Based in Sydney, Australia, SHIRA is an emerging artist with talents in singing, engineering, and producing. She just made her official debut with “save me,” and chatted to us about making the track, finding her voice, and how life has changed since the pandemic.
Photo by Pietro Sassanelli
MM: First of all, how are you doing during this crazy time?
SHIRA: Honestly, although I have lost my job due to Covid-19, I am thriving. I am naturally a hermit, and enjoy staying home as much as I can. It also allowed me to stream more on Twitch, which is just incredibly fun and helps me connect to some of my followers. I am actually dreading the day it will be over, as I have gotten used to not leaving the house as much.
MM: Have you always wanted to make music?
SHIRA: Yes. As a kid, I remember thinking to myself that I really wanted to be a singer, but because I lived in a tiny town called Rivne in Ukraine, I just knew it wasn’t meant to be. I still find it strange how I have managed to convince myself to do this. I developed severe anxiety of singing in the middle of my Bachelor of Music degree, due to constant harsh criticism from peers and teachers. It took me a long time to enjoy my voice and finally have others enjoy it too. The fear is no longer there. I am so thankful for that.
MM: You created “save me” all on your own. What was the most exciting aspect about making that track? The most challenging?
SHIRA: At the start of 2020, I decided to make an album, as all of my favorite artists used to back in the day. It’s a different landscape now, so I decided to focus on singles. It was a challenge, as I was looking at nine or so different tracks that I had made and having to decide which was good enough to be a single. “save me” naturally became that track; I realized that after my stepdad heard the instrumental, and saying it sounds a lot like Pink Floyd. My stepdad is my harshest critic, so I was really surprised that he liked anything I wrote. That moment gave me some confidence, and I decided to finish it. The whole thing was a challenge, to be honest, as I have never made a full track alone, have never written lyrics nor sang harmonies. But, it taught me so much, so I am excited for the next release.
MM: How did Quentin (the guitarist on “save me,” who contributed his parts virtually from France) become involved on the track?
SHIRA: Quentin and I worked at Studio 301 as interns together. He was a really talented music engineer, so he was sent to Sydney to help out around the studio. I remember hearing his own tracks recorded in one of the studios, and I was blown away. We stayed in touch via Instagram, and occasionally, he would post guitar stories, so I just thought “Fuck it, I can’t play guitar. Let’s try this out.” Before he came into the picture, the song had MIDI guitar, and honestly, it sounded terrible. Quentin really elevated the track and made it sound legit. It was hard working with somebody all the way in France, so I put a lot of trust in him to finish the guitar tracks to my liking, which he did. He blew me away, and now he is on nearly every track I have made.
Photo by Pietro Sassanelli
MM: So many artists have been fighting the stigma surrounding mental health, from supporting various non-profits to creating music that encourages a discussion. Were there any songs or artists that inspired you to speak about your own battles on “save me?”
SHIRA: Growing up, I was a weird kid, so all of the music I listened to was pretty “angsty.” Nirvana and Evanescence were my first favorite bands. They spoke to me on an emotional level, and I had always gravitated towards songs that gave me the same feeling. I then found Nine Inch Nails, and it changed my life. Trent Reznor speaks about mental illness in such an open way; it gave me courage to release my own story. In an old interview, he said that speaking about private things are “embarrassing,” but nonetheless important. Honestly, I also just don’t give a shit anymore about what other people think. I want to write music that will speak to somebody who is also going through tough shit, and hopefully it will make them feel less alone. Growing up, all I had was music; it was my closest friend, the only thing I could turn to and trust. I really hope to repay that debt, and help somebody else.
MM: Do you think that the pandemic / quarantine has given you more of a drive to create, or has it been more of a struggle?
SHIRA: No, it’s a burden. I no longer have a stable income. Everyone else is releasing music. It sucks. I was going to release music in 2020 before I even knew of the pandemic. It’s probably harder now to have eyes on you, as every artist is freaking out and doing livestreaming or releasing their own tracks. But honestly, I see it as more of a fun challenge and competition, to see how well I can do. If my music is actually good, it will stand out. If it’s not, I just have to work harder.
Photo by Pietro Sassanelli
MM: Will your future tracks have the same alt-rock vibe as “save me?”
SHIRA: Yes, the next song is fairly similar, just has to have a live drummer instead, and is a fusion of rock with heavy electronic synth lines. Another is a piano pop ballad. The other songs I have written, I am not entirely sure, as they aren’t 100% complete yet. But, I highly doubt I’ll ever leave the alternative sphere. My music will always be a fusion of electronic / rock / pop.
MM: What have you been jamming out to lately?
SHIRA: Deftones. Talk about the sexiest music ever.
MM: What are some things you are looking forward to doing once the pandemic is over?
SHIRA: Seeing my friends. Going shopping without having to wear a mask. Having a stable income again.
MM: Is there anything else you want to add?
SHIRA: Melodic Mag is the shit. Thank you, Christine, for being the OG, and the first publication to care about little old me. It means the world.
Thank you so, so much for talking with us, SHIRA! It was an absolute pleasure, and we cannot wait to see what you do next.
You can listen to “save me” on platforms like Spotify and Soundcloud.