- 10 Oct 16
A sometime Babyshambles collaborator, Mayo-born singer Shaefri has really found her creative voice with her new EP.
Shrouding her EP launch in the kind of secrecy that befits someone who has been quietly honing her sound in London for the past few years, Hot Press is pretty chuffed when Shaefri emerges from the studio for just long enough to discuss her future plans.
In the four years since she released her debut EP, Venture, the Mayo-born singer-songwriter has developed a more self-assured voice and astounding lyrical depth. With Pixelate – both the EP itself and its title track – the 22 year old finds a unique motif for untangling the threads of a dysfunctional relationship.
“Pixelating refers to the way pixels breaks out in chaos then reform in a stronger, more coherent order,” she explains. “The whole song is about going through the motions of feeling trapped, knowing you’re with the wrong person but enjoying it, and having that lust for them. Then at the end, it’s about breaking free, saying you’re not going to put up with anymore bullshit, and coming out stronger.
“I never normally find song titles before I write lyrics, but with ‘Pixelate’, I found myself fascinated with the word and what it could represent. There’s a sexual element too, in how nudity gets censored – it becomes pixelated and it can’t be seen. So I wanted to show what that felt like.”
Noting the naivety of some of her old songs, Shaefri feels “much more at home with electronic beats alongside a Celtic influence.” Time played its part, of course; so too did working with producer Craigie Dodds (Amy Winehouse, Leona Lewis), who gave the singer a new direction.
“He gave me the space I needed to break out,” she notes. “I found my voice and gained confidence. I felt like I had a young, London grounding to go with my Irish background. I was raised on Christy Moore and Clannad and that’s how I like to think, but the influence of my producers on the Irish sound was exactly what I wanted. I took time out to try and get the sound just right, because I haven’t been sure in the past. This time around, I’m absolutely certain about where I am, the style that I’ve arrived at, and the people I’m working with.”
A more mature sound, rather unsurprisingly, comes complete with more reflective subject matter. On ‘Monster’, for instance, Shaefri tackles personal mental health issues.
“Everyone goes through highs and lows,” she says. “‘Monster’ came at a time when I was feeling particularly self-destructive. One of the lyrics in the chorus is "Start beneath my bed then crawl into my head", which is about how, when you’re younger, you’re scared of what’s underneath your bed. Then as you grow older you internalise your fears and become afraid of what’s in you – what you’re capable of doing – and damage yourself. So to prevent that I needed to reflect on my own behaviour. I needed writing to help me because I’ve always found it to be therapeutic.”
Having previously played with Pete Doherty’s old muckers Babyshambles, and even written a few tracks with them, the Irish/Egyptian singer hasn’t been entirely MIA. But her new material has yet to be breathed into life at a live show, and Shaefri is itching to get back on the gig circuit.
“I love playing live,” she enthuses. “It’s been too long since I’ve been on the road. We’re releasing the EP date soon and we’ll start doing shows after that. The wave keeps rolling from there really. I’ll hopefully have an Irish date lined up for the New Year!”
With an EP launch so secretive that the venue in London hasn’t been announced yet, the singer isn’t exactly doing things conventionally. But for all those wanting to hear more from this talented artist, it’s going to be worth the wait.
And for the less patient – fancy a trip to London?