My Favourite Game
Shura on alien contact, the Asari, and childhood temper tantrums
The daughter of a Russian actress and an English documentary maker, singer and producer Shura grew up around performers. Now the 24-year-old is about to release her debut album and kicks off her first UK headline tour in September after a spate of festival appearances. But despite this burgeoning musical career, one of her foremost concerns is the exact release date of Mass Effect: Andromeda. Your track White Light was inspired by an encounter with an alien in Mass Effect 2. What was the encounter? I used to work in a postproduction facility and one of the guys there was like, “You’re into science fiction; you’ve got to play Mass Effect.” I hadn’t heard of it, and was a bit dubious, because I’m so picky when it comes to games – I either complete them or I play them for two days and then never pick them up again. I started with ME2, because they hadn’t yet released the first one on PS3, and managed to time finishing it with the release of Mass Effect 3. So I played 2 and 3 on the trot and it changed my life. I became obsessed with the Asari. I found them really interesting as a race, and I loved the universe the game created. Probably since Stars Wars, it’s the most affecting sci-fi universe I’ve ever entered. So much so that you tweeted your concern over Andromeda releasing before your album’s finished. [Laughs] I really was concerned, because I’m going to have to play it immediately. Hopefully by the time it comes out, not only will my album also be out, but I’ll have done the bulk of the touring. I think I can maybe time the two weeks off I have between album one and album two precisely with Mass Effect: Andromeda. That’s my main aim in life, for those to coincide. Otherwise, it’s definitely coming on the tour bus, but I get so into it that I won’t be able to interact with anyone. I’ll just be headphones on, crying, laughing, going through these extremes of emotion. What kind of games do you tend to take on tour with you? So far, we’ve mainly done flying shows; we haven’t yet got to the stage where we go on a sleeper bus, so I can’t really take that much in the way of games with me. What I have been playing is Monument Valley, which I absolutely love. I love the idea of this little girl running around with a dunce hat on, just trying to figure shit out. That inspired a lyric in another song, actually! Eventually, I’ll be able to take my PlayStation 4 on tour, and hopefully by that time there will be some more games that I like, too. Nothing’s taken your fancy on PS4 yet? Well, I really loved watching Alien: Isolation, but it was too scary for me to actually play! My twin brother, Nick, loves scary games, so we kind of alternate between watching each other play different games. I enjoyed watching The Last Of Us, too, but so far there’s nothing that I’ve really wanted to play. So I’ve got the hardware and I’m just waiting for the perfect game, which is probably either going to be Andromeda or Metal Gear Solid V. I’m a massive Metal Gear fan as well, although it gets a little bit frightening for me sometimes, because I have a massive phobia of being chased. Your music is tinged with a nostalgia for ’80s synth pop – do the games from your childhood also feed into that element of sentimentality? Oh, absolutely. I have a huge archive of sounds from videogames, and especially when I’m doing remixes I’ll borrow, say, the sound of a melee attack from Smash Bros. I am a very nostalgic person, and videogames are a huge part of that. The start of White Light is really heavily inspired by Gustavo Santaolalla’s music for The Last Of Us, and a great dream of mine is to one day be involved in the score of a game.
“Especially when I’m doing remixes I’ll borrow, say, the sound of a melee attack from Smash Bros”
Until then, what’s your favourite game? If I’m not being biased, because I’m massively into sci-fi, I think Ocarina Of Time has to be the greatest game of all time. For what it did, when it did it, it was such an amazing story. I remember a few weeks before the Christmas it came out, my dad said, “Shu, I’m really sorry, but I couldn’t get it. It was sold out everywhere.” We were in Dixons and I started having this massive tantrum because I was so upset. And then on Christmas day it turned up, and I just suffered the most incredible wave of guilt combined with euphoria, which is quite an important lesson to learn as a child.