Shamir Explains Why He Surprise-Released Hope After Getting Dropped By XL

Shamir recorded an album over the weekend and unceremoniously released it early this morning. Hope is a 10-track collection of indie rock songs that Shamir put together to remind himself why he loves music. After releasing the inventive pop album Ratchet back in 2015, Shamir was a superstar on the rise, but he didn’t want to keep making the same type of music. He was eventually dropped by XL.

In a new interview with Out, Shamir discusses the circumstances that made him want to release this LP with little fanfare. Apparently he had been sitting on a fully finished release for a while but “some things came up,” and it never saw the light of day. So with that LP on ice for the moment, Shamir recorded Hope in his bedroom over the weekend, and while most of the songs are new, the intense track “Bleed It Out” has existed in some form for a long time. Shamir also talks freely about the industry pressures he faced after Ratchet was released to acclaim.

Is this album a message to the music industry?

This album is kind of, I don’t want to say a “fuck you” to the industry, but also kind of. I really, really, really tried to work with the music machine and industry machine, but I think it was in the cards for me not to. I think everyone was shocked—only my close friends knew—when they saw I was dropped from XL. This record is why, because this wouldn’t have come out if I was still signed, right now, and I’d probably be super fucking miserable.

I wanted to make something real, and I knew that if I did something real, it would be in its own lane and completely different. Everyone around me thought the next step was for me to be more accessible, and I’m not trying to be inaccessible, but I also want to bring something real into the world. There’s so much fake in pop music and it really took a toll on me. I still think of myself as a pop artist, but I don’t see why I can’t be a lo-fi pop artist.

Now that you’re defining yourself outside of the music industry, who is Shamir, the artist?

I think me as an artist is self-sufficient. I’m best when I’m alone and can literally have all hands. Relying on everyone was really hard for me. It was hard for me to not even be able to touch a single hair on production for Ratchet. Being young and 19, I just felt blessed to be able to write my own album myself. But I didn’t spend my whole childhood teaching myself literally every instrument to not be able to play on my record or produce myself. Most of the people I look up to produce their own records, like Mac DeMarco. I fucking love Mac DeMarco—he’s literally my shower curtain, right now. I see him every day.

Shamir also addressed the fact that Hope is essentially a guitar rock album:

I made Ratchet when I was really young, like 18-19, and it was hard for me as a person to raise my voice and really stand up for what I believe in as far as music—having a bunch of people tell me my ideas about music aren’t as valid. “It should be like this,” or, “No one’s going to like it if it’s like that.” It kind of wore on me. I still have a huge part of Ratchet—I wrote every song and only worked with my producer and still manager, Nick Sylvester.

I love him to death and I love that record to death, but that record, at least production-wise—I’ve made it clear from the beginning that dance music is something completely new to me and something I was experimenting with. I never thought anyone would like Ratchet as much as they did, so I kind of felt stuck. A lot of the producers I was working with felt stuck to making Ratchet 2 or Ratchet Deluxe, which is not what I wanted. I’ve always loved lo-fi music; Vivian Girls is my favorite band ever and I have them tattooed on me. It’s very obvious to read between the lines, but I definitely feel like this new album is my baby.

Read the interview in full here.

Tags: Shamir