‘Touch’, Shura‘s debut, gossamer-light take on keening pop, arrived as if from nowhere: a lyrical snapshot of that awkward friend-zone period post-break-up, it has since translated into over 20 million plays, a nomination for the BBC Sound Poll, appearing on ‘Later…with Jools Holland’ and praise from Dev Hynes and Jungle to Mumford & Sons (who covered ‘2Shy’ on Radio 1’s Live Lounge). “It’s like someone’s taken something really shiny and rubbed it with sandpaper,” Shura says of her instantly-recognisable sound, which continues to evolve from her parents’ colourful musical household (Dad’s prog vinyl, her brother’s drum-and-bass DJ’ing) to Shura’s own learning curve on the acoustic open-mic circuit.
Quite how she’s ended up here is still a surprise to Shura herself. Born in London but raised in Manchester – with occasional trips to Russia, to visit her actress-mother’s homeland – Shura’s subsequent interest in electronic music was almost benched entirely: as a teenager, she played for Manchester City Girls for five years, before a “Lara Croft moment” saw her travel to South America after her studies. It proved to be a trip which not only broadened Shura’s personal horizons – “in the jungle, everything wants to kill you” – but also gave her the time to articulate a messy break-up into emotional, heartfelt Pop. Shura returned determined to throw herself into things, writing songs in the night-shift role of a video editor in Shepherds Bush, and recruiting her friends to kiss on camera for ‘Touch’: many of whom turned up one year later in ‘Indecision’, another striking treatment on sexuality, otherness and shared passions.