We were lucky enough to catch up with London-based duo RUMARA, for a full interview, following the wonderful release of ‘Storm’. Read now!
What got you into making music together?
Laura: We’ve moved in the same musical circles for a long time. We first met when we were teenagers in a dingy corner of Streatham, where our respective bands were both booked to play a gig above a pub. Once we got over the seething teenage rivalry of that initial meeting, we went on to form a funk rock band along with a couple of our mates and did a lot of gigging around London together. Fast forward a few years and a few different projects, and Rumara was eventually born.
Yujin: For me, I like to trace it back to one of my old beats that used some vocal samples of Laura that I had from a recording session with the funk-rock band. It was originally this dark instrumental number with washy synths and growling subs, but then I added these vocal samples in, and they pulled out this amazing emotive quality from the music and gave the song a face to express with. When I finished that song, I knew that I had to try making music with Laura outside of the familiar context of guitars and drums in a rehearsal room.
Who influenced your latest release, ‘Storm’?
Laura: It’s an amalgam. Vocally I wanted it to be a really emotive performance inspired by some of the classic pop powerhouses like Sia, Xtina, even Aretha. But the production has a harder, more industrial edge that kind of subverts that “poppy” topline. And then the strings leaven it with this transcendent, cinematic quality. It’s a song about trying to find a haven somewhere, only to feel simultaneously trapped and protected in the prosthetic, man-made surroundings of the city. It was a difficult emotion to distil.
Yujin: I wanted this song to be a real big hitter, so I was also thinking along the lines of Sia for this tune. But as the lyrical ideas started to develop, I also wanted to contrast this power with the dreamy soundscapes of Goldfrapp or even Tame Impala to evoke this sense of duality. But all the credit really goes to the film A Star Is Born as I decided to start this beat after hearing some background electronic music in the film!
What draws you to the electronic-pop genre?
Laura: Its vast scope! We never set out to make a particular genre of music, but I do love how immersive and richly textured the electronic genre allows us to be. Having spent years playing in classic four-piece bands with guitars, it was like being a kid in a candy shop suddenly having all these sounds at our disposal. It meant we could create a truly three-dimensional sonic world.
Yujin: Yes, it’s got to be the basically infinite arsenal of sounds that are at our disposal. The level of control we have over the sounds we use is so liberating, and it allows us to really play with aspects of sounds that are just not possible in the traditional band setup.
Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Laura: I don’t have heroes, particularly, but I think it’d be great to work more with other local musicians. Yujin and I sort of evolved out of a collective of other bands and musicians and friends from South London, and working with your friends is the best kind of collaboration.
Yujin: I’m not particularly thinking about collaborations at this point in time, either. But if we’re talking in the realm of dreams, then I wouldn’t mind hanging out with Nigel Godrich in his studio and having a go on some of his gear!
What’s your dream venue to play?
Laura: Intimate venues are my favourite. And they have to be very dark. I’d like to be close enough to the audience to see the whites of their eyes, or at least to be in slightly intimidating proximity. Those are my only criteria.
Yujin: I don’t have a particular dream venue, but an aspiration of mine is being able to incorporate visual elements to our live shows. So the dream venue has to be able to project this on a big display.
Other than music, what are you passionate about?
Laura: Art, literature, fashion, languages, dance… I trained in dance growing up, and for many years I wanted to be a dancer. Part of me still wants to be a dancer.
Yujin: If I didn’t play music, I like to think I’d be running my own Ramen food stall.
What changes would you like to see in the music business?
Laura: The same changes I’d like to see in all the arts: more opportunities for newcomers to make a sustainable living. Making and releasing music is, in many ways, still seen as a luxury hobby, and it shouldn’t be. I’d like to see the arts in general afforded more value and weight by those in power.
Yujin: I would want the major streaming services to start being more transparent about the earnings from streams. Every artist, no matter how big or small, should be treated equally in this regard.
How do you feel about how the internet plays a role in the music business today?
Laura: Conflicted. The industry is, to all appearances fragmenting online, but of course, most of it is still controlled by the same major players, so this apparent decentralization can be quite deceptive. And the hallowed status of personal branding in the virtual world doesn’t seem to be having a positive impact on people generally as human beings, musicians or otherwise.
Yujin: The thing I love the most about the internet’s effect on the industry is that it has really reduced the barriers for people wanting to get into making and releasing music. I guess this can be a double-edged sword, though, as there’s so much conflicting information out there that it can be hard to know what advice to follow.
If you could choose one thing for fans to take away from your music, what would it be?
Laura: Emotion, always. It doesn’t matter what emotion, but good music always has a more immediate, visceral impact than words on a page. The best music is a hotline to the heart. It captures emotions when words escape you.
Yujin: I want the listener to take away a personal sense of connection with the song. I love how music can be interpreted differently depending on the listener and how it can take them back to experiences in their own lives. All my favourite songs have this.
What is your favourite song to play live?
Laura: The pandemic has meant that we haven’t been able to play any of our songs live yet, but we are currently fine-tuning Rumara’s live set-up. It will be very emotional to finally bring these songs to life on stage after nearly two years in the making, but the stage is where I feel at home – so I can’t wait.
Yujin: I personally can’t wait to start using this live rig that I’ve built up over the past year to bring these songs to the stage. I know Laura is going to perform the hell out of all of these songs as well!
Have you started working on your next release?
Laura: We have a few more releases up our sleeve in the near future, and in the meantime, we’ve already started working on our second EP.
Yujin: All I can say for now is that the next batch of songs are tapping into something that feels much darker.
FV Music Blog March 2021
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