From the brilliance of Björk to being broke and meeting Sudan Archives, Elle Shimada runs down her musical firsts.

Elle Shimada is a Japanese multi-instrumentalist, DJ and producer captivating with her unique brand of cinematic electronica. Creating other-worldly atmospheres as fitting for the club as bedroom raves, the dance floor activist is rapidly rising to the scene’s fore. Last week, she dropped a spellbinding new single called “ABOUT BLANK____”, which features the equally talented artist Rara Zulu.


Born in Tokyo, before moving to Australia aged 15, Elle’s become well accustomed to the music industry’s hustle and bustle. Growing up, her parents worked on the festival circuit, and from a young age, she found herself sneaking into events with the intention of letting loose and raving all night. Combined with dizzying jazz elements, her discography sonically distinguishes the nuances of underground music birthing from Melbourne, still treasuring those adolescent adventures that smuggled her into festivals all those year’s ago. 


“ABOUT BLANK____” is a genre-blending masterpiece which lyrically revolves around relatable and challenging subject matters. Elle has a unique ability to capture human experience while uplifting through dance-focused productions that actively cover everything from skittish footwork to unbearably groovy house.  


As 2023 becomes an increasingly profitable year for the artist, who’s set to support Flying Lotus, Alfa Mist and many others, we got acquainted with Elle through her musical firsts. From the brilliance of Björk to being broke and meeting Sudan Archives.  

First song you ever made? 
I was a little kid and it was on my mother’s piano, I remember this exhilarating joy overflowing in my body. I called it “遊びの歌” – “A playful song” in Japanese but it was just a C Major scale up and down.
I still chase that feeling when I compose.
For the first time in a long time, writing “ABOUT BLANK ____” gave me a similar feeling. I used to skip classes and hide in the music room in high school, which is where I became obsessed with the production side of music.
First song you released officially? 

“ACTIVATE”. It’s still my favourite! I was listening to a lot of Flying Lotus at the time, so its got that weird juke-inspired beat with beautiful vocals, from my good friends Abbey Howlett and Cazeaux O.S.L.O

First CD or record you owned? 
I think it’s Björk’s ‘Utopia’. Or maybe Mariah Carey’s Christmas album? Such a mix-up of vibes.
First time you realised you wanted to be an artist? 
When I realised that I was rubbish at everything else. Maybe in high school?
First gig you went to? 
I wouldn’t be surprised if I was conceived at music festivals, my parents work on the festival circuit, so I grew up around a lot of good music. The first gig I went to on my own was at a festival in Australia when I migrated there aged 15.
I hitchhiked there and back for a five-hour drive. They kicked me out because I was underage and didn’t have a ticket but I snuck back in and danced all night.
First time you faced an obstacle in your career? 
I’m still figuring out this music stuff, is this my career? I’m broke!
I remember COVID was difficult, all my gigs and tours were cancelled. I wrote my debut album ‘HOME ≠ LOCATION’ in the lockdown though, so I’m grateful for the time and space it gave me.
First instrument you owned? 
A cassette tape. I was obsessed and recorded everything around me to make music or soundtrack my life.
I used to record a mixtape from a Japanese show called Music Station, it didn’t have a fade function so I’d wear soft socks and run away from the TV when the song’s finished, to mimic the fade.
First time you felt like giving up? 
Everytime I look at my bank account. I’m not even lying.
First time you felt starstruck? 
When I had an impromptu lunch with Sudan Archives. I bumped into her at Stone Throw Record studio.
She’s an icon!
First time you ticked off a bucket list goal?
Directing my first music video. I’ve always wanted to be a film director one day. My friends are all so generous and creative, so they made me feel like I was a film director!
Life’s been very kind to me recently. I’m supporting some of my musical heroes for a tour in June, including Flying Lotus, Liv.e, Obongjayar and Alfa Mist. That’s too many bucket lists ticked in one go! I’m very grateful.

Stream "ABOUT BLANK____" below: