Fostering an internal fulfilment, Shamir is the multidisciplinary indie rock artist taking his legacy into his own hands. Coupling honest lyricism with a dynamic sound, the artist’s latest release offers up an insightful embodiment of his queer experience navigating the straight world. Heterosexuality is out now.
Your latest album Heterosexuality is out – congratulations! What topics are addressed within the new release?
My typical topics of solitude and connection, as well as my relationship with the straight world.
In recent years there’s become a canonical shift in musical queer expression, moving away from nuanced allusions to queer relations. Is this something you have purposefully implemented within the titling of tracks from Heterosexuality?
I think anytime I've talked about my queerness in music, it's always been explicitly head on. Straight Boy from my 2017 album Revelations is definitely an early example of me figuring out how to write in a way that would allow me to do a full project like this one.
Within your book, But I’m a Painter, you offer a candid insight into the overwhelming pressures you experience as an artist. It’s an honest take which I feel a lot of creatives will resonate with. Could you tell us some more about the sentiments addressed within the prose?
Yeah, I mostly mention my gripe with the expectation to constantly monetise as an independent artist. I understand most independent artists don't have much of a choice, but I also think it's important to have some facets of our creativity sacred.
Through collaboration with AI design studio, Urbancoolab, you launched a charity clothing line, Bipolar Butterfly, which features colourful vector designs of butterfly iconography. What was the creative direction behind this collection?
Well I definitely wanted to centre the butterfly imagery, because it's such a symbol of peace and stability for me. The cool thing about AI is all I had to do is collect a bunch of references I like, then it did the work for us. The stuff isn't instantly done though, we still had to polish and organise the designs. The stuff AI comes up with is still a bit disorganised and needs further human curation.
Given the historic underrepresentation of non-binary people in the media and more specifically in the music industry, is the knowledge that you’re providing visibility for future generations an entirely positive one or does this come with a duty of expectation?
 It absolutely comes with a fat ass duty of expectation, but that doesn't make the work any less positive. We aren't a monolith and not everyone is going to agree with me or have my experience and that's fine.
On the album cover you appear crowned in curling horns, emulating an almost Luciferian creature. What was the creative sentiment behind this imagery?
I feel demonic sometimes, and think I look pretty cool in horns.
On the topic of visual imagery, would you say your musical and fashion expressions are heavily intertwined? Do you associate particular times of your musical trajectory with different styling decisions?
I think I definitely have visual eras in correlation with my albums, but I think this and the last one were the first time it was intentional.
Fresh off tour with indie rock singer-songwriter Lucy Dacus, have you plans to tour Heterosexuality upon its release?
Definitely. I think even though touring is opening back up it's still very dicey, so I just want to do things that make sense.
You’ve previously discussed how the music we hear from you today is your most authentic sound yet, in comparison to your previous work. Was it daunting at any point to move away from a sound that had garnered you such success?
It was only daunting in a very superficial way. There has been nothing more internally fulfilling than following my muse as an artist and taking my legacy into my own hands.
Your discography currently collates an impressive array of projects, with some records pertaining to a more experimental strain. Would you say your sound is constantly developing? And if so, does this morphism coincide with changes occurring in your life?
Yes, I think my ever-evolving sound is certainly in response to my every-changing and evolving life. I almost look at my albums as scrapbooks of different points of my life.
Your work exhibits an impressive sonic diversity, where pop hooks nestle atop melding layers of industrial synth and imposing vocals. Can you assign your inspiration to any particular genres or artists?
Well for Heterosexuality we listened to a lot of Björk of course. I'm also clearly inspired by ‘90s alternative rock like Swervedriver and Kitchens of Distinction. I also really love folk metal like Emma Ruth Rundle.
In 2019 you founded your very own record label, Accidental Popstar Records. What was the core objective of this project? Was its production in any way a response to your disdain with existing managerial practice in the music industry?
Yeah totally. I wanted to have something where I can shepherd new artists into the industry in a more healthy and sustainable way than I was. Basically I help new artists develop naturally from the ground up, without any normal industry pressure.
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