The 28-year-old indie rocker’s music is fueled with the same feminist fervor. Chura’s used her debut LP, Messes, to create an outspoken ode about the power of accepting your emotional chaos. It’s an intoxicating mix of fingerpicked guitars and feedback loops, textured by Chura’s evocative, fuzzed-out vocals proclaiming the sheer humanity of fucking up.
“I feel like it’s just the human condition to [make] mistakes,” Chura says to me over the phone. “Invite them into your life in a way where you know something’s wrong [and] you know you should do something. Then you’ll want to do it anyways because it seems like an experience you should have.” Like clockwork, the album’s titular track, “Messes,” mirrors this sentiment. The dimly lit tune has very few lyrics, emphasizing the weight of each word: “I know you/Got lost in/Your own mess/Wrong for all the right reasons/I didn’t mind.”
For those of us with oppressed identities, expressing outward emotions requires a magnitude of strength. “There are just so many coded things,” Chura says of navigating life in a marginalized body. But, true to character, she refuses to let patriarchal language silence her. “If you’re too this or too that, you’ll be perceived as a bitch, or crazy, or too much, or drama. Just wear your heart on your sleeve. You can totally be emotional and be yourself, but you’re still gonna be judged under that set of pretenses that are inevitable and so subtle.”
Her rise through the ranks of the music industry is a tale of emotional female empowerment. When she entered the Detroit scene in 2012, Chura quickly noted the lack of intersectionality. “Detroit is one of the most segregated major cities,” she says. “There’s a huge rap scene and a really small rock scene, and I kind of wish that they were more involved with each other. Typically [in] the rock scene, if you weren’t playing garage rock people weren’t listening to you. It was extremely male-dominated, but there’s actually a really amazing new scene of women playing music in Detroit as far as guitar bands go.”
Chura and her band were picked as one of Paste Magazine’s “20 Bands to See at SXSW 2017,” and DIY Magazine dubbed the band one of “the best things we saw at SXSW.” Yet the band’s debut at the Austin media art festival wasn’t as glamorous as predicted. “The most fucked-up thing that happened,” Chura says, “was when we were waiting for the person we had to stay with. It was almost 3 am, [and] all of a sudden, all these cops started running and formed a semicircle around this car. There were like 20 guns pointed at this car, and all these guys had to shimmy out of this car. I guess they had shot a gun out of their car into the street.”
Despite witnessing a police chase, Chura is back on the road listening to murder mystery podcasts (“I listened to Serial all in one sitting; I’m like a little bit obsessed”) and getting ready for shows all up the East Coast. Her aspirations for the Boston crowd? “I just hope they are impressed in some form and have some kind of positive takeaway,” she says, “whether that’s buying the record or telling a friend. Or that they like, get my name tattooed on their ass by the time they leave.” You know which one we vote for.
STEF CHURA. FRI 3.24. ONCE BALLROOM, 156 HIGHLAND AVE., SOMERVILLE. 8PM/18+/$10-12. ONCESOMERVILLE.COM