Get to know: Shayu

There’s a few things that come to mind when thinking of Switzerland; alpine landscapes, chocolatey delights, gooey fondue. It’s safe to say grime-laden bassweight probably doesn’t pop up, but flying the white cross comes Coyote’s latest signee Shayu.

Her forthcoming work, All The Way Through nestles amongst the vibrant Coyote Discography. The UK grime staple remain ever-present in a developing scene; running parties, hosting a Rinse show, all whilst maintaining a considered and consistent output. As a result, Coyote are never close to losing relevance and always at the forefront of a conceptualised grime and club movement.

2019 has been a year where Shayu’s ascent carried gaining momentum – a Boiler Room show and multiple Fashion Show soundtracks have set aptly set the stage for All The Way Through. The EP itself lays on signature futuristic grime soundscapes that mimic the rolling terrain of Shayu’s homeland with undulating peaks and troughs, whilst harsher melodies take inspiration from a particularly tough spell in Bromley-by-Bow earlier this year.

Ahead of it’s release later this week, we caught up with Shayu to talk heritage, productive tendencies and catwalk prep.

On first listen, your music seems quite hard to define – in your own words, how would you describe it?

It`s me and my emotions, mostly melodic, sometimes dancy, dark, some have more ambient vibes and there is abstract stuff too. My influences come from grime, especially synth-heavy grime, baroque music, as well as influences from my travels, friends and daily life. Some of the sounds come from my Eurorack — I have different modules in there like a sequencer, wavetable etc. I record stuff and sample those recordings later on and see what I can get out of it.

You’re from Switzerland originally, are you still based there? Musically speaking, how did you find it growing up there, and what’s the scene like?

The scene here is pretty small, most of the people know each other. We have the German part (where I live) and then the French and Italian parts of Switzerland too. Most of my recent projects and sets have been based in the French part, but in general the scene here is very male-dominated, so I work with people from all over the place really which is great.

I was able to take piano lessons for many years and we had bands at school, which I loved playing in. As a kid, I also used to sit in front of my radio and record the newest hip hop and RnB tracks like from people like Beyonce or Ciara on tape. Then once I got a computer, I discovered BBC 1Xtra and listened to Charlie Sloth, Ronnie Here, Dj Target and some others. Often, I’d obsessed with tunes, but couldn’t find where to download them online, so I’d listen to the same show over and over again.

What’s your production process like, do you follow a formula when making tunes?

When I make tunes, I wanna be alone and mostly start in the morning. After a certain amount of time I need to do something visualy, like painting or editing photos and then continue with music. There is no formula per se, I just need to motivate myself, and if I can`t anymore sometimes I force myself do another 5 minutes and then sometimes something amazing happens – that can be fun. I can work on music anywhere. Nowadays I work mostly in my studio but I’ve worked on trains, in cafes, at home and even in libraries!

We’re big fans of Coyote here at Hyponik, how did you get involved with Tomas and the crew?

I’ve been a huge fan of the label since I found it online a few years back. I was obsessed and still am, especially with SRA but also E.M.M.A. I got Tomas’s email through a friend. This friend has been very supportive since we got to know each other and I`m very grateful for that, it means a lot.

You sound comfortable and at home on Coyote, is this the sound you’ve always pursued?

I`m super happy to release my new EP with them. I worked hard and 99% alone and had my struggles finding out how to create, built and shift certain sounds, melodies, structures, layers etc. Sometimes I’d get really frustrated being alone with it and this sound but I kept watching tutorials, read interviews and reviews, tried again and again and I have this drive to keep going so life is good. I felt those tracks really matched with the label and I’m glad Tomas saw it the same way. I’m composing other sounds at the moment too, using my voice, my bass guitar and even for performances or fashion shows, but I always really want to work on the grimy tunes most for some reason. I’d love to work with MCs someday and until I find them or they find me, I have more instrumentals ready. Hopefully when I go back to London next time!

So your new EP All The Way Through is inspired by a stay in Bromley-by-bow this summer. Firstly, how did you end up there, and what was it exactly that you found inspiration in?

I knew I wasn`t far away from where grime emerged. Back in 2013 I had a job in fashion and my ex was based there. I stayed in London for about a year or so in total and I had to move like 4 times. Bromley-by-Bow was one of the places and it was deep winter when I arrived there. It was a struggle!

You’ve also sound tracked catwalk show too, the Xander Zhou AW19 collection at Oval Space. I’ve always been interested in the thought process behind running a sound track for a fashion show, themes and moods to cover etc. Were you given a brief to work with or were you given free rein? How did you approach this?

Actually I soundtracked two shows this year! The other one was in Shanghai for Xander Zhou’s show in May. He’d listened to my tunes on my Soundcloud and told me which ones were his favourite. He gave me a brief — what he imagined and all the ideas, info, inspirations, text, photos etc about his collection — but I was very free with the composition. That said, he did ask me for some specific sounds, which meant I recorded some stuff in a chemistry lab! The Showsound itself was around 20 minutes long but I also did the intro sounds (when people are coming in, looking for seats etc), which was much more abstract.

You also did a Boiler Room set this year in Shenzhen, how does this rank in your career achievements so far?

It was fun and definitely something special for me because it was in Shenzhen, a crazy futuristic city. I had a great time with Lao and Nick Hook, I hung out with them in Hong Kong too we also did some radio. I improvised on Nick’s new Keyboard that he bought from a local market and we talked a lot about music and ate some good food. Boiler Room itself wasn’t on my to do list but I’m glad I did it.

What’s in store for 2020?

In 2020, I’ll be releasing my next EP with another well known label and beyond that, I’d like to develop my A/V show and release some collaborative tracks. I’d also love to compose music for a short film and hope to collaborate more with visual artists, too.

All The Way Through releases Friday 29th November 2019 via Coyote Records.

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