Don't be fooled by the nickname she's coined for herself: Shygirl doesn't have anything shy about her. You only need to check out one of her songs to be convinced - the nocturnal BB or the intense Slime, among others.
Extroverted, determined, daring and sexy, the London artist is not afraid of anything. She gives free rein to her most radical experiments, akin to Björk or Aphex Twin before her.
“I have never felt the slightest shyness," she admits to us on the phone from her London apartment. "I happen, of course, to have moments of nervousness or apprehension, but it passes very quickly, I force myself to overcome them to move forward. Pretending to have self-confidence ends up giving me real confidence. So when I started looking for a stage name, the term 'shy' attracted me because this concept is totally foreign to me. It's the exact opposite of my personality! ”
Shygirl has had a strong 2020. Even before the release of her ALIAS EP at the end of November, she made several notable appearances in numerous albums such as Arca's Grammy-nominated KiCk i, in queer rapper Zebra Katz's debut LESS IS MOORE.
In her seven-track EP, ALIAS, we discover her four alter egos (Baddie, Bonk, Bovine and Bae) who appear in her music in the form of digital avatars. “I've always wanted to explore these variations of my own because they reflect my music, ” she says. "I almost self-dissected those character traits that are expressed most often in me. ”
This gallery of characters would not be complete without a last first name in “B”, the one written on Shygirl's passport: Blane, a complex young woman from south London, graduated in photography. Before launching her musical career, she went through other full-time experiences, in a design agency and as a booker in a modelling agency. At the time, she wrote down her song ideas or lyrics on public transport, just for herself, without planning to share them. Since coming out as a musician, several lines have been added to her CV: DJ, co-founder of the Nuxxe label (parent company of Coucou Chloé, Oklou and Sega Bodega), director of her own clips, or even as a collaborator of the avant-garde electro.
Her kaleidoscopic vision of music is not new. When asked about her first fascination with music, two major works rise to the surface of her memory: the soundtrack of the cartoon The Jungle Book and the thundering single from The Prodigy Firestarter. “Two contrasting elements,” she admits, bursting into laughter. "Strangely, it always calmed me down when I was in a rowdy mood at home. ”
It was her friend Sega Bodega, the buzzy London producer interested in her calm voice and her submachine gun delivery, who pushed her to launch. In 2016, he invited her to sing on a piece he was preparing. The result, titled Want More, actually makes you want to hear more. “To my surprise, everything went very naturally right from the start,” says Shygirl. I didn't have to compromise or change who I am. I try things out, I like this process and by happy coincidence there are other people who also appreciate what I create. I post my new songs as they come, as soon as they're ready. The public therefore sees me evolve in real time, at the same time as I reveal myself to myself. ”
Her latest changes illuminate the seven futuristic tracks of EP Alias. Shygirl's detached yet punchy flow mingles with her tunes, infusing a clever mix of all her obsessions, from grime to R&B, rap to acid house, drum'n'bass to pop. The singer likes to feed off collaboration and surrounds herself here with guests such as Sega Bodega and Sophie, who were with her right from the start, but also Karma Kid, Oscar Scheller and Happa. “When it comes to design, I tend to want to do everything,” says Shygirl. Collaborations force me to come out of my shell and provoke a spontaneity that is difficult to achieve for a perfectionist alone in charge. The unforeseen can work wonderfully. It's also interesting to see new ways of working. I want to discover all the possible parameters for my music. My first EP was darker and anguished, I felt like stepping into a room for the first time, seeing if I belonged. With this new EP, I feel more confident and walk around every corner, speaking to different people and making my way through musical styles. ”
This quest for her self also involves the clothes she chooses to wear, with fashion and style as a means of expression. We could hear her music in 2017 for the launch of Kenzo Folio, or more recently, in a Mugler campaign last October. “I have to say that my look was a disaster when I was younger, ” she says with humour. Later, I worked as an assistant to stylist Mischa Notcutt, who is now my Creative Director, and I learned a lot from her. When I feel bad, I make an effort to dress well, for example putting on a GmbH dress that I love, and that helps me feel better. Clothes have that power. Fashion is very important for this very reason, not so much for the trends it dictates, but to help us better understand who we are and what we want to feel."
As free and unbridled as his music, Shygirl should soon take the next step: the preparation of an album that, if it comes to fruition in 2021, could take everything in its path.
Casting: Jennifer Eymère
Stylist: Lee Trigg
Stylist assistants: Joy Appiah & Sabira Haque
Photographer: Samuel Ibram
Alterations: Helen Studios
Makeup: Luz Giraldo for Mac Cosmetics & Roman Sam for Fudge