With a Russian actress for a mother and an English documentary film maker for a father, it would be easy to assume that Manchester-born Aleksandra Lilah Yakunina-Denton – better known by her stage name, Shura – was destined to enter showbiz.
Her first single, Touch, was released in 2014 to rave reviews, and since then she has put out a string of strong tracks that have received plenty of airplay. July will see the release of her first LP, Nothing’s Real, and Shura will be previewing tracks from this at Live at Leeds.
However, speaking to her ahead of this date, she admits that she never expected to be able to turn her passion into a career. “I always knew that I was going to make music as a hobby, but I never thought I’d do it as a career. It wasn’t really until Touch had a lot of attention I hadn’t really ever had before. That’s when I guess record labels started talking to me, which had never happened before, so it was as late as that, really. I hadn’t given up, but I just thought I’d do it as a hobby.”
Shura has earned a reputation for being innovative and original with her compositions, so much so that even Mumford and Sons have covered her material, but she confesses that she is not an artist that writes constantly. “I’m definitely not prolific, it comes in waves, really. It just depends what you’re going through; if I’m really happy I find it quite difficult to write. Sometimes, you can be scratching your head for months and saying ‘why is everything I’m saying s***?’, she laughs.
Nothing’s Real will be released on July 8 on Polydor. Shura says that the recording process for her first album was a smooth one, largely thanks to being left to her own devices. “I really enjoyed 90 per cent of it, I was really fortunate in that Polydor were true to their word. Every label that you speak to says they will let you do what you want, but you always think that within a month after the honeymoon period they are going to start making you wear dresses and write with this person, and that didn’t happen, they kind of just let me get on with it.
Shura plays at O2 Academy Leeds at 7.30pm on April 30. For more details visit http://liveatleeds.com/