After selling out nine shows across Japan, Elle Shimada has seamlessly combined her talents as violinist, producer, curator, and DJ to quickly become one of Melbourne’s most innovative artists.
Elle Shimada took a leap of faith last year to collaborate. Having been a solo artist for many years, Shimada’s band has not only added fresh energy to her genre-bending music, they’ve also been instrumental in pushing the sound-guru to take more risks than what was possible on her own.
“We’ve only been playing as a band for about a year,” Shimada says. “I’ve always played solo with my production in the background. But last year I finally had the courage to form a band and share my music with other musicians. In forming a band, it was important to find people that I resonated with musically but who I can also share my culture with and have them support me in cultivating my cultural identity through music.
“I was originally just going to Japan for a holiday and to see my parents – but my band said, ‘Let’s go and play music – we want to play music with you in Japan.’ We sold out all nine shows within a few months. We were very lucky to get support from all these venues.”
Off the back of a sold-out Japanese tour, Shimada returns to Melbourne brimming with new ideas and influences. When asked how she became such an expert in sound production and creating unique music, Shimada’s voice glows with excitement.
“As a little kid, I was always fascinated with sound. Not only with musical instruments – my father bought me a Zoom recorder when I was eight and I’ve always recorded everything; noises from my house, nature, friends talking. That was my first instrument before the violin. That slowly led me into music production on computers, electronic music production.
“When I moved to Australia at the age of 15, I didn’t speak English, so my love and relationship with music deepened. I took the violin seriously from that age because it was a means to communicate to my environment without language. Violin helped me communicate with the world and settle into Australia.”
When Shimada returned to Japan, she encountered a surprising ancestral history that she had always suspected but never confirmed. It was this discovery that completely re-altered and re-shaped her forthcoming EP.
“After the tour, I stayed in Japan for a couple of months longer than the band. I got to discover my ancestral roots in this Indigenous people of Japan; Ainu. I got to find that out as a fact after it being discussed in my family for many years. I’ve started learning their language, because I have their genes but I don’t have a living breathing experience of my ancestors.
“I went to libraries, searched online, I sampled a lot of their old-time storytelling. Through making this EP I got to experience different roots I have in Tokyo, in Melbourne, and in Ainu people. The EP forced me to go on this exciting journey.
“I thought I was almost done with the EP, but then in Japan I collaborated with a lot of Japanese artists, so that deepened my connection with Japan and led me to wanting the EP to be more about discovering two homes that I have in Melbourne and Japan.”
Shimada will be one of many eclectic artists performing at Open Spaces on the grounds of The Abbotsford Convent. The all-ages event will see punters enjoy a relaxed weekend sprawled on the grass in the Convent’s beautiful gardens surrounded by its stunning heritage architecture.
The amazing space will only be conducive to the atmospheric, cinematic, and other-worldly sound that Shimada produces every time she enters a performance space.
Open Spaces takes place at the Abbotsford Convent from Saturday November 9 – Sunday November 10. For more information visit abbotsfordconvent.com.au