Mysie interview: South London talent on winning the Ivors Rising Star Award

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Exciting emerging talent Mysie has been named as the first recipient of The Ivors Academy’s Rising Star Award.

The 26-year-old Streatham-based artist was crowned winner of the Rising Star Award with Apple Music at the prestigious Ivors ceremony hosted this year on the Matt Wilkinson Show on Apple Music 1.

She was one of five young British and Irish songwriters nominated for the award – a line-up which also included Amahla, Carmel Smickersgill, Griff, and lullahush.

As part of the nomination, Mysie was taken under the mentorship of Grammy and Ivor Novello Award-winning producer Fraser T Smith, who’s worked with the likes of Adele, Dave and Stormzy.

In an interview with The I, Smith said on Mysie: “She has an absolutely wonderful talent, the same as Dave and Stormzy. She’s ready to make the best music she possibly can.”

Her debut EP Chapter 11 was released in 2019 to major acclaim leading to support from the likes of BBC Radio 6 Music and the NME.

New single Bones affirms her status as one of the UK’s brightest new voices – and her Rising Star Award with Apple Music is set to propel her to the top.

Daily Star Online’s Rory McKeown caught up with Mysie to talk about her win, her career so far, her love of Mac DeMarco’s music, her influences, and how south London has moulded her as an artist.

Hi Mysie. Congratulations on winning the Ivors Rising Star Award. How does it feel and what does it mean to you?

“Honestly, it means the world. It’s such an amazing opportunity and incredible achievement for me. To be nominated for such a prestigious award is such an honour. I’m so, so honoured. I’m super, super grateful.”

Did you ever think you’d win?

“I had no clue! All the other nominees were incredible. I just didn’t expect it. I was just minding my own business, just creating!”

You're the first to receive it. Does it make it extra special?

“Yeah, it’s unreal! I can’t even put it into words to be the first Rising Star. It’s incredible.”

As part of the nomination, you were mentored by Fraser T Smith, who’s worked with Stormzy, Dave and Adele. What it’s been like working with him and what was the partnership between you both?

“Amazing. I really learned so much from the beginning. Even now to this point I feel like, as months have gone by, I’ve learned so much from Fraser. I’m just so grateful to be mentored by him. He’s made the most legendary, amazing music. To be mentored and look up to someone like that is so important.

“He gives great guidance. He’s always been there. In the studio we’ve been writing, socially distant of course, but it’s really been the best experience of my life.

“He’s really open and he loves to play. I love to play. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the mentorship programme and hopefully this will be a lifetime thing.”

Do you think will take the guidance and what you’ve learned from him going forward with your creative output?

“Absolutely. I’ve just learned so much. There’s no limit and that’s one thing he says. It’s all limitless.”

You were also nominated with an array of great UK and Irish talent. What do you make of the scene at the moment and what was it like to be nominated alongside some outstanding musicians?

“It’s so amazing to be surrounded by these incredible nominees. Everyone is so individual. They bring such original music and it’s incredible to be put on the same level as everyone. I feel UK music right now is incredible.

“There’s some real amazing rising talent. I’m super excited for that and I love listening to new music and new writing. It’s great to see progression.”

You released your second single of the year in Bones, a real cathartic listen and you describe as “going within and seeing what your gut has to offer”. What’s your usual songwriting process and are you at your best when you go within yourself for inspiration?

“Instinct for me is so important. It’s always right. In terms of my writing process, I always go within.

“When I approach my writing, it always starts with the melody and the heartbeat of the song. It’s really what you feel and through that comes words. Those words are connected to your gut. It just progresses.

“All of my music is totally from within. I feel in particular Bones, being in lockdown and having to distraction and writing music with nothing – of course a lot going on out there – but being in my room, I feel like I really connected.”

How have you found lockdown? Did it change how you worked?

“In the first two weeks of lockdown everyone was in that state of ‘what is going on?’. As time went on I knuckled down. Of course so much was going on, but having this escapism from what’s going on and to be able to create, I’ve never felt so zoned in.

“I’ve never felt my music so relevant. This next series of music, including Bones, is just so direct and so present. I really love it. I’m really excited for the response for this.”

It follows the release of Sweet Relief and Heartbeat, as well as your debut EP Chapter 11. How do you think you’ve evolved as a songwriter and an artist?

“I would say I’ve progressed a lot from Chapter 11. I feel almost like a different person. I feel that’s the beauty of it, you’re constantly evolving and progressing. I look back at Chapter 11, and that was only a year ago, but I feel like I wrote that a decade ago!

“I do feel like that my songwriting process has totally evolved. New music has embraced my ears. I’ve been influenced by so many different things, even the outside circumstance like the environment and everything that’s going on around us. It affects you. As I grow as a human, my music will grow and my songwriting grows. I feel like there’s been a big progression and change.”

You were also inspired by Mac DeMarco’s song On the Level. Do you enjoy delving into that style of music?

“Totally! I’m super inspired by a huge influence of music. Mac DeMarco, when I first heard that, I was in studio in session just before recording Dust from Chapter 11 and I heard On the Level – I could not believe my ears! I played that song every day for a year after that. I’m not even joking.

“I’m so inspired by musicians that are influenced by 70s, 80s, 90s – I love that nostalgic feel that make it timeless. I’ve grown up in many different places. I’m based in south London but I grew up in South Africa for a bit. I was influenced by the music out there. I heard a lot of Congolese music growing up. My grandad was a jazz musician as well. It’s in the blood. I’ve been inspired by so much music.”

When did you start getting into music? Were you at a young age when you picked up instruments?

“I started music when I was seven. I started training in classical piano. I didn’t start singing properly until I was 14. At the time I didn’t know I could sing!

"I knew I loved classical piano. I went on to 16. A boy broke my heart. I wrote a song about that. I started composing from there and consistently wrote and wrote and wrote, and here we are now.”

How has London moulded you as an artist?

“Absolutely. South London especially. There’s quite a big garage scene, garage nation down on Streatham Common. I used to go.

"South London has totally inspired my music taste. All that deep house. It’s really moulded me.”

What can we expect next from you next? Are you thinking about your next steps?

“I’m hoping for another single after the single. Hopefully an EP early next year I’ll be dropping for sure. Then hopefully an album by the end of 2021. We’ll have to see!”

The 2020 Winners are:

Best Album
Grey Area – Written by Inflo and Little Simz
Performed by Little Simz
Published in the UK by Universal Music Publishing

Best Contemporary Song
Black – Written by Dave and Fraser T Smith
Performed by Dave
Published in the UK by Warner Chappell Music and Kobalt Music Publishing

Best Original Film Score
Midsommar – Composed by Bobby Krlic
Published in the UK by A24 Music – Kobalt Music Publishing

Best Original Video Game Score
Draugen – Composed by Simon Poole

Best Song Musically and Lyrically
Age of Anxiety – Written and performed by Jamie Cullum
Published in the UK by Sentric Music Ltd

Best Television Soundtrack
Euphoria – Composed by Labrinth
Published in the UK by Universal Music Publishing

PRS for Music Most Performed Work
Giant – Written by Calvin Harris, Jamie Hartman, Rag ‘n’ Bone Man and Troy Miller
Performed by Calvin Harris and Rag ‘n’ Bone Man
Published in the UK by EMI Music Publishing, Reservoir Reverb Music, Warner Chappell Music and Bucks Music Group

Rising Star Award with Apple Music
Presented to Mysie

Songwriter of the Year

Presented to Steve Mac

Academy Fellowship
Presented to Joan Armatrading MBE

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