Singer Shura Gives Us 13 Shades of Blue

Published August 15, 2019

Photo by Hollie Fernando.

No one knows blue quite like Shura. The British singer, known for her electro-pop odes to unrequited love, broke through the noise of the music landscape on Nothing’s Real, her debut record rife with coming-of-age anxieties and ’80s synths. In the same vein of the cerulean-tinged works of Maggie Nelson, Joni Mitchell, and Yves Klein, Shura sets out to blend her own shade of blue with her second album, forevher, born out of a transcontinental love story. “For me, the blue of forevher is actually quite a passionate color,” she explains. “Making this record I’ve come to notice it everywhere. In text messages, Facebook, on the street. Everywhere I look, I notice blue. Which is exactly what it’s like being in love.” As a self-confessed bluephile (and, perhaps, the music industry’s current leading expert on the color), we asked Shura her thoughts on 13 different shades of blue, which evoked memories of fizzy elbows, Nina Simone, and the Icelandic night sky, along with reactions both stressed and sentimental.

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“This was fast and super easy for me because it reminds me of the color that I painted the walls of my fake bedroom for the album cover of Nothing’s Real. It reminds me of me. I had to build a fake bedroom to do the photoshoot. We didn’t have to, but if we shot it in my bedroom it would be really boring.

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“It reminds me of that Hockney painting of the swimming pool, which I then Googled after, and I was like, ‘It’s nothing like that blue.’ It reminds me of the color in a dream world, how you wish your swimming pool to be. Also Frank Ocean’s song ‘Swim Good.’

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“I love navy. It’s probably one of my favorite blues. This one reminds me of my bathmat in my apartment in New York, so I associate it with bath time, which is the best time ever. If I could have a bath every day, I’m a happy lady, which is like really bad for the environment, I’m sure. But it’s a stressful life, it’s a stressful job. Self-care is important, and baths are a part of that.”

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“I don’t know what you call this in America, but you know when you hit your funny bone, and it’s, like, the worst feeling in the world? Zingy arm? This reminds me of this time last week where I accidentally hit my girlfriend’s knee with my elbow and my arm was fizzing for like 30 minutes afterward. I love this color blue, but this is not a positive memory. It kind of feels like it feels like electricity. It reminds me of a fizzy elbow.”

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“This is a blue that I feel, at some point, was a better blue, but it’s faded. It’s lost its sheen. It kind of reminds me of a vapor trail, which made me think of ‘Ride’ by Vapour Trail, which is incredible song.”

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“This is my least fave. One, it reminds me of these sweets called Parma Violet, which are only from the UK. They’re made with flowers and they look purple and delicious, but then they taste like flower and soap. You’re given them as kids, and you’re like, ‘Oh great, candies! I’m so excited!’ And then you put them in your mouth, and you’re like, ‘Christ.'”

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“This is not the same color, but it reminds me of my French worker’s jacket, which is my favorite jacket on the planet. I wore it on the cover of Nothing’s Real, and it became the kind of blue that I used for this new record, which I feel like is strange that I had it on my first album cover and didn’t realize. It’s just quite rich. Also, if that was the icing of a cake, I’d be really intrigued to eat it if it was that color.”

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“This is also a traumatic color for me. It reminds me of powdered toothpaste. It makes me think of grittiness, and also I just think baby blue, and anything that’s forced on you as a child to do with your gender, makes me stressed out. It definitely is the color of a wall in a dentist’s office. They think it’s calming, but really it’s not because you know you’re at the dentist and you’re like, ‘Well, you’re going to put some horrible instruments of torture in my mouth.'”

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“It’s a really fabulous name for a color. I went to Iceland for New Year’s in 2017 into 2018, and I spent this night floating in this blue lagoon, looking up at the sky, watching shooting stars. This reminds me of the color of the sky because it’s dark, but it kind of glows.”

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The Devil Wears Prada. The scene where Meryl Streep’s trying to pick a belt, and then is talking to Anne Hathaway about her jumper, and then she sort of goes, ‘What you don’t know is that sweater was selected for you by the people in this room from a pile of stuff.’ That’s such a great scene.”

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“You know Lilo and Stitch? This color reminds me of the color of Stitch’s belly. I’m really afraid of flying, so my therapist was like, ‘You should buy a cuddly plush toy.’ So I went to a Disney store and bought a Stitch for no reason, probably because he was blue. And now all my fans think I’m obsessed with Lilo and Stitch, so they bring me Stitches to my gigs. Obviously, I love Stitch now as a result, but it was sort of just a happy accident. I strap him in with me if I’m flying alone, which is most of the time, and the flight attendant’s always like ‘Who is this crazy, adult woman with a Stitch?’ I have probably been given maybe only five or six, and I also was given a Stitch onesie, other Stitch things, anything with Stitch on it. It’s fun. I give the little Stitches to my cats because they love playing with him for some reason. They’ve got lots of Stitches and a miniature Donald Trump, which they like more, which I like.”

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“This is the color of a dusty study full of old, leather-bound books, which has a really nice smell, which is also the color I’d paint the walls of my study. It would make me feel really smart, like I was at a lecturer at a university, but actually I wasn’t, it’s just that I’ve painted my wall that way. I can smell the books, the books I’ve never opened, they’re just there for decoration.”

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“This reminds me of ‘Lilac Wine’ by Nina Simone. I guess because it looks like the color, really. I love that song. I also like the Jeff Buckley version, but Nina’s is a classic. One of the best.”