Jam Sessions: Women of the Scene. Turkuaz’s Shira Elias Shares Words and Wisdom
Words by Sarah Bourque
Published August 17, 2016
The Women of the Scene series continues, as we get to know the ladies from Turkuaz. Shira Elias, one of the singers of the group, shared her thoughts on the industry and her words for young girls out there who feel they want to pursue this path.
ShowTheShow: When you were younger, did you have it in your mind that this is what you wanted to do? Was there a switch that turned on?
Shira Elias: I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know that this was exactly what I wanted to do. I grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia. I feel like my whole life I was waiting to move to New York to start that chapter. I grew up doing a ton of theater and singing from a wee little age. From when I came out of the womb, I knew this was what I was going to do. There was never a moment.
STS: Was your family supportive of you growing up?
SE: Yes! Oddly enough, my name means song in Hebrew, which makes it sort of serendipitous. From the beginning, they took me to all the lessons: dancing, singing, acting, all of that stuff.
STS: Who were your inspirations and idols?
SE: Growing up in the time that I did, in the whole pop diva world, it was Mariah Carey, Beyonce, Jessica Simpson, Christina Aguilera. Then Whitney Houston of course. When I got a little older, and more mature, I delved more into Aretha Franklin, and the older soul queens. That’s now who I look too, and Stevie Wonder, and the whole soul world. Definitely growing up in the time I did, it was the pop queens and pop princesses. I learned a lot about just how to sing my face off.
STS: Working in this industry can be pretty tough. The ratio from men to women is so uneven. What obstacles have you faced?
SE: A lot of people ask that question and come at it that way. I really look at it as an advantage. Some people think, ‘you work so hard, it must be so crazy you’re one of the only girls around.’ I look at it as an opportunity that I get all these things that the guys don’t. I get treated pretty great. I’m also more of a rare creature in this industry, in our world, so I really feel like it’s a great opportunity, and we need more of us. I feel honored that I get to stand at the front of that and be an inspiration for females. Sure, there’s some stinky boys out there but, honestly, I don’t find it an issue at all. Maybe I like being around dudes. It’s awesome.
A lot of times you get taken care of. Anyone who treats us inferior, or lower, is a douchebag. Other than that, I feel we’re a little bit of a treasure. There’s so many dude bands, and they are a dime a dozen in a way. Obviously, there’s special ones and not so special ones. When I find other females in our scene, I think “this is so awesome!” I think it’s really important that we all support each other, and champion each other, because we are making it happen.
STS: Up to this point, what has been one of the most memorable moments on stage?
SE: That’s hard. I think one of the coolest moments was on the last night of our Brooklyn Bowl three night run that was sold out. There’s this one song that Sammi [Garett] and I go off stage for a really short time while there’s some solos that happen. When we came back down to do our final song at the end of the show, I remember there was a crazy out of body moment when I was walking down in my crazy yellow flowy outfit and looking at the crowd, because we’re up high, coming down the stairs. It was sold out. It was a Saturday night in Brooklyn, and I was about to go walk on and do whatever the song is. It was just a really cool moment. Life is awesome! I’m really lucky that this is my life. It’s not the easiest and we work really hard. There’s a lot of us and nobody’s making bank, but it’s a really good life. Whoever thought I would get to walk in to this amazing thing?
STS: What piece of advice would you give to young girls to inspire them so they continue to follow the musical path?
SE: Definitely be you. Be whatever you are, and not try to be someone else. Spend all your time to enhance what you are, and what you have, other than trying to be this other person you think people might want. At the end of the day, you are only you. You’re the best you. No one can do it better than you. I think that would be something awesome to hear at a young age, and that you don’t have to try and be some other thing. Just be the best you. You can be something else, but you can be awesome and amazing, and hopefully that’s a trend going forward.
If you are headed to the Lockn’ Festival in Virginia, make sure to catch Elias, as she joins Turkuaz, on stage. In addition, the band has just announced their Fall 2016 tour with The New Mastersounds. For more information on Shira Elias, and Turkuaz, please visit their official website.