INTERVIEW: Shamu | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Shamu burst onto the scene last year with their debut single Dive, swiftly followed by Jump Ship. Their hard to pigeonhole but ear pleasing sound caught the attention of listeners around the local music scene, and their imminent third single, Where To Land, will no doubt establish them as the region’s finest purveyors of, as they put it, “alt-pop songs with electronic beats, synths and samples combined with acoustic drums and atmospheric guitars”.

Being surrounded by such good stuff definitely influences us creativity but we try to occupy our own sonic space

They encompass everything that is good about modern day music composition, producing beautifully crafted songs that are unafraid to be influenced by a variety of genres. As drummer Sam Hodgson explains, “We’ve each got a pretty broad taste so our influences are fairly eclectic. There are things that influence us but don’t necessarily inform our sound: for example Kendrick Lemar, Explosions in the Sky, The Physics House Band and everything in between. When it comes to our sound, we’ve been compared to Wild Beasts, Tame Impala and Glass Animals. We dig those bands too.” Singer/guitarist, Jon Evans adds “Vocally, I take a lot of influence from hip-hop. I kind of start writing patterns of syllables before any words. I’m a big Yeezy fan.”

There’s a great scene for alt/experimental bands in the region, and I ask Evans his opinion of what is going on and if it influences their sound at all. “We really like Sagaboi, he’s bringing something fresh. Bands like Cauls and Future Horizons are great as well. Being surrounded by such good stuff definitely influences us creativity but we try to occupy our own sonic space.”

And that they do. Where To Land is driving slice of audio lushness filled with glittering synth sounds and funked-up guitar all encapsulated in an endearing vocal filled with north-eastern soul.  Evans tells me more about the single and elaborates on how it differs from previous releases; “We recorded it with our long-time producer and friend James Haselhurst at The Grain Studios in Newcastle. It’s about reaching the end of a long journey and learning what ‘home’ is. Our first two singles were recorded as a two-piece before Will [Holton] got involved; we feel like this a much more focused representation of our collective sound.”

The addition of Holton on guitar, keys and percussion) has undeniably given a much richer dynamic, but this transition from a more lo-fi sound might also have something to do with the layering of tracks during their intricate songwriting process. Evans explains: “our songs normally start their life on my laptop as a bunch of loops and electronic beats and they’re normally exchanged in emails a few times before we starting working out how to play them live. At that point, guitars and vocals start to happen and the structure and feel all comes together in the practice room. It tends to result in us having to multitask a fair bit when we play live, but that’s fun and it keeps us on our toes.”

Shamu are a band that will continue to delight and intrigue listeners of all musical persuasions. Luckily for us, there will plenty to keep our minds and hearts occupied in 2017. “We’ve already got our next two singles recorded and an EP in the works, so we’ll be recording that soon. We’ll be going on tour later in the year too. You can come and see us at Evolution Emerging in the meantime.”

Shamu release Where To Land on Friday 5th May, and play Evolution Emerging on Saturday 27th May.

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