Queer electro-pop star Shura on survival, *that* lesbian London bus attack and preparing for doomsday
Queer electro-pop star Shura has spoken to PinkNews about being LGBT+ in 2019, both in the States and the UK, and has said that for queer people “trying to survive” is part of their day-to-day lives.
She is very busy. Three years in the making, her second album Forevher was released in August and she set off on her second US tour a month later, and in November the Forevher tour will continue in Europe.
She will also be returning to the UK this weekend, in the middle of the US tour, for HearHer Festival (October 11 – 13), which has an all female and non-binary line-up to battle gender inequality at festivals.
Shura said: “It would be really great one day not to have to have these places, but I think we’re a way off still. Especially if you look at some of the festival line-ups when they’re announced you’re like: ‘F**k me.’
“If you take away all the men, there’s three people playing it.”
She added that discrimination within the music industry “not as blatant” as it used to be, which makes it harder to fight.
“I don’t think [discrimination in the industry] works in a way that would ever be obvious to me. I think it’s not as blatant. If I had noticed then I would say something, but I think often discrimination doesn’t happen overtly.
“If it did you could just call it out and say: “You’re a f**king d**k.” I think often discrimination is something that’s happening without your knowledge. So I can’t say that I’ve directly experienced it, but that’s not to say that I haven’t ever been affected by it.
“Not only am I a woman but I’m also a queer woman, and so there’s whole other round of potential discrimination there.”
But as a queer woman in 2019, discrimination in the music industry is not all she has to worry about. Her last US tour was in 2016 with LGBT+ icons Tegan and Sara, and it took place shortly after the Pulse mass shooting in Orlando, Florida.
“Tegan and Sara had security on that tour because I guess they felt a sense of responsibility for bringing people to a place and it felt like they may or may not be vulnerable because of the political climate.
“I’m certainly aware of that [still] being true. It’s difficult because of the level I’m at, I’m playing club shows not theatres. It’s a bit harder to be careful.
“You’re always aware of it in America just because, apart from anything else, people have access to guns here… And of course it doesn’t help that the man in charge is slowly unravelling.”
The London bus attack on two lesbians was “shocking but not surprising”.
However it’s not just in America that she feels on edge as a queer person.
Shura added: “Politics in the UK is completely mad as well at the moment. It’s like we’ve found a glitch in a video game and we’re afraid to reset the system because we don’t want to lose our progress, but we’re therefore just stuck on this level going ‘Help, what happens next?’
“With certain people in charge and certain ideologies pushing the agenda, people are feeling kind of emboldened to yell at people on the street for holding hands, or kissing or whatever.”
Although she feels “relatively safe” in New York and London, the cities where she she spends most of her time, she found the horrific attack on two lesbians on a London bus in May this year “shocking but… not surprising”.
She said: “As a queer woman it was incredibly shocking but at the same time slightly not surprising. Because I don’t know a single lesbian, or queer person for that matter, that hasn’t at one point felt physically intimidated by a situation.
“I would be lying if I was to say I’m not conscious, or that I don’t ever modify my behaviour just in case.
“Anyone who’s gay has had that thought: ‘I really want to [hold my partner’s hand or kiss them] but I’ll check over my shoulder, is it worth it?’
“I think if a straight person read that they would think, in 2019, that checking over your shoulder is mad and crazy, but of course we do that without even thinking. It’s just a part of our DNA.
“I guess when people don’t have that as part of their day-to-day trying to survive, trying to just live, they’re really struck by that.”
Shura said her future holds music, kids and doomsday prepping.
Shura said she hopes to collaborate with other artists more after her US tour, but further in the future she said: “I’d definitely like to have some sort of cabin somewhere in the woods with lots of kids.
“I think I would be one of those people, there’s a name for them, ‘preppers’ I think? I’d quite like to have done some doomsday prepping.
“Not because I think that the world’s definitely going to end, although it probably is, I just quite like prepping things. I’m quite into organising and packing and I like the idea of a stock of tins.
“I’d like to have done another record, maybe started a family, I don’t know. It’s a long way away and it’s also going to be here tomorrow. Maybe I’ll write a book.”
The HearHer Festival takes place on October 11-13 at Sanford Holiday Park in Dorset. Click here for more info and tickets.