'The Ev Wednesday Residency' / Elle Shimada Band

'The Ev Wednesday Residency' / Elle Shimada Band

The Elle Shimada Band’s upcoming residency at the Evelyn Hotel in Fitzroy (affectionately and almost exclusively referred to as ‘The Ev’) is a journey in 4 installments. The focus: navigating the labyrinth that is identity formation, constructive growth and renewal- along with a healthy dose of kicking back, dropping it all and having a good boogie. The residency integrates music (soul, jazz, house, hiphop, dance) with spoken word, visual art and interactive media.

Although experienced musicians in their own right, as a band the Elle Shimada Band are relatively new to the scene. The themes for the residency came from a desire to consolidate and define themselves as a unified group, placing different aspects of their personal experiences as musicians (and people) under the spotlight each week.

We had a quick Q&A with violinist, producer and multi-instrumentalist Elle Shimada: curator of the residency and self-described “professional air wiggler” (ie. musician).

What was your introduction to music?

ES: When I was little I wanted to play double bass. My mum gave me a violin and told me it would grow up with me. It was a lie, but ended up paying off. I moved to Australia when I was fifteen and didn’t speak a word of English, so I picked up the violin again and sort of used it as a form of communication with people. I got really obsessed with it again!

Who inspires you?

ES: There are a lot of people who inspire me (Bjork, Flying Lotus, Madvillain, Omou Sangare to name a few), but I’m especially inspired by my friends. My band mates each have their own personal projects going (Abbey Howlett, Close Counters, ZFEX, Matthew Hayes, Rara Zulu and Lucky Pereira). I live in a house with two studios run by members of Hiatus Kaiyote and Nick Herrera Production, and people are always making something. In my previous house I met the singer in my band, Abby, and we were like- oh, we can paint our nails together but we can also make electronic music together. It was fairly new to both of us to meet another female artist with similar interests.

Was it difficult to transition from being a solo musician to playing with a larger band?

ES: In a way. At first I was like- this is my music, and I want you to play it how it is. And then, through building trust and through them [the band] being so respectful of my vision and our influences on each other, it developed from there. It’s really a beautiful and collaborative thing now, like I gave them an outline and they coloured it in, and now it’s alive.

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Week 1:  Colours of Expression (6th February)

Featured artists: MINYERRA, Digital Afrika, Soju Gang, Elle Shimada Band, Karen Bravo (dance / visual art), Rara Zulu (spoken word)

Shimada describes the collective as “diasporas” hailing from different backgrounds and origins, each bringing a distinct musical flavour. Coming from this standpoint, the first week of the residency centres around cultural heritage and the way it shapes personal, collective and musical identity- particularly in Melbourne’s thriving creative arts scene.

“It’s really exciting because we’re still in a place where we are defining our identity as people and as a country, and it’s possible for young creatives like us to change the mindsets of people. Back home in Japan it’s much more difficult to make a social impact, the traditions are more deeply entrenched. It’s really liberating as an artist, I feel like our voices are being heard.”

-          Elle Shimada

Week 2: WOMB:rebirth (13th February)

Featured artists: Abby Howlett, Fosse (Mandarin Dreams), Elle Shimada Band, Plaster Clothing (fashion/runway), Pink Folds (fashion/runway)

WOMB:rebirth is about the idea of ‘the feminine’ in all its diverse forms, both as an essential life-force and a conceptual category separate from traditional ideas of biological sex. This week’s event is about re-evaluating, reconstructing and celebrating inclusive ideas of womanhood and femininity (not just limited to women!), as well as embracing the comfort and security of the womb-space.

Week 3: DREAMSTATE (20th February)

Featured artists: Hana, Matthew Hayes (Ambient Live Set), Elle Shimada, Orkestra Tiaryn (full band)

DREAMSTATE is a good night’s sleep after a hectic day. After two weeks of identity-focused exploration, the third instalment is about stepping back/down, and giving our brains and bodies some time to process the overwhelming mass of information that characterises modern life. Comfy seating, indulgent self-care activities and chill-out music convert The Evelyn into a space for relaxation and rejuvenation.

Week 4: Active Meditation (27th February)

Featured artists: Zeitgeist Freedom Energy Exchange, Moses Carr, Elle Shimada, Close Counters, Lucky Pereira (DJ)

After some thorough rest and relaxation, the party kicks back into gear. This is an homage to dance as a form of active, bodily thinking and its potential to inspire and unite. As the final instalment, it is also a culmination of the entire journey: from the story of personal origins to collective integration, and finally, celebration.

Get down to the Ev every Wednesday of this month!

Images: James Juranke Photography

Words: Ronlee Korren

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