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© 2007-2023 weird

A queer perspective on women in pop culture

Ausgabe Nr. 136

April 2019












I Know What

That Feels Like












Interview: Christine Stonat (3/2019)

Photo: Ho llie Fe rnando










weird: Your brand-new song ”BKLYNLDN“ is out now. It’s basically a declaration of love, you, from London, and your girlfriend, from Brooklyn. Would you say it is a kind of ”concept song“ about your ”journey“ to one another?


Shura: In a sense it’s conceptual. It’s about a physical journey and an emotional one, it’s a song that evolves thematically and sonically. It starts as a declaration more of desire than of love but that changes as the relationship develops. In the first chorus I talk about lying in my bed with my new girlfriend, in London, but in the last chorus I flip the lyric slightly by just saying ‘we’re lying’. This isn’t just physical desire anymore… it is love and so the dynamic between us evolves as does the sonic landscape in the coda.





weird: Your video to ”BKLYNLDN“ shows two women (Ellen Blocksidge & Milly Cope) in a very intimate, tender way. Director is Fiona Burgess. The concept is yours. How was your approach to this video and how is it to making videos in general?


Shura: I wanted to approach the video for BKLYNLDN as the beginning of a new era. Fiona Burgess captured that brilliantly and completely understood what I wanted to do, which is to go back to basics and introduce and prepare people for a new world. The colour blue is an important theme for my new record and the simplest way of illustrating that was to introduce that into the visuals. It was important to Fiona Burgess and Hollie Fernando (who art directed the piece) to take a classic image of love that everybody recognises - Rodin’s ‘The Kiss’ - then reframe it. I think it was partly inspired by a discussion I had with my queer friends about switching pronouns in our heads from lyrics in songs that were popular when we were kids and how naturally it came to us. I guess I partly wanted to ask the question… does the reverse work too? Is it possible to illustrate queer love and have people who aren’t queer relate to it immediately. Can their reaction be… oh I’ve been there, I know what that feels like, that’s me.





weird: You started as an independent musician with no budget. Today the video to your very first single ”Touch“ (2014) has over 30 million views on YouTube at the moment. With that song and video you had made a clear queer political statement for the diversity of love and sexuality without really intending to be political, you said. How are you looking back on the overwhelming response today?


Shura: I will always look back on the day we shot the video as one of my favourite days on planet earth. We did it in one day in a tiny studio and everyone in the video was either my friend or a colleague from work. We had no idea that one day 30 million people would have seen it. Sometimes things just work and there’s no way of really knowing why. Would it have worked as well if I’d had a big budget and used actors… probably not. I think part of it’s charm comes from the fact that we were all nervous about being on camera, worried about what we looked like. After we wrapped we all went straight back to my friends house and watched the rushes and I remember a lot of us were crying and just saying how beautiful everyone looked. Maybe part of the emotion was down to us having succeeding in making a video… that it wasn’t a complete disaster.





weird: You came out publicly as lesbian in 2015 then. Would you say your intention towards being political with your music has changed since then, also regarding your new song?


Shura: I’ve been out since I was 16 years old so I don’t know if I’d say I came out publicly in 2015… But I guess in sense it’s true. That was the first time a journalist asked me about my sexuality directly. The funny thing about coming out is we are always coming out all of the time. If I hold hands with my girlfriend on the street, I’m ‘coming out’ to whoever is also walking down the street. I think I felt like the video for Touch was a pretty big hint… It was made with my friends and 80% of the video featured queer women so it wasn’t exactly a secret. To have that as my first video definitely emboldened me to be open about it in interviews and it not be an awkward moment or a huge shock to anyone. I think where my perception of being political has evolved is that I don’t take representation for granted in the same way. I used to think that my music wasn’t political at all. That the video for Touch wasn’t a political statement, because in many ways it isn’t. It’s a nice song that sounds happy about an ex girlfriend that didn’t love me anymore. But since then I’ve learnt that just turning up as a queer person and being open about it is progress.





weird: You finally moved from London to Brooklyn in order to live with your girlfriend. What do you like most about New York (besides your girlfriend maybe)?


Shura: I kind of love how everyone is so angry all the time. It seems so unnecessary. You can step out of a cab and get called an asshole by a cyclist because of the way the car that someone else is driving is parked. It’s a different energy to London. It makes me smile because underneath the aggression is this kind of warmth to people. It just takes a bit of adjusting to because in the beginning you just keep thinking what’s wrong with me, what have I done to make this person so cross. It’s definitely an extreme city. Extreme people. Extreme weather. Extremely good food. My girlfriend is quite nice too.





weird: Anything you miss in Brooklyn?


Shura: I miss my family a lot. It’s strange because I don’t feel that far away but I used to live with my twin brother and our cats and it’s strange not coming home to them. But change is good. I think change is essential. Sometimes you have to put yourself in a position of discomfort. I also miss Indian food.





weird: How quickly can you adjust to new things, situations, living conditions? And what role does this play for you not only in your private life but also in your musical career?


Shura: Touring so much over the last 4 years has definitely made it easier to adjust to new situations and different living conditions. I spent 3 years in cheap hotel rooms living out of a suitcase and eating at service stations… So I’m pretty low maintenance. It means when I am ‘home’ I like to do a lot of cooking because that’s something you don’t get to do on tour and making dinner and doing laundry is something that I now really enjoy because it means I’m home. Seeing so much of the world has only made me want to explore it more, and I think that definitely gets reflected in the music you make. Why stay in the same place physically and creatively when you can explore?





weird: Brexit in the UK, Trump in the USA. How do you deal with this politically ”threat“  – directed also of course against LGBTIQ people and rights?


Shura: Falling in love in America over the last 2 years has been an interesting internal conflict, because it’s hard not to fall in love with America at the same time. There’s so much of it that is so wonderful. I’ve met amazing people here but at the same time something very disturbing is happening in the USA and in the UK. I don’t think it’s necessarily unique to those countries either. Sometimes it’s easy to become complacent about progress. I think the last few years has illustrated why it’s imperative that we aren’t complacent. Just because there has been progress, doesn’t mean the reverse can’t happen. It’s important to participate in politics, to vote where you can vote, to demonstrate where you can demonstrate. Brexit? Ugh. It's all pretty depressing.






Interview: Christine Stonat (3/2019)

Photo: Ho llie Fe rnando

Die britische Musikerin Shura ist zurück. Nach ihrem erfolgreichen Debut „Nothing‘s Real“ (2016), das bis auf Platz 13 der britischen Charts stieg, ist am 11.3.19 nun Shuras brandneue Single ”BKLYNLDN“ (Secretly Canadian) erschienen. Die Single ist der erste Auszug aus dem vermutlich noch in diesem Jahr erscheinenden neuen zweiten Album. BKLYNLDN ist die Verkürzung und Verschmelzung von Brooklyn / London. Shura selbst ist von London gerade erst in den New Yorker Stadtteil Brooklyn gezogen. Der Liebe wegen. Hier lebt sie seit einiger Zeit mit ihrer Freundin zusammen. Wie es zu dieser Liebe kam und wie diese gemeinsame „Reise“ war, davon erzählt Shura in ihrer neuen Single. Ein sehr persönlicher Song also nebst einem sehr intimen, zarten Video, bei dem die Schauspielerinnen Ellen Blocksidge und Milly Cope ein nacktes, sehr zärtliches Paar darstellen. Regie führte die Londoner Regisseurin und Musikerin Fiona Burgess.


Im aktuellen Interview spricht Shura mit weird u. a. über den näheren Hintergrund zu ihrer neuen Single ”BKLYNLDN“, gibt Einblicke in die Entstehung des Videos, erzählt vom queer und politisch sein, wie die inzwischen weit über 30 Millionen Views ihres allerersten Videos zur queeren Single „Touch“ (2014) heute auf sie wirken, was sie an ihrem neuen Zuhause in New York liebt und was sie dort vermisst und noch vieles mehr. Außerdem verriet Shura im weird-Interview-Steckbrief, siehe links, dass ihre weirdeste, sprich schrägste und sonderbarste Eigenschaft ist, dass sie keine Schokolade mag und das ganze Aufheben darum nicht versteht. Well, this is very weird indeed!







„BKLYNLDN“ (Secretly Canadian)

Out: seit 11.3.19


- in eigenen Worten -



Name: Aleksandra Lilah Denton

Alter: 27

Beruf: Mother of Kittens / Musician

Wohnort: Brooklyn

Meine weirdeste Eigenschaft: I don't like chocolate. What’s all the fuss about?


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