Sounds of Shefali
*Editor’s note: The saxophone player’s last name was incorrect in the print version of this article. It has been corrected online.
After a year-long hiatus, Shefali is returning to performance, full-force, with an upcoming show at Little Brother Brewing on Oct. 18.
“I’m happy to be back in the music world,” said Stefan Kei DiMuzio, the Japanese-born visual artist and musician, otherwise known as Shefali. “It’ll be my first electronic solo gig since late 2018. I played an electronic set at Little Brother last year, and have always wanted to return.”
As a performer who can’t be constrained to one genre or medium, Shefali is DiMuzio’s foundational artist persona. Though on its own embodies a solo electronic dance music endeavor, falling sonically between the Comet Is Coming and SOHN. Shefali and the Noir Roar is his rock band with show tune vibes. Shefali Sound Healing is a yoga arrangement that flows in tandem with classes. And then there’s Shefali’s Strings, a “guerrilla violin ensemble” in the works.
For someone who took a year off, Shefali’s been busy. “The talkbox is something I’m focusing on heavily at the moment,” he noted of this latest instrument obsession, “but that’s more of an effect for keys and guitar.” His songwriting practice stems primarily from a keyboard, but he’s also a formally trained vocalist and violinist with experience in “all the basic rock stuff:” guitar, bass and drums.
“My grandfather is a big musical influence on me,” Shefali explained of his origins, “he taught music in Japan and India in the ‘60s, and growing up we’d have concerts at New Years for my family in the mountains of Japan.” A practice that continues today.
Shefali’s musical introduction came with choir and childhood piano lessons, “but I ended up with violin after my instructor mysteriously vanished.” In high school, he joined an a capella quartet with gigs at “fancy bars and seedy clubs” throughout Tokyo. “I loved the thought of performing in places I was too young to normally get into,” he said, “and throughout high school and college, I wrote and recorded heavy metal, pop-punk, electro-pop and folk music on my laptop.”
Formative tones followed with a move to Greensboro from Tokyo for school. “UNCG had a really good representative that came to Tokyo, and I wanted to be closer to family who lived in North Carolina,” he explained. “After college, I faced the decision to move home or stay. And staying here was the best, but hardest decision I’ve ever made.”
As a result, Shefali remains a Triad musician and world traveler. Beyond the Little Brother solo show, he’s planning a full-band performance in November with his latest outfit, the Noir Roar. He’ll spend most of December in London, with plans to gather film for music videos and other visual endeavors.
A video for the upcoming Shefali and the Noir Roar single release has already been storyboarded. As for recordings, ”we’re going into recording mode this season, and plan to have an album out by spring 2020.” Carrying a show-tune feel, the Noir Roar is rounded with Robert Pennington on bass and Josh Davis on drums. The addition of Alex Hames on saxophone cemented their sound, which “transports me to the era of film noir classics,” Shefali explained of the band, born from musicians he met through collaborative endeavors with Quilla and Johanna Breed.
Shefali and Quilla have been audio-visual conspirators for years, partnering on performances, documentaries and music videos, with a film project in the works. Shefali and Breed are now recording funk and soul tracks for a winter release.
Also slated for the holiday season is the return of Shefali Sound Healing at Radiance Yoga in Greensboro. “Crafting tones and melodies for yoga makes me feel my music is creating something healing and positive,” he noted. “Music has always moved me emotionally, and after reading Masaru Emoto’s works on acoustics and water, I wondered how it could be affecting me physically as well.”
A featured musician at the Asheville Yoga Festival over the summer, Shefali Sound Healing aids in creating atmosphere rather than providing a soundtrack. “A lot of artists will simply play their own songs while a yoga class takes place,” he explained of the practice, “but I compose 100% of the music on the spot.” The benefit is twofold. “Each time I play a yoga class, my skills in improvisation and intuitive composing are exercised,” he said, ”I’ve gotten really used to reading a room and then writing a melody to what I feel.”
From yoga violins to show tunes to “new dimensions” of electro-pop, Shefali is emerging from hiatus with full steam. See what he’ll bring to Little Brother Brewing on Oct. 18.
Katei Cranford is a Triad music nerd who hosts the Tuesday Tour Report, a radio show that runs like a mixtape of artists touring NC the following week; 5-7 p.m. on WUAG 103.1fm.