Fusing 60’s soul with contemporary jazz, E.B.R.U is not your average pop starlet. Having already experienced success overseas — her debut single “Set Me Free” topped the charts in Turkey and Cyprus — the London-based singer is gearing to make big waves in the UK and beyond.
A powerhouse vocalist, E.B.R.U firmly made a name for herself on the British live circuit, prompting the BBC to describe her vocals as “perfection.” With new single “MAD” released this summer, I caught up with the feisty songstress to discuss all things music, standing out from her competition and how today’s artist’s could learn a thing or two from musicians of the past.
EARMILK: For those who are not familiar with you, who is E.B.R.U?
E.B.R.U: E.B.R.U is a singer/songwriter and a performer who represents confidence and fun, with a non-apologetic attitude.
EM: And how would you describe your musical sound?
E.B.R.U: My sound is very reminiscent to Motown, [but] with a modern twist. It’s a live sound that’s very energetic, bold and also emotive. With very honest songs.
EM: Your songs are rather reminiscent of the sounds of the 60’s. Is that era of music very influential to you?
E.B.R.U: Very much so. I love Motown. I love Diana Ross, Etta James, Shirley Bassey etc. But then again I also grew up listening to the likes of Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Destiny’s Child and so on. I just love music and different people from different eras inspire me for different reasons.
EM: But do you feel contemporary music lacks certain elements and qualities which previous decades thrived in?
E.B.R.U: Most definitely. I think contemporary music misses the rawness that artist's from previous decades had. Back then people like Michael Jackson and The Supremes would have an hour to vocal and it was more or less one-take recordings filled with emotion and performance. You know, the beauty of saxophones and trumpets – real live sounds. But now-a-days there’s so much focus on things like auto-tune. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying contemporary music is bad, I love it and do listen to it myself, but there’s definitely a big difference between music back then and music now.
EM: At the moment there are quite a few upcoming female singers in the UK, from Rita Ora and Cleo Sol, to Etta Bond and Yasmin. How do you differ from your peers?
E.B.R.U: I’m not afraid to talk about my weaknesses and mistakes. I make myself vulnerable in order to share my experiences with others. I’m very emotive in my vocals. When you hear my songs, you won't just hear the emotion in the lyrics, but you’ll feel it too. I try and make sure that people are able to feel what I need them to, through the way I sing.
EM: Many people will consider you a ‘new artist’, but you’ve actually had a great deal of success in your native Turkey and Cyprus. Having already experienced success, do you feel more at ease launching your career in the UK and beyond?
E.B.R.U: To be honest, I have the same level of excitement over here as I did in Turkey and Cyprus because it’s new territory and the UK’s where I’ve lived all my life. I reckon you’ll always be on your toes no matter what country it is, I'm just excited to share what I've been cooking in the studio with the world.
EM: On that note, you've got a new single “MAD” – which is outJuly 9 – Tell us a bit about the song…
E.B.R.U: “MAD” is about a confident woman who has put up with a lot of crap from her man and has given him leeway and chance after chance. And although she’s already said to him she’ll leave him, he doesn't believe her because she’s said it so many times before, (but) this time she’s dead serious. That's the overall story behind the song in a nutshell.
EM: And the remix (and official video) for “MAD” features Grime MC Durrty Goodz. How did that collaboration come about?
E.B.R.U: Marshall (of Hitroom Recordings) and Goodz have known each other for a long time, so my label (Hitroom) hooked it up. We got in the studio and it was great to see his writing and recording process. He gets things right the first time round, has so much personality and knows how to deliver very well. He’s so talented and I couldn't have asked for anyone better to feature on the single.
EM: Now going back to the beginning, how did you first get into singing?
E.B.R.U: My mum says I've been singing since I could mumble words as a baby. I’ve always been known for holding a hairbrush or a deodorant can as a microphone and singing away in the bathroom and basically to any guest that would come to my house. My parents would have to tell me to be quiet because I simply wouldn't shut up. Singing was pretty much my way of talking haha!
EM: And when did you know this was an actual career path for you?
E.B.R.U: When I was thirteen I entered a school competition called “Stars In Their Eyes” and the response I got from everyone was so overwhelming. From then onwards I'd perform at different talent shows all by myself and a lot of people wanted to work with me but I was waiting for that special someone. I knew in my heart that it had to be the right team. Then I met Marshall at a youth show the day I turned seventeen and since then it's been a wrap!
EM: I went to one of your live shows recently and it was very energetic – you really do give it your all. How important are live shows to you?
E.B.R.U: I strongly believe that if your songs only sound good in the studio, then you’re not working hard enough. For me live performances are the most important thing, because they’re the most intimate. On the stage is where you get to fully engage with your fans and make them feel like they’re performing with you. Live performances are experiences that people will always keep as a memory, and I determine what memory I leave them. So live performances are very important to me.
EM: Last year you supported Bruno Mars on tour, what was that like?
E.B.R.U: It was so much fun. A lot of people came down and I did an acoustic set and got a very good response. It was just such an amazing experience.
EM: And can we expect to hear an EP, mixtape or LP soon?
E.B.R.U: Most definitely! I've been doing a lot of writing for my new mixtape that I plan to release real soon. I can't give away too much info right now, but watch this space!