Wanting to make music a safe place to encourage people to pursue their dreams and not be influenced by others’ opinions, Shinyuu is the name with which multidisciplinary creative Luke Martin opens himself to the world through sound. Channelling what he feels through what he calls fearless sound, the artist is inspired by his fellow singer Alice Wonder, Rosalía and Lana del Rey, whom he considers as God and whom he met more than ten years ago and encouraged him to continue writing poetry, that features in his first album released today, toBto.
After experimenting with fashion for several years under his brand and having worked as a stylist, the time has come for this Spanish creative to fully immerse himself in music in a very exciting act of bravery. “I think I'm finding the courage to show something I always wanted to do but I was not brave enough to do it because no one believed or supported me,” Shinyuu tells us in this very personal interview in which we talk about his Maktub EP, which he unveiled a few weeks ago as a prelude to his just-released album, the differences he perceives between the music and fashion industries and healing through the composition of toBto, his new project.
Rejecting superficiality and trying to pursue honesty and passion at work, Shinyuu has created, together with some friends, among whom we also find the actress Mirela Balić with whom we spoke a few days ago in this interview attached, a creative community to try new things freely without fear of judgement while enjoying the process. All of them will of course be supporting him in his next live performance at Madrid Pride 2024, in which the artist will be presenting his latest project.
I’ve read that shinyuu means best friend or close friend in Japanese. Why have you gone for this nickname to present yourself to the world in the music scene?
Well, all the people I know always say I'm the kind of friend you can trust and I want with my music first of all [to] express myself but also help others to follow their dreams. I think the way some artists have inspired and helped me since I was a kid is to not give up and even if you don't know the artist as a person they have the ability to create a community and a safe place, in a certain way they are kind of a country with their own magic world. So I like as an artist to stay connected to people, I'm not [above] anyone. I'm just like your best friend making music in the room.
Do you have any special connections with Japan? What are the places that inspire you the most when creating?
That's funny but no (laughs). I'm more connected with the United States. There is no place to get inspired. As an artist I'm telling anything that happens in my life, so it doesn't really matter where I am, I can be at the studio for days and if there is nothing I need to say I'm not going to make anything. Ad maybe one day I just feel like I want to die or there is something I need to scream and with a piano or my friend and the guitar in a room, I can make 7 songs so fluidly. There are places like Málaga, Italy or LA where I can feel at peace. But inspiration can come anywhere anytime.
You have proven to understand creativity in a very broad way. First from fashion design and styling, which you have been working on for years, and now through sound. Are we facing a new chapter in your artistic career? Is this the end of your career as a fashion designer?
I think I’m finding the courage to show something I always wanted to do but I was not brave enough to do it because no one believed or supported me. I wouldn't say it's a new chapter because I've been always writing poetry and thoughts. The fashion that I love is the one [that] helps people to feel better, or [that] makes you dream of feeling like a superstar on a bad day, but I don't really like the fashion system. So it's not the end, I will come back once I've got something to say through fashion! I can't leave fashion because I am fashion.
Now you’re presenting your first work under the name Shinyuu, but how long have you been developing this project?
It's been kind of a year experimenting with sounds and voices.
Is it true that you started producing the EP you released at the beginning of June, Maktub, in a hotel room with the help of your singer friend Alice Wonder?
It all kind of started when we were working on her Benidorm Fest performance, where we were mixing fashion and music. She loves fashion and has good taste and I love music so we kind of help each other. So yeah, the beginning was like that. Later on I started to make it on my own and when we got time she still helped me to record vocals.
Maktub is not only the title of an essential book by Paulo Coelho in which he immerses us in a journey of transformation and self-reflection, but also an Arabic word that encompasses the idea that what is destined to happen will end up happening, correct? Why do you feel that now it’s the right time to officially introduce your musical alter ego to the audience?
Yeah, you got it! I thought it was perfect to show the process I've been through that even if I only get “you are not good enough for that” what is meant to be, it finds its way to be. I saw time going [past] so fast and I was like, fuck off, who cares. Let's make it.
In IDGAF, one of the singles from your latest work, you say “I'm not going to become a son of a bitch when I'm not one of those.” Do you think that the creative industry, whether music or fashion, sometimes brings out the worst in people? This is a sector in which public exposure is not always easy to manage, and many artists build a kind of armour to face criticism, competition and egocentrism.
Well, in the song I'm saying that because in the original version, I say in the lyrics something I've decided to change just to not hurt someone who was there listening. But regarding your question, of course I think that now it seems we only care about numbers, it doesn't matter about the art and truth and that's so sad. And I actually think is it a more poisoned thing in fashion rather than music, because fashion is so superficial. In music, there are a lot of artists that really care about emotions, art and this kind of stuff and they don’t do it for the public they do it just because they feel. However, in fashion, there are people who the only thing they want is to be seen just to feel cool. Young people in fashion can kill for a VIP ticket.
Now, three weeks after the release of your EP, you present your first album, toBto. Why have you decided to reveal your music in two parts and not just one?
Surprise! toBto is a love letter and also an interlude album! There is a third one coming out in September and it's called Salem. As a result of this journey, I've been going through. Maktub was the way I started to make music, that's why it's so experimental, toBto are the demos that I didn't know I was going to release but I've been sending to the person that inspires the album and that's why the only song that is really finished in the album is Mi Cora de Rave. It's because [it] is the first one from my new era and my first proper album because the third one is the place where I found my sound and my way (for now) in music. That's the main reason and also because of the content, in Maktub I'm leaving my past [behind]. In toBto, I'm talking about a recent situation with someone I've really loved but [parted ways from] recently. And Salem is the result of all I've been going through just because I'm a weirdo and my feelings are just not like the rest. As it says in one of the songs; “They destroy my house, they destroy my town. They are burning witches even if they are not."
“This album is a compilation of love letters where Shinyuu tells a recent story of intense and passionate love,” we read in the statement that comes along with your new project, in which you take voice notes and mix them with ambient sounds. Would you say the development of this album has been a healing process?
I think when you do art to express your feelings, it always helps to heal, but there is work to do out there. So we should say that the development of the album helps the actual healing process and I'm happy to be able to say things I've never got the chance to say to that person before, and I hope someday he will listen to it. I'm trying to use this album to fix two broken hearts and make them beautiful again.
Could you tell us more about the structure that toBto follows?
It's not really easy to find it as it is something too personal, there are just two people who actually can follow the structure of the album and it's just us two. The first two songs represent the day we met each other, it was all about passion. Then I'm telling when we go through the troubles with don't want to make u cry and just a dream, and with Fractal II you can see myself just getting fucking crazy. It represents the moment when you know the finish is there but you just don't want things to end up like that. After that starts the sadness period and finally, when you go through this, you have two options: falling down or making fun of it, turning [it] into art and getting up to go and kick some asses.
How would you define your sound? What artists and genres have inspired you in the creation of the album?
My sound is glitch, it's something I'm still working on but we can call it fearless sound. About influences let's say Lana del Rey is God. Two artists are [above] the rest in my mind: Alice [Wonder] and Lana del Rey.  Too many artists influence my work. For example, Kanye West. Even though I'm not his fan as a person I think he is a great producer and Yeezus, The Life Of Pablo and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy are wonderful albums. I also love Frank Ocean Blonde, it is a fucking masterpiece. Before I knew Lana when I was a kid, I saw Lady Gaga and her way of being so theatrical inspires me and makes me brave to be a weirdo. Lana appeared in my life so many years ago and her way of writing songs as poetry blows my mind. How she expresses a lot through it making her own life her work of art. I got the chance to meet her in 2013 more than 10 years ago and show her my poetry book and she encouraged me to keep writing. She was the only one that saw that I have too many things to say and how fucked up I was. My family and friends just laughed whenever I said I wanted to sing songs, they said I was not able to do that so I ended up in fashion (which I really love too) and then Alice [Wonder] was the one who saw potential in me, and saw that I was not made to give up. She encouraged me to follow my dream and when I was about to give up because I'm not a good singer yet and can't control my voice, she bought me a pedal with autotune and vocoder to be able to record and perform songs. Also, these two girls are so similar. Of course they have people helping to develop their music, but they create all their fucking music, they write and they know what they want to say. 
What do you like the most about them as artists?
After all this time seeing Lana's career, I still believe the artist I want to become is possible because I saw her being honest with her work, doing everything for passion and love, not for money.  I'm sure she can make songs with everyone she wants and she is still doing songs with artists that are not big stars yet but she truly likes them. It says a lot. I'm happy that fame doesn't change her, she is so powerful and she is still surrounded by people who love her, as her sister Chuck who is also a great artist. She does a great job with photography and video and she is still working with her managers since the beginning Ed and Ben. She created a safe place in the poisonous industry. She is God. So I should say I owe everything to Lana and Alice because of that but also I should mention Rosalía, because I love that girl and her mind I can see her so powerful, being determined and taking over the world singing in Spanish. She is a fucking legend! And one of the reasons why I started to produce my own music was because I wanted to use CUUUUuuuuuute for a fashion show, her management team didn't allow me to do so, so I said, ok, I'm gonna make my own CUUUUuuuuuute. Rosalía, Lana and Alice are my Holy Trinity. 
We started this interview talking about friendship and we have already mentioned Alice Wonder. But another one of your best friends, Mirela Balić, is also taking part in your musical project. Tell us more about this collaboration.
First of all the main thing is that we are all friends and we have our art community. Not just Mirela and Alice, but also Lejia, Cachetona and more. We just like to create things and jump from fashion to music to wherever but together. With Mirela, in particular, we have developed a loving relationship. Even if we are working we are friends first. When I made the first interlude I thought it would be great to have her on that just because I love her and I want her to have her place on this. She is a great actress that loves Lorca so she was perfect to share my message. And the second one in Nena q me ha bloqueado. It was because she knows the person who inspired the album and was like, let's laugh about it because we are not going to cry. It reflects how we are, even if we break we try to get the best from the worst. It's not that we are laughing about the guy (I fucking love him), it's just my way to not fall into a dark place and protect my soul.
If you had to define the inspiring moment that you are experiencing at this precise time in just three words, what would they be?
That's a good one: depression, empowerment and hope.
And what's next for Shinyuu? Will we see you performing live soon?
As I said there is an album coming up in September and I am keeping working on music. I'm releasing some bonus tracks in July. About performing live, my PR Oscar called me some days ago to say I'm going to be at Madrid Pride performing at Plaza España around 9:30 pm! How crazy is that? And then in September I'm going to do a live performance to present the 3 albums together. I would love to do a live performance in Málaga to try to sing the album in the place it was born to the person that I made it for. But it scares me a bit because I'm not Beyoncé. In Madrid, I could manage to make a concert with plenty of people, but I'm not sure I could bring people in Málaga to see me perform. But I want to.
What message would you like to send to all those people who are determined to pursue their dreams but do not dare due to fear or what others may think?
Just do it, because no one else will do it for you and the time God’s given us is limited. Too many people are not going to like it, but ask yourself who are you making this for and fuck up the rest. Too many people told me I should not release the album because it was risky, not finished and weird. They made me feel bad like I was going to fail, and I've realised that this album is for B, the only person I care about [if they] like it is him. And I'm sure even if we don’t talk he is going to be proud I got to make this. So just don't be insecure if your heart is pure. And as Lana says, “we are fucking crazy but we are free”.