Shuman Walks the Line between Synthwave & Chillwave in his new EP “Shadows Hold the Cure”

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What role does cultural education play in the creative life of an individual? We often find that people who have lived in many places, for significant periods of time, tend to develop a language for their art that is unique to their personality. Not that it is not possible without crossing borders, it just speeds up the process. Perhaps, it is that intense exposure to such diverse identities that causes you to resolve a sound of your own.

One such person who has seen a lot of the world in a very short time is Anshuman or ‘Shuman’, a 25 year old singer/producer/guitarist who grew up in 6 countries. Having graduated in 2018 from the Australian Institute of Music in Sydney, Shuman moved home to India in order to start independent record label, ’10th Son Records’. Producing hip-hop for artists such as Tenzing and The Underdocs resulted in Shuman developing a keen ear for authentic lyrics and 808s. With his EP, ‘Shadows Hold The Cure’, Shuman takes to the foreground and invites the listener to explore his personal sonic journal.

Listening through the EP, it is hard to box it in one genre but it is safe to say that it toes the line between Chill Wave and Synth Wave. Shuman’s vocals have a quality reminiscent of Indie singers from the 90s which is a quality that is fast being lost in today’s world of auto processing. His lyrics and vocals together might transport you to the retro feeling of the 90s (yes 90s is far back enough to be referred to as retro). The production is layered with beautiful atmospheres that complement the vocals but don’t take focus from it.

We discussed his EP and music with him and here’s what he had to say:

You grew up in 6 countries. That’s intriguing. How much and what of your growing up years influence your creative style?

I enjoyed a really positive and varied life abroad for 15 years. It impacted me deeply personally and musically. As a child when I first moved to Brazil, there were very few shows in the English language on TV. As a result, ‘Miami Ink’ somehow became a staple at my house and heavily informed my sense of style 🙂

Being 16 in Thailand’s happening live scene and playing with older bands got me hooked on Blues music. Guitar phrasing from the 70s and 80s started to sound just right to my ear. I also can’t forget watching Chet Faker and Tame Impala release music whilst I was living in Australia. Moody beats and gorgeous synth melodies inked their places in my heart as they soundtracked my walks through CBD Sydney.

Tell us about ’Shadows Hold The Cure’. Where did the idea start and how did it take shape? What do you think about the EP you have ended up with?

The idea started with a need for an individual sound. I can’t emphasise the word ‘need’, enough haha. I have always been attracted to unique artists, so it made sense for me to showcase what I bring to the table on the project. I searched my mind for the strongest memories that live with me and wrote songs about those.

An acoustic guitar, a looper and 2 weeks were what it took to write the EP. A month after that, I was done with all the production on logic pro. The speed of completion gave me belief that the work I was doing was honest. I personally think ‘Shadows’ sounds beautiful 🙂 Its release acts as a timestamp for me. I was this person, I went through that and I am this person now.

Tell us about your set up. We’ve got your soothing vocals and soulful lyrics. The production has a clear Chillwave vibe with nuances of Synthwave. How does your set up lend to these?

Making music with a Chillwave vibe was almost an accident. Growing up I liked all the individual elements that make up that genre. So, as an adult when I heard ‘Neon Indian’ and ‘Toro Y Moi’, I took comfort that someone else was making great sounding, retro music. I also have a MIDI keyboard and I like Kovinsky. That should explain the Synthwave influence haha.

In my home studio, I’m running a Duesenburg 59er and a Gretsch White Falcon HOT through my VOX AC30. An ElectroVoice RE20 (inspired by Anthony Kiedes) is in charge of recording my voice. The fantastic REAKTOR plugin is on synth duty and BATTERY is powering the beats. The custom 808 that’s on all the tracks is made by me.

What is the future for Shuman?

A new single ‘On My Mind’ X Mr. Todu will drop on March 26th 2021. More Chillwave vibes with some Rock carefully placed in there.

I will then switch up languages on April 16th 2021 as I release some Hip-Hop in Hindi. A large project in the Rap scene with multiple collaborators will follow that soon after.

What do you think about the Indian music scene? We see the boundaries between the age old genre segregation blurring more everyday. What do you think about it? Who are the artists you look forward to?

I think the Indian Indie music scene is absolutely fantastic. Where I currently reside in Pune, there’s a plethora of artists making great electronic music with vocals. OM and Aseem are two of the few that I enjoy, but anyone can have a look at our scene in greater depth through my playlist, ‘Pune Vibes’ on Spotify haha 😀

In my hometown of Delhi there is an insane new wave of Rap music. With multiple musicians releasing albums on the same day, in a single genre of Indie music, it’s only a matter of time before everyone takes notice. D₹V captures the essence of my city in his songs and for that, he gets a lot of streams a month from my house. Also, Lit happu is a genre blending wizard. I’m all for individuality.