Jono Ma interviews Shura, premieres two remixes of Side Effects
The Jagwar Ma producer and Australian dance music royalty takes a Shura album highlight for a sprawling spin - twice.
Header photo: A photo of Jono Ma taken by Shura while hiking in Australia, a story you're going to hear about if you keep reading...
Jono Ma and Shura are two musicians who occupy very different niches within the international music world, but there's a bit of overlap there too. The former, best known as being the producer/synth-player/master of all trades for Jagwar Ma, is a member of Australian dance music royalty at this point; his Midas touch felt across a string of artists whether it be as a featuring guest, a producer, a songwriter or a remixer. The latter, meanwhile, has blossomed into a cult-favourite UK pop highlight behind some of alt-pop's most defining tracks, with her latest record - last year's forevher - including 11 tracks that showcase exactly why Shura is such a prevalent artist amongst rising alt-pop musician's influence lists.
Jono Ma and Shura are two musicians whose paths wouldn't really met - Jono occupying a predominately dance-centric space; Shura making dreamy, lyric-heavy alt-pop - but somehow, they're here to prove us wrong. Today, we're stoked to see that Jono Ma has taken one of forevher's many highlights side effects and turned it into not just one, but two sprawling tunes that don't just amplify the brilliance of Jono Ma as a remixer and a producer, but also pinpointing the strengths of Shura and highlighting those too - something remixing should and can be all about.
The first remix, the Cosmo Mix, takes the barebones of side effects and stretches it out to an almost six-minute duration; clever vocal sampling and melodic layering building as the track crescendos into a nostalgic mix of sample-led funk-house that feels perfect for the sun-soaked beach and the darkly-lit, strobing clubs alike. The second remix, the Wonky mix, is a little shorter - it comes in just over five minutes long - but it still manages to pack a serious punch, electing for a more Todd Terje-esque sound as Shura's original single features more in the foreground above squelching bass lines of percussive claps.
"I met Jono in the rainforest just outside of Byron Bay. It was my first time in Australia and I'd been messaging Stella (from Warpaint) who I also think I'd never met in real life about meeting up and hanging out," says Shura on the remixes, and how the two ended up coming about. "It was summer in Australia but it was a rainy day and my hotel was on the beach so it didn't seem to make much sense to stay there and look out at the sea in the rain. Stella invited me to come on a hike with Jono which sounded like exactly the kind of thing to do on a stormy summer's day. I turned up to the meeting point and hopped into a car with them and we drove for an hour or so to start our hike up to a waterfall.
"I remember on the way home Jono blasted his remix of the Jurassic Park theme song with the windows down. I had a new camera that I didn't know how to use at the time so all I got were these blurry pictures of Stella and Jono and a tree. It's funny to me that as a touring musician you often end up meeting up with other musicians who you've shared messages with online but have never met because you're all in the same boat of being in different parts of the world for a few days and not knowing anyone," she continues. "With Jono and Stella being from Australia it was nice to get to see a side to it I would never have seen if they weren't familiar with the area. It was probably around that time that we decided to work on something together at some point and we finally got to on forevher. Jono and I did a few days together on a song called skyline, be mine and so he was one of the first people I got in touch with when it came to remixes on the album because I love his work and because he's a great human."
Dive into the two remixes below, and underneath that, check out a brief interview with Jono Ma asking Shura about creative processes and the unexplored side-effects of being a musician in the public eye:
Jono: What does your creative process look like?
Shura: I think the creative process varies a lot. I tend to start with pads and chords and try to float over the top of them with melodies and pick out words or sentiments that are occupying my mind at the time. Sometimes what the song is about takes a while to reveal itself to me. On skyline, be mine, I had written quite a bit of the song already with the guitarist from my band and I remember playing it to Jono who kind of freaked out and started imagining lots of synth parts. It made sense to work on that together because it's the demo I had that excited him the most. I always think that it's good to start with what captures your imagination because that's where your best ideas happen - most of the time.
Jono really helped shape the arc of that song and it's his production that really makes the final third soar in a way that I'm not sure I'd have reached without that collaboration. When we were playing around in the studio with the vocals Jono was using the AMS delay unit Andy Weatherall had used on Screamadelica and I remember at one point Andy popping his head round the door and asking us what we were getting up to because he liked the sound of it, which is probably one of the biggest compliments I've had in my career so far!
How does dance music cross over with your music, which is mostly within the indie/pop realms? Is much of your music influenced by dance music?
I've been a huge fan of Jono's work ever since I heard the first Jagwar Ma record. I think when you're writing or producing having an awareness of dance music and implementing fragments of it is what makes playing songs you've recorded in a studio live incredible. When I made the first record I had hardly played live and so I wasn't really thinking about it in the writing process and working with Jono really helped me make that shift mentally. It made me ask the question how is it going to feel to play this at a festival. I think you need to feel like you can't wait to take these songs out onto the road and play them to people. The same goes for doing remixes... how is this going to sound in a club, in a set, mixing out of this song and into another.
What are some of the side effects of your career?
Anxiety! Ha. There's a lot about being a musician that is amazing. But it can also be a stressful existence. I don't like flying and there is quite a lot of that which I don't love. But once you get there it's amazing to see parts of the world you probably never would if you didn't do this as a career.
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