Premiere: Elle Shimada - Mononoke feat. Jamahl Yami
Get to know the Tokyo-born Melbourne-based artist and her new single of cinematic, atmospheric drum & bass
Image credit: Vincent Tran
Following up her 2022 debut album HOME ≠ LOCATION last year, producer, vocalist and “dance-floor activist” Elle Shimada is back with the luscious, majestic, drum & bass influenced sounds of Mononoke, out June 9 but premiering on Pilerats today.
Featuring the vocals of Waanyi/Gaangaliida (North West Queensland) man and Naarm based rapper Jamahl Yami, Mononoke is a building affair, opening with big kick drums, melodic percussion and a rumbling bass line while Yami spits bars, followed by Shimada’s vocals. The composition soon gives way to a sweeping string arrangement before the breaks kick in and (cue the airhorns!) and the track kicks into overdrive (and we can only imagine sets the dancefloor off).
To celebrate the release of Mononoke, we caught up with Elle to find out all about the new single, creative process, the concept of dance-floor activism and more - have a listen and get to know below!
Congrats on your single Mononoke - as a fan of both the series Mononoke and iconic film Princess Mononoke, I was hoping you could elaborate on the title.
Thanks so much! I'm really excited about this new single! As a kid, I'd have these recurring dreams. I didn't know where it was, where I was, or who I was in it. When I watched the film for the first time, I was shook because it was so similar to this dream world. Later in life, I found out that my father comes from the northern part of Japan Indigenous to the Ainu peoples, where Miyazaki's iconic film Mononoke is based on which made so much sense.
How did the track first start taking shape?
The new single is an homage to these ancestral memories and wisdom that lives in our bodies beyond generations. I wanted to make a soundtrack, like a diary entry to preserve the ancestral whispers that were gifted to me in the form of the dreamscape.
How did you link up with Jamahl Yami? What was it like working with them?
Yami is a brother, so working with him was a very natural progression. We eat together, we make songs together. He is an insanely powerful, talented, and underrated lyricist and rapper. The song wouldn't have been complete without his verse.
We also shoot a music video for it which will come out along with the track.
It is self-directed, produced, and edited with a huge team of family who've all generously donated their skills and time to it. Through collaboration with Yami, movement director Bella Waru and my father on a camera, it was such a beautiful process creating this film.
When did the idea of “dance-floor-activism” first come to you? Where would you like to take this concept in the future?
I really enjoy learning, and sharing what I learn. In between the dance and the grooves, we as artists are offered an opportunity to speak to people with open hearts. One of the reason I play music is because I find overwhelming beauty in the faces that lights up when people gather to dance. It is a true privilege to stand on the stage and observe a collective joy and pleasure that is
felt amongst the dance floor, a closest experience to euphoria I've experienced. So I try and take this privilege to share positive messages, amplify under heard voices and create a space that is inclusive and honest.
Musicians are just a vessel of a deeper source, where music is stored in safety, and it 1s our duties to help carry it, and to share it amongst the people in the room. The way we share positivities on dance floor is a beautiful tool for a collective healing. The way our minds and souls connect through music and this collective elevation could be as humble as a moment or relief, or something transformative like an activism that is based and centers the pleasures of every sentient beings, humans, animals, spirits, ancestors and future generations, winds, rivers and oceans on this beautiful Mother Earth and beyond, to the universe inward and outward
Or maybe it's not that deep, haha.
As we near the second half of 2023, what else is on the horizon for Elle Shimada?
A lot of touring and releases this year! This year is looking wild, I'm like a shitty surfer barely riding the wave but it's been really exciting. In all honesty, everything is changing at such a fast pace I have no idea what my plans are, but please follow @elleshimada on Instagram for the latest news!
What have you been listening to lately?
My next album. A lot of it.
How can people best support your art?
Please listen to the songs and watch the forthcoming video, that's all I ask really. But I feel very humbled and happy when people come to the show or share the songs with their community.
Elle Shimada's new single Mononoke feat. Yami is out June 9