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Aural Fix: Stef Chura

Aural Fix: Stef Chura

Photo by Kelsey Hart

Tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone. You can either wallow in mediocrity or leave your mark on the world before shuffling off this mortal coil. Of these two options, musician Stef Chura has chosen the latter.

Chura’s musical career started in 2009 when she moved from her hometown of Alpena Michigan, south to Ypsilanti where she began writing music and playing shows. In 2012, Chura migrated to her current home base of Detroit, pulling double duty in the Motor City’s DIY indie scene: home recording and self-releasing cassettes of her songs while playing bass in a series of local bands. It wasn’t until the death of a close friend that Chura was inspired to record and release an album proper.

“One of my best friends passed away and I thought, ‘What do I have to do before I die?’” Chura recalls. “I have to at least make one record.”

The result was 2017’s Messes (Urinal Cake Records). Culling from a dearth of demos and 4-track home recordings, Chura produced Messes 11 songs with the help of Fred Thomas (Saturday Looks Good to Me). Messes’ rollicking rollercoaster ride of emotion not only received positive reviews from Rolling Stone, Pitchfork and Exclaim!, but immediate notice from Saddle Creek Records, which re-released the album the following year.

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The depth of Chura’s emotional range imbues her music with both vulnerability and confidence, delivered with unconventionally fluctuating and charged vocal inflections. Like Chrissie Hynde, Kathleen Hanna and Kim Gordon before her, Chura is an artist taking bold risks in indie rock’s current staid climate.  

With the release of her latest album, Midnight, Chura and producer Will Toledo (Car Seat Headrest) have elevated her vocals from Messes’ depths. This more pronounced spiky swagger of Chura’s vocals are on full display in songs such as “Scream,” lead single “Method Man” and a cover of Billy Idol’s “Eyes Without a Face,” which, in Chura’s hands, only serves to illustrate how truly bizarre this once Top 40 hit is. Bucket list be damned, two albums in and Stef Chura is already leaving an impressive imprint on the musical landscape.