When I first heard the sultry pop anthem for nervous girls everywhere, "2Shy," last year, I instantly knew UK artist Shura
was special. I didn't know exactly who she was, but I certainly wanted to, and when I found out that I could interview her last month, I jumped on the opportunity like a bee would pounce on a flower. There were so many things I wanted to ask her - about songwriting, producing, the spotlight - but I figured I'd start with the question I've been asking myself ever since I heard "2Shy" in 2015: who exactly is
Shura? Her response, "I have one album, it's called Nothing's Real.
I always wear a beanie even if it's really warm. I wore one in Austin and got so hot that I had sweat patches at the front of my knees which I didn't think was possible. That's sort of the best way I can sum myself up." And although "scattered" might be an understatement for that answer, its pretty spot on.
Sporting mom jeans, an oversized once-white-now-grey denim jacket with thick black Sharpie markings all over it, and of course, a beanie, Shura was just about the most relatable person I ever met. When talking about her sound, she explained, "A lot of people have compared me to True Blue
era Madonna or 90's Janet Jackson...And as you can see, I definitely don't present myself as any of those people. I kind of look like an eleven-year-old boy." Although she may not be doused in glitter and red lipstick, her music sure sounds like she is.
On the same day as the interview, I had the opportunity to catch Shura live at New York Citys Terminal 5 opening for M83
. She played nothing but polished and glitzy excellence, each song, like the album's title track, "Touch," and "What's It Gonna Be?" sounded so pure. The production was crisp and it had that danceable quality that made you want to mimic the choreography from Britney Spears' "Toxic" video (and honestly, we could even see Shura singing "Toxic" as if it was her own, but maybe slightly less aggressively). Sure, she wasn't wearing a scandalous nude body suit covered in diamonds and six inch heels, but she was still churning out accessible pop hits -- an impressive feat that the crowd was not expecting when they first watched her walk on stage. I felt like she was my friend, but a super talented friend with songs that related to young women everywhere and could potentially take over the world someday...
When asked about the title of her debut album, Nothing's Real,
Shura explained the specific event that catapulted her creative identity, "I had a panic attack for the first time two years ago and I thought I was dying...And then we did all these tests and they went 'You're fine. Everything's fine. Apart from the fact that your heart is racing at 3000 miles per hour, you're good to go' and I was like 'Oh, so what I'm feeling isn't real,' which is not true, because I am feeling it, but it's the fact that I wasn't dying. And that to me was a really big turning point and happened during the record-making process...I suddenly understood from start to finish what it was that I wanted to do." The stoner philosophy that technically nothing we feel is real is something that Shura lives by, but after hearing what she has to stay and giving her record a couple hundred spins, we know the love we feel for her is very much real.
Alexandra Lilah Denton, also Aleksandra Lilah Yakunina-Denton, better known by her stage name Shura, is an English singer, songwriter and producer.