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Introducing I M U R: Vancouver’s duo who are effortlessly breaking genre constraints

Vancouver, BC – 2016 has been a successful year for Vancouver filled with numerous notable projects that have drawn a newly invigorated spotlight to the West Coast. With this growth and development of the scene, has emerged a select few who have lead the growing community of independent artists by producing quality projects and curating quality live performances as well. At the front of the pack are I M U R (I Am You Are) a hip-hop, soul, and electronic inspired duo coming out of East Vancouver which formed in late 2015. The duo is comprised of singer-songwriter Jenny Lea and producer Mikey J Blige, and well known for Lea’s beautiful croons strewn over reminiscent beats from Blige.

With a self-released debut EP Slow Dive, the duo are familiar with paving their own path in the somewhat challenging current music scene of Vancouver (and they’re making great videos to show how it can be pulled off effortlessly). You might have been able to catch one of their many performances this summer 16′ at events like WSSF, 420 Vancouver, Chapel Sound Fest, Revival Fest, Astral Harvest Fest, COG, Hiatus Fest, the Alexander, Biltmore, Imperial, or Fox.  We recently had a chance to catch up with the duo to talk about their newest video release ‘FFL’ (fight fuck love), and everything they’ve been up to this year.

Introducing I M U R: Vancouver's duo who are effortlessly breaking genre constraints -

“We wanted to use a cinematic approach in the telling of a story about relationships in modern society. ” – I M U R

I M U R: Q&A

Interview conducted by Kira Hunston for HipHopCanada

HipHopCanada: You recently got back from playing a set at Rifflandia Music Festival in Victoria, how was that experience for you? 

I M U R: Rifflandia was a very cool experience for us! We had an 8:30pm set time and have never played in Vic before, so we really didn’t expect much of a turn-out. To our surprise, by the second song in, the entire venue was packed with an extremely supportive crowd. People were even singing along! Also, getting to see Tennyson and J5 live was incredibly inspiring. Mikey and Amine even got to beatbox while Juju from Beatnuts freestyled in the greenroom. Is this going to be our lives now?

HipHopCanada: In terms of live performances, you’ve had a fully packed year of shows. What kind of approach did you both want to take heading into 2016 and what were some of your goals?  

I M U R: Our goal for 2016 was to really hone in on our live set.  Break everything down and make it super jammable. After playing 9 festivals this summer, and A LOT of local shows, we think we’ve accomplished that. We’ve added Amine Bouzaher aka Simple Machines to the band as our bassist/violinist and it’s been a very natural and incredibly beautiful process. Our set is now filled with improv and extensions and a shit ton of smiles because we’re having the best fucking time. We’re not stopping there though, we are currently in the works of making our sets even more complex, adding more equipment, and ways to blow your mind. You don’t come to an I M U R show, you cum at an I M U R show.

HipHopCanada: You’ve become a really prominent force in the community leading this revolution of independent artists paving their own way. What do you feel are some of the challenges that independent artists face on the West Coast? 

I M U R: Damn… thank you! We think the biggest challenge we face as artists on the West Coast, is the cost of living. It’s very challenging to take the plunge into being a full time artist, without sacrificing vision and integrity, when rent and bills are sky-high. We’d also like to mention, the Vancouver cultural scene is a bit complicated. We find that our community is extremely supportive, and there’s a ton going on, but we’d be naive to think that describes Vancouver as a whole. The problem is, those communities and collectives only includes a small percentage of Vancouverites. It seems like most of Vancouver doesn’t care about what’s going on in Vancouver until it makes it’s way outside of Vancouver. It’s unfortunate, and we’re not sure how to change that, but we do know that there is no scene unless people create it. There’s some very hungry and driven communities right now doing their best to make it happen.

HipHopCanada: For audience members who are listening to your music for the first time, what’s something that you hope they take away from your music? 

I M U R: For first time listeners, you will notice that we fall into more genres than the typical artist. Our sounds are constantly evolving and pulling from a myriad of influence. Our music is authentic and unique, and we hope our audience feels a deep connection to our lyrics and rhythms.

Introducing I M U R: Vancouver's duo who are effortlessly breaking genre constraints -

HipHopCanada: Your newest music video for “FFL (NSFW)” features many eloquently poised derrieres, and an emphasis on beautiful body forms. What was the process for the creation of the video, and where did the inspiration come from?

I M U R: We wanted to use a cinematic approach in the telling of a story about relationships in modern society. This story, in particular, confronts the ideals behind instant gratification for the ‘tinder generation’. Many relationships are formed on the idea that whoever is the most aloof, wins. Needs go unexpressed, there is a serious lack of communication, and inevitably, heartbreak ensues.

The seed was planted by Jenny in February, when working closely with our good friend writer/director/photographer Kyle James-Patrick. We pitched it for a MuchFact grant, but with no luck, we worked our tails off performing until we could self fund the video.

We intentionally wanted to make a provocative and thought provoking piece, purposely pushing boundaries. Did this video make you sad? uncomfortable? excited? We wanted the viewers to reach within and find out why that is and how it relates to their own life.

HipHopCanada: What kind of reactions have you received from the community about your newest release? 

I M U R: The video has had a vast array of feedback. The three common of which are: 1) “Man, that hit me in all the feels, so beautifully made, and I can mad relate”, 2) “Buttttttssss!!”, 3) “This makes me feel uncomfortable and upset and here’s why…”. We feel the song itself is very relatable, ‘FFL’ stands for Fight, fuck, love. If you’ve ever been in a relationship, chances are you’ve experienced at least one of those.

HipHopCanada: What’s your writing process like? 

I M U R: We don’t have a set writing process, per say. Each member tends to bring different ideas at different times that can spark influence in another. Sometimes it starts with a beat concept, sometimes it’s lyrics or a riff, and other times it’s made out of an improv during a jam session.

HipHopCanada:  There are so many influences that listeners can take away from your music, but how do you describe yourselves as a group?

I M U R: Since we don’t like doing it, but people love a good box to put you in, we will use one of those genres that doesn’t really make sense and you’re not sure what it is, so we’re not held down to a certain style or sound. Let’s say future soul. To us that says: we got that 90’s hiphop/r&b, jazz roots, but we’ll take it and add some bounce fo dat ass and a pinch of psychedelic, cuz we know you crazy like us.

HipHopCanada: What kind of projects can listeners look forward to (and will they potentially include more butts)? 

I M U R: We have some collabs coming out that we’re very excited about.  Groundwerk will soon be releasing a remix EP which they held a contest for ‘FFL’.  Other than that, we’re steady on the grind and have a ton of music in the vault, so you can expect a steady flow of tunes from us.

Our projects will always include at least 3 butts, because there’s 3 of us, and we all have butts. Hopefully it will include all of your butts too, we’re always down for more butts. You can email your butts to anytime!

Twitter: @weareIMUR

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With classical training from the Royal Conservatory of Music, Kira's musical perspectives and critiques are fueled by her technical ear. She's interviewed prominent artists in Rap and R&B, such as: Rick Ross, G-Eazy, Khalid, and Kiki Rowe. When she's not reviewing local shows on the West Coast, she's a production coordinator for DHX Media and part time Journalism student at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Follow her on twitter at @kirahunston.

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