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Sharfla

SharflaSydney-based electronic dance pop duo, Sharfla, is the fusion of singer Roncey Horton’s Scottish inflections over fresh, floating vocal hooks and producer Paul Worth’s highly structured, minimalist approach to rhythm. Now, five years since the pair first started working together, their latest release, the Bitter Pill EP, is the next big step in their musical journey. SHAUN COWE chats with the duo about the process behind their distinctive songs.

“In the early days, we had to learn what we were both good at, and also how to communicate our ideas to each other. It took a lot longer to get the results we were happy with,” says Horton. “It’s kind of like learning a new language. Now our process is so much more streamlined. We both know what fits each other’s individual styles, and we know what will work and what won’t, so it’s kinda like a telepathy now.”

Eschewing the natural career path for their newfound superpower of world saving and/or domination for a life of dance pop, one of the obvious questions that presents itself is what the dynamic duo draw their inspiration from. Horton is quick to point to one source:

“For me, it’s definitely the landscape of Scotland. So bleak and grand, and grey and beautiful, along with living in Edinburgh, a medieval city, has definitely affected my lyrics and vibe of the songs. There’s quite a lot of romanticism associated with Scotland, it’s so wildly different from Sydney!”

Having moved from Scotland’s rugged shores to the sunny Sydney coast, the pair are now trying to get settled in their adopted country. One of the biggest questions now hanging in the air is how the sea change will affect their sound, which has such a distinctive Northern electronic feel.

“At the moment most of our energy is going into getting our new live set happening. Most of our studio stuff is still in a shipping container at sea, but we’ve got a mobile setup to keep us going in the meantime. We certainly feel there’s a difference, but it’s hard to say at this point!”

One of Sharfla’s biggest musical drawcards is their varied approach to composition. With plenty of influences outside the world of electronic music, the band tends to vary from track to track, with harder dance songs giving way indie pop-influenced tracks. A lot of this might be explained by the pair’s juxtaposed backgrounds.

“Although I came from more of a jazz and funk background as a drummer, dance music was always around me in the places I hung out, and I always loved the beats and the basslines that took me to another place,” says Worth. “A lot of my friends were starting to put together their own home studios, sampling and using sequencers, and I always thought it was something that I’d like to get into. I also did music production at The BRIT School [For Performing Arts and Technology in London].”

Horton’s musical pedigree, however, comes from her time as the universal indie archetype, a trait that is still represented in the melodies she sings.

“I’ve always loved lots of different types of music, in my teens I was singing in indie bands, but also clubbing and hitting the raves and doofs,” she says. “I never really thought about writing electronic music at the time I just thought of myself as singer/songwriter. When I moved to the UK, there was a point when I was living in small town in Scotland, with nothing happening, no clubs, no bands, and I thought how can I still have a creative outlet? I bought a laptop, and started learning how to make electronic music.”