have been like no way. I really have pushed myself to learn as much as possible and experiment with sound, and be that person who will spend a whole day making sure the guitar sounds how I wanted it to sound in my brain. That’s a difficult thing: you can have an idea of how you want things to sound in your mind but making that happen is a totally different thing. A lot of the time, invariably you fail but you fail in a really interesting way so that you find something you didn’t realise you wanted, but actually you prefer. So it’s just about me exploring my boundaries and, I guess, my capabilities.

“For me, this record is the best that I can do at this point in my life. Maybe my second record will be better or maybe it will be 100 times worse. Got to sell a few of the first record before we realise what the second one will sound like!”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width="stretch_row
[vc_column][vc_video link="
" align="center
[/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]‘Touch’ caused a lot of things to fall into place. On top of an album, people sought gigs, and that she could do with a few more songs in tow. Some songs were written in her bedroom, others tested early on in that live setting and formed further for the album later. “People were like, ‘Well when are you gigging?’. Well, let me write three more songs and maybe I can do a cover as well, and then I can sort of charge people £7 for the shortest show ever.

“At the end of the record-making process I wrote with Greg Kurstin, which was mental because he is probably one of the most prolific and successful songwriters of the moment. In a sense I’ve made a bedroom pop record but in places I’ve worked with one of the most famous pop writers in the world. I don’t know how I’ve managed to do both at the same time, but I have.”

From bedroom jams to collaborating with the best in the world, Shura keeps it relatable. Title track ‘Nothing’s Real’ is a particularly important song for her about a panic attack that she had. “It was the first one I’ve ever had and it’s about a big change in my life, coming to terms with that I have anxiety, but it’s sort of a disco number so I guess that that’s sort of my personality.” One half more serious “but also a massive joker. It kind of works because it’s such a serious subject but it’s also really happy.”

"pull" text="To feel fragile mentally is still something that people find difficult to talk about." ]

She has always written about herself - it was a no brainer that the bad or scary makes it in there with the good, even when it’s a subject that can still feel too sensitive to touch for many. “Whatever you experience in life is fodder for what your write about, whether it’s a traumatic break up or having a really, really massive crush on someone and not being sure whether they like you back... it was really exciting for me to have something to write about that wasn’t me fancying someone and them not liking me! That’s what most of my songs are about - that was an exciting moment for me to delve into something that is maybe a bit different.

“[Anxiety is] not something everyone writes about because not everyone experiences it, and people don’t really like to talk about being vulnerable in that way. It’s fine to vulnerable, I guess, sexually, vulnerable in a relationship. But to feel fragile mentally is still something that people find difficult to talk about. It definitely is changing. I think post-Amy Winehouse, the music industry has realised that it has to look at an artist holistically - it can’t be like we need you to write hits and sell records. All people can be fragile and becoming a musician is personal to you. They have all the attention on them for no real reason other than they are doing something they like doing. These are strange things for a person to go through and the tides are turning.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width="stretch_row
[vc_column][vc_single_image image="562" img_size="full" alignment="center
[/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Shura is an artist who won’t be pigeon-holed. She wants to do something different on every record because artists like Madonna, who evolve from one record to the next, are her kind of artists. “For me, I wanted make a pop record that sounded incredibly personal but still had universal ideas and emotions and can speak for everyone. That was the challenge - stuff that’s very specific to me and could only have been written by me, but somebody who’s in the middle of Mexico or the Philippines or America can relate to as well.”

While she looks to evolve, for now this snapshot showcases personal pop. Though the world hoped for instantaneous new music, even she herself was surprised by having to wait further between her album’s completion and release. “I spent January just finishing off the record, then realised I had to wait another four months before I could actually put it out, which I hadn’t anticipated.

“I hadn’t anticipated how weird that would feel. It’s like handing in your homework and waiting to be marked - you want to know whether you’ve got an A, B or C, and you’re like, ‘Come on now’.” does at last say **YES**, and more so, it’s fair to say that she should expect a fairly high grade from this piece of homework, one that simply says: “Hi, I’m Shura. I’ve made what I think and I hope is a good pop record from my bedroom, and I hope people like it.”
"stopper" ]

Taken from the July issue of Dork - order a copy now. Shura’s debut album ’Nothing’s Real’ is out 8th July.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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