It is a truth universally acknowledged that dating apps are, more often than not, The Fucking Worst. If you’re not being ghosted or getting catfished, you’re having to find subtle ways to wheedle out someone’s height or trying to battle through shit ‘two truths, one lie’-style opening icebreakers. Imagine, then, having the added pressure of a famous face, and knowing that, with every match, your profile is probably being excitedly shared around multiple fan WhatsApp groups.
It’s a waking nightmare that happened to Shura IRL one night, while on tour in Boston. “I was recently single and a fan screenshotted my Tinder and put it on Twitter like, ‘Hope we match!’,” she reminisces. “I was mortified!” Relaying the horror to a friend, they told the English electro-pop singer about celeb-friendly dating app Raya, which has a strictly no screenshotting rule, and she signed up immediately. Passing through New York on the way back to London a while later, she matched with someone who would turn out to form the inspiration for her upcoming second album, ‘forevher’.
The forthcoming record - set for release on 16th August via Secretly - documents Shura falling in love in a very 2019 way; over the phone, whilst on opposite sides of the world. “It got to the stage where we were texting all day every day, and then it went to phone calls,” she smiles. “I think when we got to four or five-hour-long phone calls every few days, I was like, ‘We should probably go on a date, I’ll fly out’. So I set up a bunch of meeting in New York and called all of my friends out there to be my backup in case it went really badly. But obviously, it went really well and we’re still together!”
"I think it is a queerer, and a camper record."
Thematically, the record stands in stark contrast to her 2016 debut ‘Nothing’s Real’, which charted the singer’s difficult breakup with heartbreak anthems that would pull on even the harshest of heartstrings (if ‘Touch’’s central lyric “I only need you to be friends with me” doesn’t get you, you must be made of stone). “About three quarters of the way through [writing ‘forevher’] I was like, ‘What the fuck? How did I go from writing a breakup album to being like, ‘I’m so in love’? Like, what the actual fuck?’,” she laughs. “I was like, ‘Maybe I’ll whack two songs in there about being mortal, and death, and questioning my existence just for good measure.’ Something sad in there so that people aren’t disappointed that I’m really happy now.”
Throughout the new record, Shura depicts the emotional rollercoaster of catching feelings over a sultry R&B-flecked synth soundtrack. There’s ‘religion (you can lay your hands on me)’, the first song she penned for the album, that’s a “sexy sex jam” about the initial thrill of a new relationship when all you want to do is bang. As the album moves along, feelings evolve past lust, with tracks like ‘princess leia’ exploring the idea of having so much more to lose; the ethereal ‘tommy’, meanwhile, dives into the idea of “forever” in reference to love. And her girlfriend’s favourite track? Upbeat ‘80s-esque pop bop ‘the stage’, which is about their first date at a MUNA concert.
Where Shura didn’t use gender-specific pronouns in her debut, ‘forevher’ instead is an unfiltered look into her real-life relationship and the fact that she’s queer. “When you’re in love, you’re almost more vulnerable than when you’re talking about being vulnerable. It’s the most vulnerable position you can be in. It felt important for me to be specific and to use pronouns because I was talking about a love affair that I was going through,” she explains. “When you’re talking about breakups, I feel it’s almost as if you’re talking not only about that breakup but about every breakup you’ve had. So that’s why I’ve used pronouns. I think it is a queerer record, and a camper record. It’s not as bombastic in some ways, but it’s definitely more camp and theatrical and more confident. I’m always going to write about my experiences and they just so happen to be queer.”
But what does her girlfriend/muse think about the album? “We kept joking that I’m that really creepy girlfriend who writes an album about you,” Shura giggles. “I think she really likes it. What is interesting is that we can both listen to it now and it doesn’t really feel like it’s about us because it’s done. There’s no weird awkwardness; it’s just its own thing now. When you finish something it’s sort of like you relinquish control, and it belongs to other people.”
Time to get right-swiping. If there’s any proof that dating apps can actually work, ‘forevher’ is the perfect piece of evidence.
'forevher' is out 16th August via Secretly Canadian.
As featured in the August 2019 issue of DIY, out now.