Shiralee Coleman’s love for music began from a very young age. She would be the one collecting songs and putting together mixed tapes of all her favourite songs and sharing them with her friends at school. When she was at Uni, her love affair with music started by making mixed CDs. She fell in love with dance music and in turn, also fell in love with music festivals. That was a place she most felt free. She would look up at these DJs playing and would imagine being that person, making the crowd feel so good through music. It was only a matter of time.
Her first foray into the world of entertainment started off in Fashion PR and modelling. Shiralee travelled the world and then eventually came back to Sydney to work in a Fashion PR company. In 2012 social media was becoming more of a platform and she started sending their designer’s pieces to fashion bloggers. There weren’t many at the time. Designers then started asking Shiralee to wear their garments and shoot them for her socials. As a model she had all this experience being on set and using imagery. She started taking some creative direction and began to understand the importance of branding. Shiralee incorporated fashion and travel, shooting pieces from the world’s best destinations.
Shiralee’s love for music was always in the background, however, it was now time for her to take it to the next level. She contacted her good friend at the time DJ Fuel (now her manager) and he recommended her going to the ‘National Music Academy.’ There, she learnt how to mix and the craft of DJing. Shortly after came gigs around Newcastle & Sydney. Fast forward to 2020 when the world literally shutdown and so too did events & gigs. Shiralee was planning to move to Vegas and from there would go on to play in Ibiza and Marbella. She was planning to do fashion & travel blogging and play music around the world.
With this change in plans, Shiralee and the ‘Pumping Records’ crew got to work and started to focus more on music production. She wasn’t packing a bag and catching a flight anytime soon, so music was the new focus! As a result, Shiralee’s debut single Can You Feel It came to fruition.
How was the build up to the release of Can You Feel It?
The build up to the release of the song all started last year in lockdown. I started working on the idea of the track with two of the producers on Pumping Records, George Petridis and John Ibrahim. For someone who has travelled so much, and usually spends half the year away, I had never done this before. Stay in one place? I look back on the past year and now think, what we achieved has been amazing. Was it a blessing in disguise? Perhaps. We really got to work during this time with the team from Pumping Records, getting creative. I was forced to really zone in and make the most of this time in Australia. I wasn’t packing a bag all the time and catching flights onto the next place, the next project, I completely was at a standstill.
And here – music was created, ideas came to fruition, and its been quite amazing to be honest. From working in the studio on the music with the team at Pumping Records, then pairing it with the talents of lyrics by Chris Luder & Boswell + performed by Boswell, it was a creative process and a team effort in bringing it all together. I really don’t know what would have happened otherwise if I had moved overseas or gone on tour in Europe, but while we were in Australia in lockdown, I brought out a track! I My very own song. What was a dream before, I saw come to life. Even with restrictions we still managed to do one hell of a sold out show and launched it on the boat in Sydney, on Seadeck
Now that it has been released and its getting airplay all across the world on radio, even being played by some of the biggest DJs such as Dimitris Vegas and Like Mike – is incredible. And now that we are in the Top 50 ARIA Club Charts – I’m so happy that its been so well received since its release.
Do you usually have an idea in your head about how to approach it or does it start simply with just liking a certain song and going from there?
I definitely had some ideas of what I envisioned for the music, some songs and sounds that I really wanted to come through, with the thought that I would be playing this sexy house track perfect for summer, and beach clubs.
How do you see the difference between the three remixes?
The remixes that come with Can You Feel It have a flavour for different tastes; The Sabro remix is one that’s very upbeat house version that I love playing on the boat. Daniel Tonik has darker techno vibe and the 5am edit perfect for the rave scene. And DJ Fuels is a progressive track with a beautiful build up which sounds incredible in the club.
When did your interest in music start and when did you know you want to make music?
I was always interested in music from the start. I would be the one collecting songs and putting together mixed tapes of all my favourite songs and sharing these with my friends at school. This went onto further obsession where I would source and download songs, and the collections would take up all the memory on my computer. I think I was definitely more passionate about this than studying, looking back! The allocation of memory to songs vs my other work said it all. I would always show off the new finds anytime anyone came over to my house. When I was at Uni I was making CD’s. I would burn them and pass them around to people in my classes. This was before we could easily send a link of a song to someone, like we can now. To think I was making mixtapes even back then! And I’m still making them now. When people send me videos of them listening to the recent mixtapes we have brought out now, it does make me smile so much to think of how far this goes back.
I fell in love with dance music and in turn, also fell in love with music festivals. That was a place where I felt so free. I remember planning each festival with my friends, and we would do these road trips from Newcastle and play our ministry of sound CD’s all the way there – then lose ourselves (and usually each other) on these massive dancefloors. I really do miss what that feeling is like, dancing like that in a sea of people – its like I dreamt it. While I was dancing I would look up at these DJs playing and think wow HOW GOOD IS THIS! Imagine being that person making us all feel so good through the music. I was inspired and envious all at the same time. And so began the thought, of being a DJ, and creating music.
Is it tricky balancing the demands of music with your fashion PR/modelling?
Everything in my world has stemmed from the fashion and modelling. When I started to explore the music I really had to go all in. For me to learn to DJ, properly, I couldn’t be 50/50. If you’re passionate about something and want to achieve more, its requires more than 50% of your attention and time. To be honest, its not even a balance between that anymore, I had to decide what I wanted to do with my life – and now music has become my number one.
I went to National Music Academy and was mixing in my first lesson. I was on such a buzz when I left that session and instinctively knew THIS WAS WHERE I WAS MEANT TO BE. You know when something just clicks? I was so happy. I was also annoyed at myself for not doing it sooner. But, I couldn’t get angry at myself. The whole thing about DJing, is about TIMING. This did not happen for me before, because it wasn’t right then. But it was right, right now.
The people who have known me and my journey have seen me go through so many stages of my life, because my following started quite a while ago. They have seen me go into my very first steps from modelling to music, going to DJ school, and I’ve been very open about this journey and have brought everyone along with me. Was I scared? Fuck yes. Was I ever going to give up? I never considered it. When you love something and its your passion, you give it your all. You wake up and want to do more each day because the most beautiful things about playing is, there’s always a new way to do it. I will never play the same set. There is always one more song you want to play.
Do you have any other projects on the go?
I currently working on a collaboration with Daniel Tonik and this has been someone I really wanted to work with, after hearing his song Retrospect on The Party Life Radio Show. He is a super talented local artist from Australia, and our new single will be coming out in May with Pumping Records! The sound of this is next level! I cannot wait to share this. We have been working on this project this year.
How much are you looking forward to restrictions being relaxed completely so people can get back to shows and dance?
We are nearly there. The dancefloors coming back in the past few weeks has been new wind in my sails. I’ve been back at my residency at King Street Newcastle, which in my opinion, has some of the best dancefloors and energy in Australia. I had a really special moment last weekend where everyone was dancing to my set, which in itself was a feeling I had missed so much, having only played to seated audiences for a year. Someone that I didn’t even know came up and requested Can You Feel It, saying that they loved my song. I played it and the crowd danced and sang the words of the song back to me. It was incredible feeling that I had never had before! Dancing was back!! For one. PLUS they knew my song!
How hard has the last twelve months been for you?
Hard? YES. Challenging. VERY. Did I make the most of this time though? ABSOLUTELY.
I’m not one to shy away from a challenge and I feel like we still came out on top despite a lot of restrictions. It was actually very productive time for me creatively. I also have an incredibly talented team around me, and without them, and all of the work and love we put into our projects – this all would not be possible.
What’s next for Shiralee Coleman?
More music! And a tour when the international borders open up again. Get ready for that!
Interview By Rob Lyon