The Rebirth Of Justine Skye

The Rebirth Of Justine Skye

Allow her to reintroduce herself. Justine Skye shares her personal and artistic growth.

Allow her to reintroduce herself. Justine Skye shares her personal and artistic growth.

Photography: Lula Hyers

Text: Czar Van Gaal

Justine Skye, the “purple unicorn" queen, is no longer. Along with shedding her signature purple tresses and the nickname that came with them, the 23-year old Brooklynite is flexing an all-new outlook on life. “It’s time to see what else there is for me, and not just be stuck in that box of the girl with the purple hair,” she says. This renewed ambition, Skye says, is the result of a trying year spent reckoning with old wounds and rediscovering her sound. “Build” featuring Arin Ray, the first single off her upcoming album, is a soberingly powerful anthem on surviving domestic violence. “It was definitely a healing process for me,” says Skye. “It was very therapeutic to just focus on my craft and to put it into my music and art, instead of [it] just being balled up inside of me. Because that wasn’t helpful at all.”

As the introduction to Skye’s next chapter, “Build” is only the beginning. Here, in an exclusive conversation, Skye talks taking authority in her music, collaborating with Dev Hynes, and overcoming her social media anxieties. Read the full interview below.

V Tell us about “Build,” the first single off your upcoming album.

Justine Skye “Build" is the start of a more vulnerable Justine Skye. I guess when people go through something so traumatic, they tend to [have] a revelation: no one but yourself can get you out of those low points in your life. And in doing that, you figure out how strong you actually are. This [album] is going to exude [that] strength. I am really tapping into my authenticity, which I feel like I’ve kind of lost at a certain point in my career.

What do you mean when you say you lost yourself at a certain point?

JS I was signed when I was 17, so I just wanted to sing. Like it didn’t matter what I was singing. And then at a certain point there were so many people involved [that] I can honestly say I got caught up in everything around me. These people have been in the industry longer than me, so, you listen to them and you trust them. But sometimes you just hand other people the wheel and that’s really opposite of what you should be doing, especially in 2018. I had to sit down with myself and really think about what story I wanted to tell.

What differentiates this upcoming project from Ultraviolet, your debut album?

JS Ultraviolet was really about confidence. Just like me coming out of my shell. This project is about me being the woman I always wanted to be: being strong, being even more confident. Confidence doesn’t happen overnight, so you are continuously building, no pun intended. [Laughs.] I guess I was scared to share so much because, in this day and age with social media, you’re always being scrutinized.

With “Build” you shared your experience of domestic violence. What other issues or themes are exploring on the album?

JS One of the topics I am addressing is something I’ve noticed a lot of women [do], which is being mad at the other girl in [unfaithful] relationships. Basically, the song is just saying, “Girl, it’s not the other girl that you’re mad at. It’s the guy.” It’s something that I see happen way too often;  sometimes we don’t want to believe this guy is the problem. So, we fight with another woman who probably really didn’t even know we existed.

V What song are you going to release next? Do you know?

JS It’s hard to pick and choose, but a strong contender is the one I was telling you about—the one about the girls being mad at the wrong person. It’s a bit lighter than “Build,” but I feel like it continues with that message.

V Do you have a release date for the album?

JS My plan is to drop it sometime before March. There are so many different things that I am learning every single day about this industry, and about music in general. I think that’s my favorite part about it. It’s continuously changing, which is also kind of scary. Like all the music we are listening to today, like the rap that we are listening to now, [later on] we are probably going to be like, what was that?

You are continuously building, learning, and evolving. And with this new project, which I don’t really have a name for yet, I’m not rushing it or stressing myself [out] about it, which is what I’ve done in the past. Things kind of got miscommunicated, and I may have gotten not so attached to [music]. So, this project I am being very careful with that—to not make the same mistakes. Sometimes you feel like you are on a timer, and you have to do something. But you really don’t.

V That’s something a lot of people can probably relate to.

JS Yeah. When people first heard the song “Build,” the ladies just loved it off the bat. They were like, “Yes, if I could…” Then when the video came out people started to view the song from a different perspective, which is exactly what I wanted to happen. Initially I didn’t want to do choreography but then my creative director [Laurieann Gibson] said, “You want people to feel different things.” When they saw the video, they were feeling it, they were connecting; it’s a bop. It still has a good bounce to it, so I want people to feel that. I don’t want people to feel sad every time they hear it. I want people to feel strength.

V Is there anyone exciting that you are collaborating with or featuring on your upcoming project?

JS Dev Hynes and I actually just did a song the other day. He’s a close friend of mine and he’s just an amazing artist in general. We were at Electric Lady Studio, which is Jimi Hendrix’s studio. But yeah, and we came up with something so amazing and magical. He’s just magical in general.

V Anything else you want to everyone to know? What are you looking forward to next? It can be multiple things.

JS I am looking forward to my music dropping. I’ve never gotten a reaction like this, [based on] what I’ve shared with my friends so far. So that’s amazing. I am just excited to really go full force with everything and not hold back. As I was saying, I've been very passive and… I have just been very timid and, like, scared, I guess. And now I am not scared of anything. I’m ready, I’m ready. I don’t know what the future holds but I definitely have a great feeling about 2019. And I am excited!

Jacket, Blouse, Pant: Victoria Hayes
Shoes: Calvin 205W39NYC
Jewelry: VIOLA. Y
Credits: Photography: Lula Hyers Additional Photography: Ciara Gomez Beauty Artist: Raisa Thomas Hair Stylist: Ro Morgan Styling: Czar Van Gaal

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