- 01 Jul 20
Girl follows up Shaefri's debut EP Cracks, which was released in 2017.
Irish-Egyptian alt-pop artist Shaefri feels like she's grown up. The young songwriter's sophomore EP, out today, is a concept EP written about navigating complex relationships as a twenty-something. Using bright sonic elements and lush harmonies to amplify her identity, Girl is an unabashed step into power for Shaefri.
"I think you have to be careful when you try to write songs that discuss social issues," she says down the line from her home in London. "I write what I know and have experienced. As have most women and girls, I've experienced some form of sexual harassment if not worse, so that was an issue I wanted to talk about. I do that in 'Girl' and 'Kerosene'.
"'Say You'll Be There' is about depression and anxiety, and how you need to ask for help. '23' is about being okay with trying to find your own way and not putting too much pressure on yourself to have your whole life figured out. And then 'Home' is more of a personal one for me, it's a reflection on where I am now."
And where is she now?
"I'm a lot happier and more self assured, that's for sure. I've grown up a little bit. The EP is called Girl because it's representing the movement of growing up. It reflects a period of growth in the experiences that I've had, that I think have resonated with people because so many people experience similar things."
Shaefri knows that talking about mental health in media and in public forums can be difficult, and is conscious of finding a balance of healthy discussion without causing harm. "I think it's really important not to assume you know what you're talking about, or that you can offer significant help to anybody. Musicians and artists aren't therapists, and people have professional therapists for a reason," she says. "But mental health is becoming less and less taboo to discuss. I think people used to be embarrassed or see it as a sign of weakness."
As a particularly closed off person – although you'd never know it if she didn't tell you – Shaefri uses music as an avenue for expressing complicated emotions. "I don't really want to burden anybody, and I don't enjoy talking about it," she admits. "I wouldn't be as open talking to someone as I would be in a song like 'Say You'll Be There'. I am someone who needs to be forced to talk about things, I suppose" she says with a laugh.
Having spoken with plenty of songwriters, it's safe for me to say using songwriting as a mask is a trade secret that comes up often enough.
"I think you can really get vulnerable in a songwriting process," says Shaefri. "I wrote all the lyrics for Girl, but there are two producers I was working with throughout that whole time. When you're at a studio, tucked away somewhere, you can open up a lot more because it's such a private space. The creative part – for me – needs to be done in quite safe space, whereas I don't really mind performing publicly. Because an audience isn't there for the formation of the song, or the mistakes you make when your voice cracks or you don't get the lyrics right. You've got time to fix that before it's all played live. It's much less vulnerable. The whole process before that is incredibly sensitive."
Listen to the EP below.