[have a listen while you scroll the article below]
I was lucky to sit down with Mikey, Jenny and Amine from I M U R in their East Van studio and we chatted about their process, the future and everything in-between.
Who Is I M U R?
Mikey: I M U R is Jenny Lee on vocals & keys, Mikey J. Blige on live beat composition and guitar, and Amine Bouzaher on bass and violin on stage. We’re really glad to have Amine on board recently. We just found out that he is able to stay in Canada, so we’ve brought him on officially as a band member.
What brought you together?
Mikey: It was when I was producing a hip-hop duo for a few years ago called The People North West. Tee Krispil has become a member of them since actually. Anyway, Jenny was friends with some of the rappers friends and a rapper I was working with brought her on for a hook on a track. That’s where we met.
Jenny: I was doing singer/songwriter solo stuff, mostly soul vocals and guitar. But I always wanted a fuller sound for an album. And I was listening to a lot of Mikey’s solo productions and stuff and I loved the chill electronic vibe. It had a little bit of that boom-bap thing and it was so sweet. When we started talking about potentially working together he’d send me a beat and I was so inspired that it would take me 5 minutes to write over it. I’d record it into Garage Band and send it back. And he’d be all, “Yup! That’s the song!” <laughs>. That’s actually how we wrote “Bad Neighbourhood” and “Wilkins” off Slow Dive. So that’s when we got together and learned how to improvise our songs live and that’s how they came into what they are now.
I think booking Shambhala as our first show was good reinforcement for what “I think this is what we’re supposed to be doing.”
By the way, how was that set?
Mikey: That was the most nervous I’d ever been for a show. But I also was so happy that I’d crouch down under my midi controller and just wipe tears away. <laughs>
Do you have defined rolls in your writing and recording, or do you overlap ?
Jenny: We’ve done both. On Slow Dive it was a pretty good mix, as far as a lot of the guitar and piano parts, and then Mikey produced around it. But with our new project “Little Death” he’s been on top of the beats before and after work. He’s been cranking out new beats and sending them over to me and that’s when I’ll begin to write over it.
Mikey: There’s a couple of tracks too that we’ve worked on together at the beginning. There are ones that you’ve (Jenny) started with a chord progression or something. It’s been back and forth, but I’m doing all the production, engineering and recording.
There have been a lot of processes lately. We’ve tried to evolve our original ideas as much as possible. We’ve brought in Nate Drobner (Astrological) to help out with post-production. On some of the songs that we were particularly stuck with we’d ended up taking them 360° and leaving almost everything behind. We’d then go forward with ideas that he’d bring in and go from there. So the next one I want to release is one we co-produced with Astrological.
How did the Groundwerk Remix competition come about, and what surprised you the most about what the remixers did with your original stems?
Mikey: Last year we released our debut EP Slow Dive, and we wanted to do a remix contest but I was thinking, “We don’t have the following yet and we don’t have the people to put it out to.” So here we are a year later. We’ve grown our audience and network and started working with Groundwerk more often. And because we gained so much from the community over the year, we wanted to give back so it was our way to do that.
Jenny: We were pumped because there were 22 entries, which in Vancouver, is a lot. It was really interesting to hear all the different versions. It was definitely not just confined to techno and house; there was a lot of really groovy shit in there. Like, it’s always interesting to see how people want to reform vocals. So it was unique to hear it all chopped and pitched up and things. It was great all around!
[listen to the remix EP here; article continues below link]
You have a lot of stuff going on, what should we expect in the near future?
Jenny: We’re also planning our album release party for March 18th at Celebrities in Vancouver. The soft release date of it will be March 24th.
All: Sofffffft Releeeease <laughs>
Mikey: A single, an album, an album release party, a music video, a new record, a move to Montreal, and festival season… we’re just hanging out, not doing much, <laughs> oh, and the newsletter! <laughs>
One calendar year from now, what do you see yourself doing?
Jenny: Our plan is to move to Montreal and just grind while we’re over there. Build our east coast fan-base and get on to some festival bookings. We did 9 this year through self-booking, so we’re hoping to have a booking agent by then and a bigger following to ride that wave for the summer. We’ll be back by mid-June from Montreal.
Amine: If we lock it down and live together and work together and rehearse it becomes something that's more focused around the music even more. And we’ve even seen recently by how we’ve been working, it becomes more about growing together. We’ll be able to hone in on things.
Mikey: While we’re in Montreal we hope to have enough content to put out another full-length. Maybe 10 to 12 tracks that would make me happy. So if we’re over there, you know, not working day jobs, I wouldn’t be surprised if we could get even 20 tracks out considering the level that we’re at with full time day jobs. We’re really excited for that.
Jenny: It was the dream that turned into a goal, which is now the plan.
Final words from IMUR?
Jenny: We’re super grateful for Groundwerk and the community. It’s honestly given us a lot of opportunities to get some excellent feedback on what we’re putting out. The networking, I mean, we’ve already collaborated with at least 2 other artists from Groundwerk. And I’m not just talking about working with, I mean built really strong friendships that we’ll have forever. And the support that Groundwerk has been providing us has been super valuable.
Mikey: It’s huge what they’re doing and we’re psyched to be a part of it. I was talking to this music licenser at Rifflandia and he was talking about the lack of scene and the competition out in Toronto between people and the scenes out there. And I was like, ”Damn, we have the exact opposite thing going on right now. A wicked scene with people lifting everyone up.”