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STRAND Showcase Spotlight: In Conversation With FHUR

Image provided by FHUR. Credit: Girlfriend Creative

Welcome to our STRAND Showcase Spotlight series, where if you haven’t pencilled in the date for our upcoming live music showcase yet, we show you why you should.

Another year of course means another Strand Magazine live music showcase, which means another STRAND Showcase Spotlight series. On January 25th, the STRAND and FEMMESTIVAL will be welcoming an unforgettable roster of alternative female artists to our next showcase stage at the Star of Kings in King’s Cross.

FHUR, a maestro of the dark electro-pop genre and all-around production aficionado, is up first on our live show lineup (or should we say, up FHUR-st?). I start our interview by asking her how she first got into music (and narrowly avoid making the pun for a second time).

“I never studied music or production, so I'm fully self-taught. I started playing around with software and stock sounds, and just figured out what I like. Also, when I was a teenager, I started listening to a lot of electronic music; I would just go to Tumblr and try to find all of the most unknown songs ever. That's how my sound first developed.”

However, it sounds like the music scene back in FHUR’s hometown wasn’t quite as open-minded as the Tumblr-centric cyberspace she took inspiration from. She tells me about the difference between the music scene in Italy, compared to here in London. “I've always felt like myself and my music didn't fit in in Italy. For example, I wrote my single ‘We Just Want To Have Fun’ in 2019, and I can remember so many times where people walked out on me and my band while we were performing it.

“But just one month after I moved to London in January 2020, I was contacted directly on Instagram to play my first show, and I thought that was really cool. I think London is definitely more open in terms of creativity. There's just a different approach to music and emerging artists here, and I felt like everything started falling into place.”

Image provided by FHUR

Having seen FHUR live myself before, I find it hard to believe that anyone could come away from one of her performances feeling anything but amazement. Her live setup involves an array of launchpads, keys and dials, like a musical aeroplane cockpit. “I built my current setup, with all my music gear around me, because I feel that I need to do something while I’m performing,” she admits. “I'm not someone who can just stand with a microphone; I have many friends who perform like that and I admire them a lot, because it takes a lot of personality to just stand in front of the crowd and express yourself with your body, which I struggle to do. Having my gear around me is first a way of creating a safe space for myself to perform in.

“Then I like to use it to create a version of the song that is a bit different to the recorded track. I’ll open up the structure, and I’ll twist different knobs and press keys, to create some fun moments. Since I've been performing live more and more recently, when I produce a song now, I often think about how I would perform it live during the process. So I think the two things have started to feed into each other.”

Given the complexity of both her sound design and her live setup, I’m even more impressed to consider she’s completely self-taught. Was it a challenge to teach herself from scratch? According to her, the major issue was not so much technical, as it was about keeping alive her creative spark. “One of the things that I remember from when I first started producing my own music is my spirit of exploration and curiosity. I remember being very excited, and not really caring about what it sounds like, just being so happy to have created something. I would spend entire days just experimenting on Logic.

“I think that's something I miss a lot, now that I'm more skilled than I used to be. Nowadays I’m so focused on wanting things to sound good, and sometimes you can get caught up in that and lose the creative process.”

Image provided by FHUR. Credit: Girlfriend Creative

That being said, FHUR’s creativity seems to be at an all-time high right now. “I’ve spent a big part of this year working on my new EP. I have two more singles to release before it comes out. One is going to come out in January, possibly the week of the showcase it’s one of my most favourite songs I’ve ever written, and I produced it in collaboration with Eliade [Krön], who I made ‘Scissors’ with last year. The second single, called ‘King’, will come out in February or March, followed by the EP.

“I've also already been working on my third EP: I have the title, the title track, and the mood. I just need to finish producing the songs. Behind the scenes I'm also working to become a full-time songwriter and producer. I love working with other people because it's a way of exploring alleys I usually wouldn't with my music. I'm hoping to perform at some festivals, too.”

Speaking of songwriting, FHUR’s vision for her music is to create “moody tracks that let you explore and release feelings, soak in life, [and] cry on the dancefloor”. With FHUR taking the stage right before our second artist, the hair-flicking, whiplashing, run-into-battle Bridget., we can’t wait for the emotional rollercoaster we’re in for. I ask her how she landed on wanting to make music which people can cry on the dancefloor to. “My music sort of came to me from the way I feel as a person. I don't write about things that I haven't experienced. I like to use my music to share what's going on inside my head with everyone: like pain, or happiness, or love. It becomes an emotion everyone can experience with me. I was always quite a shy person who didn’t really open up to others, so writing has been a way to just let out all those things which otherwise would just be in my journal.”

FHUR’s most recent release is far from a song to cry to, though: with its frenetic blips and thumping electronic bassline, ‘Tricep’ — made in collaboration with fellow producer Ōkubi — is a song bound to get you up on your feet, your half-pint sloshing over the rim of your glass in your haste to get to the dancefloor. “At the end of 2022, after I’d released ‘We Just Want To Have Fun’, Ōkubi came to me to say he’d had an idea for a project, and sent me the first verse. Then I made the chorus, and I thought, ‘Oh my God, this is the best thing I've done in months. I'm so happy about this’.

“The project kind of stopped last year when I focused a lot on putting together my EP, but at the end of 2022 we decided to finish the track. It’s called ‘Tricep’ because we originally wanted to make something in the style of the band Bicep, so it was just a funny working title at first. We thought about changing the name once it was finished, but it felt kind of weird and cool, and gave the impression of the ‘iron fist’ dynamic we were trying to talk about in the song. It’s about a relationship which is a struggle, but which you keep going back to. So we kept the title.”

Despite everything FHUR’s had in the works lately, being an artist can sometimes be just as much of a struggle, she admits. “There are definitely a lot of days where I think, ‘Why am I doing this?’ — but then I just look at my older demos and think about how far I’ve come. It’s really a daily choice to be kind to yourself, and surround yourself with people that support you as well. Another big part of our day-to-day lives is social media, and I struggle a lot with comparison; you’re always seeing other people's successes and you feel like you’re never doing enough. Learning to believe in yourself is really a lifelong journey, and it’s a very brave one.”

Nevertheless, social media isn’t all bad, as she explains. “The good side to social media is that I’ve seen a lot of artists who have blown up online and have found their audience. For example, there are a lot of women who now teach production on TikTok. When it comes to being a woman in the music industry, from a grassroots point of view, I do think it’s changing: I see a lot of female creatives really dominating the scene nowadays.

FHUR is no doubt one of them. Among her series of informative and interesting TikToks and Instagram reels is nested an especially entertaining multi-part series called ‘If Artworks Were Sounds’. “My favourite artwork of all time,” FHUR tells me, “is one I mentioned in the second video in the series, called the ‘Isle of the Dead’ by Arnold Böcklin. It’s a cemetery island, and two people are travelling towards it in a small boat, and it just makes me feel very calm.”

'Isle of the Dead' by Arnold Böcklin

I find it interesting that she’d say it’s calming, because I’m sure that for some people the idea of an ‘Isle of the Dead’ would seem a bit macabre. I tell her as much.

“That’s the beauty of it: that from any type of art anyone can take what they want to. It’s the same with my songs: for example, ‘We Just Wanna Have Fun’ was a song I wrote at a time when I didn't have any friends, and I was always at home hoping for my life to change. But now it's a big anthem that people dance to at the end of my live shows, and it's so upbeat. I think the art belongs to the artist, just as much as to everyone who comes into contact with it.”

Coming into contact with others through art is also how FHUR envisions the possibility of a more flourishing music industry. “I think if you change your own world and inspire people around you, that might seem like a small change, but it's actually a very impactful change because it's something you can control and nurture.”

I’m certain that FHUR’s set at our January showcase will be just as inspiring, especially now we’ve heard all about how much work goes into her performances behind the scenes. I ask her how she’s feeling about opening the show. “I'm really excited. I think it's a great opportunity to perform with FEMMESTIVAL as well as the Strand Magazine. One of my goals for this year was to choose and attract more opportunities where my music can be properly appreciated, and I think this showcase is perfect, so I’m grateful to be a part of it.

“I'm also not performing live at all in December, so I think it’s going to be a great comeback for the new year, and I want to work on the live set to make it even better for when I return to the stage. I'm also looking forward to performing alongside Bridget. and NXKXTA, and the Star of Kings is a great venue. I can’t wait to promote the release of my new song in that setting.”

Make sure you don’t miss out on the exclusive chance to listen to FHUR perform her upcoming EP - come on down to our STRAND X FEMMESTIVAL showcase at the Star of Kings on 25th January.

This live music showcase is part of KCLSU’s Arts and Culture Festival 2024, taking place from 20th January - 2nd February.


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