Interview: Shadow Play heads Le Loup & Pura discuss hearing protection
Leo, aka Le Loup, and Pura, partners in life and now in their label, Shadow Play, have both been involved in the music scene for the majority of their careers. Shadow Play was born out of a single, casual conversation about music, and has been built out of a mutual love for unique styles. With influences from Jazz, Techno and IDM, their output is consistently high quality, well-crafted dance music.
For varying reasons, Leo and Pura are major advocates for hearing protection. Recently, they made a selection of tracks to help sooth your ears for Watch The Hype. Following this, we invited the duo back in to delve deeper into their stories for our All Ears blog. Here, Pura describes her intense struggles with Hyperacusis, and they both share their advice with us.
Hey Leo, Pura, how are you both?
We are good thank you for asking!
What have you been up to recently?
Pura organised a massive surprise party for my 30th birthday a week ago. I felt so so lucky, and honoured, to have all my friends with me. It was funny because it was full of DJs on a Saturday night but no one wanted to play music. We were occupied with drinking good natural wines and eating smelly cheese.
I went to Athens for the first time as well, to play for the Revolt crew. The party ended with a b2b with my friend Roussos. It was one of the best experiences I’ve had recently. The rest of the time I’m just looking for records or producing at home. We are also always on the looking for new music for the label.
Tell me how you came together to start your label Shadow Play?
The idea for the label popped up during summer 2015. We were at home talking about music and the scene. Pura has this thing where she will always push me to see things through another perspective. Suddenly she brought up the fact that I wasn’t running my own label yet. I had thought my commitment with Hold Youth was enough and maybe my own label was not a priority for me right at that moment but after she asked me that question everything changed. I felt like the time had come, as Pura suggested it and it made so much sense.
So, after that night we knew we were ready to create a new chapter with this project because it was obvious to both of us that we needed to express our passion and love for music through something of our own.
Pura, you have Hyperacusis right? What is this exactly and how did it come about?
I had arranged to see a friend who invited me to a concert on 8 April 2016. Originally, I was not interested in the concert itself and just wanted to share a moment with my friend… and I didn’t except such a thing could happen to me. Just before the concert started a DJ was warming up and the sound was very loud and really aggressive. I remember having to excuse myself and go outside to escape it. When I tried to go back in the room I still couldn’t stand the sound at all, it was hurting me even with wax earplugs and after 10 minutes I had to leave.
I’ve always been sensitive to sound exposure anyway but was it was mostly related to tinnitus problems. I always tried to avoid places with shitty sound but I didn’t invest in pro earplugs. It was always in my mind to buy some of those... I was already conscious of taking care of my ears but I didn’t have a clue about other ear problems.
So, I took a cab and sat in silence until I got home… I didn’t pay attention initially to the fact that something could have changed my perception of sound. But I remember perfectly that we wanted to see a movie about music and I couldn’t stand the high frequencies, I felt something weird was happening. I couldn’t stand any sound, and little by little it started to get worse. From that moment I went nuts and I had to lock myself in a room alone, with no sound.
Then Leo checked on internet what this could be and hyperacusis popped up. I was in shock with real pain. I saw doctors and the stuff they give you is just basic medicine to try to calm you down, but they didn’t help at all and after two weeks I did a test with a medical centre that specialises in hyperacusis and tinnitus. They gave the final, fatal diagnosis. The nightmare was real.
How does it affect you? Was this what triggered you wearing earplugs?
It affects my entire life, my connection to music as well. I was listening to music all the time. I was always with my headphones and my music on. It’s my inspiration for everything and my therapy. So being in silence, not even able to watch a movie as well, was a real breakdown in my life.
Earplugs are not an option anymore because it’s too late. In the end the most difficult part of this thing is also the isolation you have to get through because you can’t socialise anymore. I remember not being able to even speak on the phone. It was almost impossible for long time, you are really alone. Also, people sometimes don’t get it and you get ashamed to think your affliction can bother them – they feel they need to be cautious just to be around me.
I don’t know how I did it but now I’m stabilised. Thanks to a friend, I borrowed some phase opposition headphones that allow me to go out a bit more and be around people; but only for a limited variety of situations - no clubs, no restaurants, no bars, anywhere it’s overcrowded and very loud. It’s still difficult but I’ve managed to find some tricks to be able to have an almost normal life – however it’s a very long and winding road.
Leo, did this also trigger you to wear them too?
I got my earplugs before this happened, but it was a very shocking reminder of how important it is to wear them.
How have you found wearing them when DJing/producing?
I never play with my earplugs because I need to hear all the frequencies and be comfortable. I try to be careful with sound levels in the booth and in my headphones, but sometimes when sound is bad it’s complicated. A DJ set, most of the time, is around two hours, so the time you’re exposed to loud sounds is quite short.
I think the most dangerous situation is when you stand in front of really loud speakers for hours. When I’m producing I don’t put the sound up loud because you are listening to a loop for hours, and you need to be careful when you are using headphones. It’s really important to take breaks to relieve the ears and give the mind a breather, too.
What’s the reception been like from other artists when you wear them?
It’s something normal in the scene. Most of the professional DJs I know are wearing earplugs or some kind of protection.
If there’s one piece of advice you could give to artists and/or fans with regard to protecting their ears, what would it be?
The only advice we can give is to protect your ears as soon as possible. The more you are exposed, the more risk you take, because everyone has their own limits. We are not equal with these problems. Everyone has a capacity with their ears that we lose gradually during our life. Ears are very sensitive and precious so let’s be aware of this and spread the word because when it’s too late you can’t go back.
What’s next for Shadow play?
We have one release scheduled for January by UK producer Scott Edward. He mostly produced in the 90s with different aliases and we have always been into his music so we are really proud to have him on the label. All the tracks are from the same era in the early 90s; one is a repress from Out Of Orbit and the rest is unreleased on vinyl with two tracks from a different alias of his called Ultra Modern Art which is more about IDM, jazz & melodic electronic music. We also have an EP ready by a young French artist called Daïf that will be out around March/April 2018.