Riding the independent wave, rapper, actor and now certified catwalk model, Shystie, is living and absolutely loving life. Following a string of successful mixtapes, the unsigned artist is awaiting the official release of Pink Mist EP this Sunday, tipped to be one of the biggest this year. Despite the controversy surrounding single, Control It featuring US rapper, Azaelia Banks, which Shystie put to bed with diss track, Doppelgänger, she remains open to working with other female artists and performs it at Birmingham’s I LUV LIVE with the most energy. Head-to-toe in black, offset by those infamous gold earrings of hers, we talk London Fashion Week, reinvention and being Shystie, not Chanelle.
Your EP’s out on Sunday, launch party is tomorrow. How are you feeling?
I’m so excited…it’s my first body of work – like original music for ages. I had loads of mixtapes out in 2011, 2012 but this is the new direction of Shystie, it’s all original music produced by LZB. I’m just ready to see how it goes because I’m not signed, I’m still independent. It’s just me, my producer and videographer so if this does well, it’s really good as an independent thing. Majors, they always do well but as an independent if everyone gets behind it and supports it…
I heard that the EP is all about exploring different aspects of yourself so sexuality, independence and individuality. How important is it for you to be completely outspoken as an artist?
I think I am! Sometimes I need a filter because I’m just like, ‘How far can I go?’. Even on my twitter if I’m on tweeting when X Factor’s on, I’ll just be dissing – not dissing so much the artist but forgetting, ‘You’re Shystie, not Chanelle,’ there’s no filter. On my music as well it’s in your face but I feel like I just spit about things that everyone’s talking about but doesn’t want to say. I’m just like f*** it, I’m going to say it and see what happens, and so far I’ve been alright.
The lead single, Control It ft Azaelia Banks, I know there’s been a little bit of bad blood between you two, and I’m not going to go into it because I know you’ve said your piece but has it made you weary about collaborating with other female artists in particular?
I don’t know because I’ve collaborated with females before like Lady Leshuur, Lioness -that’s the first international person that I’ve collaborated with and that’s been signed to a major but I don’t even know what her problem was and how that came about. All this shit like, ‘I want it out after my video,’ but mate, you haven’t even shot your video yet! My release date is this Sunday, I can’t wait. I’m an independent artist and money’s gone into that…. And then I just did the Doppelgänger track because again, as an independent artist, when you’re building something, don’t come and try and tear down what I’m building because loads of money’s going into it, loads of time and effort and because you’re on a major it’s not directly coming out of your pocket, it’s coming out of your label so you’re not feeling nothing…If anyone tries to violate me like that, I’m not having it! Major, independent, I don’t care.
There we go! It’s been said.
Yeah, that’s what I’m saying. I’m cool, I think next time if I do collaborate with someone these things will have to be sketched out from the jump – all from the jump and we’ll be fine.
Speaking of moving on and moving forward, your image, your sound, everything has definitely evolved. You’ve got a very sexy image now.
S: Please don’t talk about the tracksuits! The other day I had an interview and they said, ‘Oh your style and image has changed’. They pulled up one of my old images, I had on a cap backwards, some Adidas tracksuit and I was all gun fingers. I was just cringing and sliding down the wall like, ‘Please turn it off!’ It’s all changed now.
Is it fun reinventing yourself and moving along with the times because some people find it a challenge?
I think at the beginning when we were rebranding the whole ‘Shystie’ package I was thinking, ‘Oh s***. The last thing everyone saw me in was a tracksuit and really tomboyish,’ but I’ve grown up now and that was in at that time. Now as artists you have to have your fashion on lock. You have to have your personality to connect with people, it’s not just all about music and I think that’s where a lot of artists get it f***** up. If your image looks s***, trust me, it’s long! You’ve got little girls now looking up to you – they look up to Rihanna and want that top because she’s wearing it or those heels, so you have to think of all these things because it helps your package. I think I’m older now so I clocked that and plus, I can’t be wearing tracksuits and trainers anymore!
Not unless you’re going to the corner shop.
Have you always been so comfortable in your own skin? I know you’re moving more into fashion and have done a few major catwalks shows. How was that for you?
S: It was scary. With acting, I had never done it but then I got my own TV series. I remember when we were doing it, the first day that I had to shoot I was sitting in the car with my manager and the director, and they said, “Yeah we’re going to be shooting today, Dubplate Drama,” and I said, “Guys, you do know that I’ve done no acting before? Is nobody worried about this?” and they were like, “Oh s***. You’ll be fine, you’ll be fine!” and it’s the same with modelling. When I got asked to do London Fashion Week, I said, “Yeah, let’s do this,” but then I’m like to my manager, “I haven’t catwalked before. If I fall I don’t know what to do,” and he said, “Just go! Just do it!” I just found my way somehow and I pulled it off a little bit – it just works out. That’s why I like my job because it’s always different everyday…I’m really ambitious so I like having my fingers in loads of pies. Even if it doesn’t work, at least I’ve tried it because you never know in ten years I might not be flippin’ doing music, I might be doing acting.
Exactly, who knows?! What have you got planned for the rest of the year ahead?
S: I’m working on a new project at the minute so as soon as Pink Mist is finished and it’s ran its course, I’m going to be ready to drop another and have my next project ready to go so it’s just going to be music, music, music. I’ve been asked again to do New York Fashion Week this year as well. I’m just trying to jump on everything and do as much as I can. By the end of the year I just want to be more successful than I am today, so if by then I’ve done more and achieved more than I did at the start of the year, then that’s dope for me. I’m trying to stay positive, stay humble, have fun and just do well really.
I love that. Thank you.
Pink Mist EP is out this Sunday. PRE-ORDER HERE: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/pink-mist/id603590927