A&E » Music

I M U R's genre-bending makeout music

Vancouver's sultry electro-R&B trio plays the Whistler Film Festival's Music Showcase



There's no denying that Vancouver's breakthrough electronic outfit, I M U R, makes music with a certain cinematic flair. It also, apparently, is great to make out to.

Both of these qualities were proven out this summer during a long-awaited scene on SyFy Network's supernatural Western series, Wynonna Earp, that was set to the band's sensuous single, Breathless.

"It was (two) seasons in and people were waiting for this makeout scene. It happened during that," explains lead singer and keyboardist Jenny Lea. "It was a lesbian, science-fiction makeout scene, and people lost their shit."

Fans have been losing their collective minds upon discovering I M U R's (pronounced "I am, you are") singular brand of electro-tinged R&B. The three-piece out of East Van has been turning heads over the past year with their blend of live and digital sounds, landing on commercials for lululemon and Patagonia, and playing the mainstage at Bumbershoot.

Featuring producer and electric guitarist Mikey J Blige, and Amine Bouzaher on electric violin and bass, I M U R takes a top-down approach when crafting its genre-bending sound.

"Interestingly enough, we do it a bit backwards from most live bands, where we actually go in with the production first and then learn the songs live. So in that way, if you listen to our album and hear us live, it's not going to be the same thing," Lea explains. "It's going to be close, but there's going to be flourishes and these different dimensions that you won't catch on the album. We're trying to keep it simple and crisp (in the studio) — well, as simple and crisp as all that wobbling will allow."

Part of the band's approach was due to novelty — there weren't many live electronic acts experimenting with instrumentation onstage when they formed in 2015 — but it's primarily due to what Lea called a "musician-first" mentality.

"Realistically, the biggest reason for us is that we can express ourselves solely on our instruments. Whereas if it was more of a preprogrammed type of set, we don't really have a way that we can go off-script," she says. "We'll do a lot of improvisation during our live sets and get really trippy. Just all the fun stuff that we wouldn't get to do if it was just straight-up electronic."

Although she has clearly embraced the role, Lea didn't consider herself a capital-M musician during her formative years in Whistler, where she worked as a bank teller and had resigned herself to a ho-hum, 9-to-5 existence.

"Whistler is where I got my chops," she says. "I picked up a cheap guitar in my last couple years there and started to hit the open mics. I did one of those Whistler's Got Talent (competitions) on a whim one year and ended up coming in third, which was hilarious to me because I was in no way inclined to be titled any kind of musician at that point."

I M U R will be bringing their hybrid of atmospheric electronica, R&B and soul to the resort this weekend for a host of TV and film executives as part of the Whistler Film Festival's annual Music Showcase.

The two-night showcase features eight bands from across B.C., and kicks off at 9:30 p.m. on Nov. 30 at the GLC. Night 2 will be held at the Longhorn, with I M U R hitting the stage at 11:10 p.m.

Tickets to either night are $25, available at myshowpass.com. More information can be found at whistlerfilmfestival.com/festival/events.