Style Check with Surma


Coined “Portugal’s biggest hope in pop music” by Musikexpress and other international music media, Surma has quite the reputation to live up to. But anyone who’s ever met the humble and truly sweet-as-pie Débora Umbelino – the 22-year olds real name – knows that she doesn’t concern herself much with labels. Originally from Leira, a mid-sized town in central Portugal, Surma has chosen Lisbon as the starting point for her musical career.

Most frequently compared to Joanna Newsom, her high, angel-like voice gives her songs a very dreamy feel that is inherently captivating. No wonder renowned international festivals such as South by Southwest (SXSW), Eurosonic and Reeperbahn Festival all want a piece of her.

When it comes to producing her signature sound Surma is all hands on deck. With a background studying double bass in a jazz school the musician couldn’t help but take an interest in mastering as many instruments as she could. As a result she can be found mixing her own guitar and bass across layers of electronic samples taking full advantage of her loop pedals.

This is best showcased on her debut album entitled “Antwerpen” released in 2017 from Omnichord Records. The artists confesses that the year spent recording the album was certainly one of intensity. While still playing many shows she often found herself zig-zagging from gigs back to recording studios with a lot of time spent on the road where she confesses many of her songs first come to life.

Indeed, each song on the album is titled in a different language giving it an ongoing nomadic feel. However challenging it was, the experience of recording “Antwerpen” proved overall to be a profound journey for the artist on a personal and creative level and certainly turned heads in the music industry. Just this month she finds herself side by side with the XX, King Krule and Fever Ray to name a few, as a nominee for the IMPALA European album of the year award 2018 proving that this is not just beginner’s luck.

We’re thrilled to welcome Surma to Style Out Loud and have asked the multi-talented sweetheart a few quick fire questions. Enjoy!

Describe your own style in a soundbite!

“You should try to see something real and strange”

In your opinion, what is the connection between style and music?

Style and Music are really connected between them! I think it’s like an esthetic way to see that connection, Music without Style and Style without Music doesn’t make any sense, at all! For me it’s like a puzzle, and if some piece is missing you don’t have the essence itself.

How do you express your personality through style.

It’s like a mysterious and a discreet way mixed with a little bit of strangeness.

What track makes you want to immediately do a catwalk?

Kiasmos – Looped! With no doubt, when a listen this song it’s like a dance floor in my head, even on the subway I dance so bad with that track.

What are you top 3 style icons?

  • Twiggy
  • Peggy Moffitt
  • Penelope Tree

You can catch Surma live and in colour at Style Out Loud in Teatro Capitólio on the 8th of March in Lisbon. Check out Eventbrite for tickets!

Listen to Surma’s exclusive Style Out Loud playlist here:

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