Elle Shimada, the Tokyo-born, Melbourne-based violinist, producer, curator, DJ, and multi-instrumentalist, is returning to the soundscape with a genre-defying single “ABOUT BLANK ____” featuring the diverse vocal stylings of Rara Zulu. Released earlier this month, the single showcases Shimada’s audacious exploration of sound and emotion, solidifying her as one of the most thrilling figures in today’s electronic scene.
Known for her breathtaking fusion of musical elements, Shimada takes the listener on a sonic adventure. “ABOUT BLANK ____” melds elements of Drum n Bass with textured soundscapes and emotive cinematic compositions, thereby, highlighting Shimada’s uncanny knack for crafting some of the most exhilarating, genre-bending music around. But the creativity does not stop there. With Rara Zulu lending her vocal prowess to the piece, the lyrics offer an unfiltered, moving dive into the lives of strong, independent women grappling with their vulnerabilities and emotions.
Speaking on her new single, Elle Shimada expresses her desire for the song to provide listeners with a sense of comfort, a musical refuge where one can unabashedly embrace their emotional journey. “Writing ‘ABOUT BLANK ______’ was a therapeutic experience for me. The song forced me to listen to the thoughts I’ve buried deep inside my heart, something that was due for me to lean into, so I can move forward with lightness and evolve,” she says. Through collaborations with Rara Zulu and Bella Waru, Shimada seeks to offer a musical composition that serves as a warm embrace, a safe space for listeners to unravel their emotional complexities in a way that’s more of an extended, soft exhale than a tragic collapse.
Last year, Shimada released her critically acclaimed debut album HOME ≠ LOCATION via The Jazz Diaries — a vibrant journey through spiritual jazz and Drum n Bass in pursuit of home beyond the geographical. The album tour spanned Australia, Europe, America, Indonesia, and the UK, receiving global recognition for its innovative approach. Now, with “ABOUT BLANK ____,” she continues to underscore her commitment to pushing the boundaries of genre and emotion, evolving with her music and inviting her listeners to do the same.
Hey Elle! For those unfamiliar, I’d love to know more about your musical journey and the moment that you realized music was a career path you wanted to venture into.
Hi everyone! My name is Elle, a violinist, producer, vocalist, and DJ.
Aside from music, I’ve recently finished my first self-directed short film to go with my latest single “ABOUT BLANK ___” which felt epic! The video definitely got this DIY feel to it, but I’m so proud of creating something that was completely out of my comfort zone! I was also blessed with a great crew of people who’ve trusted in the vision like feature vocalist Rara Zulu, Bella Waru, and my father who shot it all on an iPhone!
Music has been my main thing ever since I migrated from Tokyo to Australia, I didn’t speak much English then. My violin gave me a voice and a way to communicate with the world. For me, it’s still more of a communication tool than a career. I’m still broke so the career part is a work in progress, but I’m excited to grow and learn!
Your background spans Tokyo’s underground scene to music capitals like London, Los Angeles, and even Melbourne—how do these varied cultural and musical influences shape who you are?
I’m Tokyo-born and Melbourne based. So my sound is definitely shaped by the two cities. Travels and tours to other cultural cities have been ear-opening and inspiring, but I really try and make music that captures the essence of what I felt in the places I travel to, more than to take on a sound from one genre from a specific place.
And also, despite the different places you’ve traveled to being far away from one another, is there a common ground or something that uniquely ties them together?
I’m me always. Wherever I go. I can’t hide it.
You’ve mentioned that writing “About Blank ____” was a therapeutic experience for you. Can you share a little more about how the process of creating this track helped you to navigate your own emotions?
I play a lot of music through jamming, gigging, and sessioning. But for me, a song only feels finished and has its own life to it after I sit with it for a long time. Music is crazy, cuz I may make a song about something really personal and unresolved in my head, and it gets heard by thousands of people.
From an idea in my mind, forming into a production, writing lyrics, playing violin and synths, to arranging, then recording vocals to collaborating with Rara Zulu, each step felt like I had to be more and more clear with what I wanted to say with the song. Naturally thinking about it over and over helps me understand my ideas deeper, then releasing the song feels like I’m also releasing tension. I feel lucky to have an artistic practice that also helps me grow with it.
One of the things that I also picked up on is that whether it be any of your older work or even some of the newer material, nothing completely sounds the same. What’s the process like when you’re experimenting with such a broad range of sounds?
I’m often inspired by non-musical things, like dreams, stories, smell, memory, or vision. When I was younger, I tried to explain them in words to people around me, but now I understand that I’m better at music than words.
Music is just there for me to articulate whatever concept that’s only in my mind to something the world can hear, so it ends up sounding all different. I’m never like “Oh I wanna make a juke track with jazz and drum & bass reference.”
Speaking on older projects, HOME ≠ LOCATION turns one later this summer. Looking back on the release, what’s been the most important takeaway from that album now that it’s sat and marinated with your listeners for a bit?
My debut album explored the concept of ‘Home’ beyond the geographical. Something we can all carry with us, wherever we are.
A few times after a gig a fan I’ve never met before would come up to me and tell me that the album has helped them feel more at home in their bodies, or that it has helped them find a sense of belonging. That’s so fucking epic and crazy! And all those intimate and real interactions make me wanna keep going!
Another thing I learned, is that nothing would ever be perfect but I just have to release songs anyways. It’s really not that much of a big deal you know… haha.
Like many other artists, fashion is another medium that you use as a vehicle of self-expression. Can you talk a bit about your current style and how it empowers you?
Putting on beautiful garments can feel so empowering. I choose what I wear based on what I want to embody for the day. If I don’t feel sexy, I’d wear a tight red dress so it would make me feel more elegant and sensual. If I’m feeling lazy, a sneaker and jeans would inspire me to get out and move.
For the “ABOUT BLANK _____” music video, we’ve collaborated with incredible Wackie Ju and Qinxuan Wu.
What would you say to other artists looking to defy genre boundaries and create their own unique sound, as you have done so successfully?
Aw thank you! I think what I would say to other artists is the same for me, be unapologetically you. That may mean that fewer people like us for now, but why would we wanna fake ourselves to please people who won’t like us authentically?
Also, listen to lots of music from different time and space, and make sure to put yourselves in inspiring situations small and big.