Audiovisual Duo Shiro Schwarz On Experimentation & Defying Genre

Recently I got the chance to speak with Mexico City-based audiovisual duo Shiro Schwarz. Within the past few months Shiro Schwarz released a new two-track EP “Horizon” along with the respective music videos. I got the chance to delve into their musical background, inspirations, and their creative journey with new music. Read the full interview below!

Pammela “Pamm” Rojas and Rafael Marfil of Shiro Schwarz originally befriended each other in middle school, and after some time away they reunited in 2009 to make music. At this time, Pamm tells me they had many aliases, with a more deep house kind of sound. It wasn’t until 2011 where Shiro Schwarz got its name, and switched to the 80s inspired sound that they’re known for today. 

Going into their 80s sound, I ask them what specifically inspires Shiro Schwarz, as upon discovering their music a year back, the 80s aesthetics were very stand out. Pamm and Rafael tell me how their initial goal was to recreate the 80s funk sound, however as of late they’re currently in a transitional period with music genres. Rafael explains how steak is good, but  “you can’t eat steak everyday”, alluding to the desire to try something different from their original 80s funk aesthetic….”Let go of genres”. They tell me that now their sound is more of a combination of R&B, funk, electro/house and IDM. 

With this transition to surpass genre, Pamm and Rafael plan to focus on releasing a series of singles, as they are “adapting to a new style”. 

For their newest Single “Go Forward”, the idea of starting new and experimenting is extremely present sonically and lyrically. Pamm explains how this single represents making something positive out of disappointment. At the time Shiro Schwarz recorded it, Rafael mentions that he and Pamm had planned to live in Tokyo for 3 months, touring and making music. Unfortunately, due to their trip starting in March chaos ensued, leaving Pamm and Rafael having to abruptly end their stay only after a month in Tokyo. While making this track, Shiro Schwarz experienced a new way of making music, as this single was made in their tiny Tokyo apartment rather than a studio. Rafael tells me how they bought new synths and equipment when arriving in Tokyo, as the transport cost for their equipment in Mexico City wasn’t worth the cost and hassle. During his search, he found a keyboard with “vapor sounds” and decided it was exactly what they needed for this single. Pamm recalls having to sing very quietly while recording because their apartment complex had strict policies about noise, so they whispered into their mics with hopes of not getting caught. 

The “vapor sounds” Rafael mentions lingers in my mind. Upon discovering Shiro Schwarz, their aesthetic and music reminded me heavily of Vaporwave and Future Funk, making me nostalgic to the times I religiously listened to those genres in my early days on Soundcloud and 8tracks. 

We share a similarity in living in Tokyo for a month—it brings me to the topic of City Pop music. Pamm adores it—she excitedly gets up to show me her compilation vinyl filled with the classics. 

With the audiovisual elements of Shiro Schwarz, I assume their shows must be quite the experience. I ask about their favorite show so far, with Pamm and Rafael both mentioning their performance at Funkmosphere in Los Angeles. Rafael tells me it was their 2nd time live in LA, and “felt like a dream come true”, emphasizing “[he] felt like [he] succeeded”. Pamm gets into detail about Funkmosphere, and how everyone was really into dancing…Seems like a fun time. Hearing her talk about an exclusively funk-themed show makes me wish I was there…I have to go to Funkmosphere eventually whenever it happens again. 

Aside from performances I ask what their favorite releases have been so far. Pamm and Rafael emphasize that they definitely enjoy their newest, more experimental releases. Pamm mentions that Secrets “makes [her] happy”. As for older releases, Shiro Schwarz enjoys Under the Moonlight, Burning Inside and City Lights. 

Pamm and Rafael tell me that the singles from their recent EP are connected sonically and through their music videos. Down below are the videos for No Fear No Shame, and Go Forward, which premiered on Thursday. 

Closing, I ask if they have any words of wisdom. Rafael says “take care of yourself, eat well and drink lots of water…Be nice to animals and nature”. Pamm similarly says “take care of yourself, give time to yourself, and take care of your mind”.

Support Shiro Schwarz on Spotify, Apple Music, Soundcloud and Bandcamp. Keep up with Shiro Schwarz on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook!

Interview Written By: Alexa Terry