In-depth interview : Shygirl
Words and interview Kasia Jaroch
Press photo Theo White
Polaroids Lola Banet
She walks in wearing a décolleté black dress, ornate fan (that she almost lost last night at a club in Paris) with all eyes on her. She is used to that. As Shygirl, she decided to write about the domination of women, narcissistic sex life, inevitably attracting a lot of glances.
Yet, she entered the game on an ultra-feminist basis, taking all the arguments out of the hands of the skeptics. She's not shy at all, as you can tell. The Shygirl name stands for a weak imaginary girl she tries to reverse.
Blaine Muise, the former art student, uses music as a primary artistic tool; thus, each production is narratively expanded. With the very first Want More single, Shygirl draws from the UK garage and grime locking it in with a vibrant club music frame. Muise equally trusts her feelings and intuition, releasing singles that correspond to her current state of mind. She sums it up with the familiar cute might delete later mood.
In conversation with Kasia Jaroch, before the Avant Art Festival show in Poland, Shygirl tells us how to take life as a never-ending art class.
KJ: Are you equally open IRL as you are as Shygirl?
SHYGIRL: Yeah, it's a constant. The honesty level is the same for my private life. If you are an open book, no secrets can be held against you. I don't think there is much difference in what I share as Shygirl; I don't have any secrets.
KJ: Was that your assumption from the very beginning? One of the first songs that you used to perform express this dissonance of the on / off-stage character. Look at me / don't look at me / I'm shy. Do you remember?
SHYGIRL: That was one of my first shows, hosted by Kenzo and NTS Radio. A mixture of unreleased stuff and songs in transitions. I think I only had like one song released back then. Nothing else had been released, but NTS was really supportive and it was nice to have them as a platform. As you can tell, I'm not shy at all. The Shygirl-name and how it came about is just that I used to DJ with my friend, Mia and that was our name together.
When I started making music, I just kept the name; she wasn't djing anymore. The reason we chose the name was because of the stereotypical image of shy women, the idea of weak and mild girls. We were playing the fashion parties a lot, so looking at women at the male gaze was very sharply outlined. I think that the commanding gaze turns in its head. Doing something that implies being looked at, you need to enter on your terms. Because you knew that people were gonna look at you. This is my space. It's not about being shy; it's about the weak girl imagery.
KJ: Isn't that as well the general mood of Gush? That part when you say that "I don't need you to say" put the person and her will in a center. How do you perceive this fragment?
SHYGIRL: Gush, in particular, was about being tempestuous. I trust my mood, it's not always the same, my feelings change, but I don't care. I can do what I want. That is loosely translated in all songs. Gush is a bit more explicit, you know. Curvy, happy, sunny, it's all mine. That's what it comes with. Especially because the tone of the song is quite playful. There's no swearing in it. And so that playful nature, no matter if I'm happy or sad, it's fun and let's roll with it.
KJ: You released Cruel Practice EP last year since then you've putting out singles from time to time. How would you explain no albums, just singles tactics?
SHYGIRL: This year, it's been a very organic process. I wanted to have time to sit with people, develop my music and develop as an artist before I say I'm ready for another project. It felt weird to put out another thing. I want to progress further from the last EP.
The singles are sound stages of progression. I feel like Uckers is a big jump from Cruel Practice, right? You can see it is a bit of an update, and it makes sense, but I'm so far away from another project. I love to be able to enjoy a song. Just enjoy the music, without any context. And it's so easy now, putting out singles on the streaming platforms. Regardless, people are always asking for more; whether you put out five tracks or six tracks, they just want more. You guys don't know what's good for you, so I'm giving you only one track in time.
KJ: The video for Nasty is about leaking your nudes and sex videos on the internet. It is you taking control of your body?
SHYGIRL: That type of highly erotic videos, at the time but now as well, people share for attention, for gratification. That's what I was doing with the guy I was dating. Regardless of what he said, I sent it because I felt hot. You don't send nudes when you feel like shit. It made me feel better, so I decided to push that image further. If it's good enough to send it to him, it's good enough to share. Those pictures were for me regardless to whom I sent them, they were, in the first place, for me. I was always fascinated with the aesthetic of a cam girl vibe. You're looking into the camera, but foremost, you're looking into yourself, constantly. You can't see who's on the other side. It can't be a nutritions experience, the more you're looking at yourself, the more you see.
KJ: It is also a firm reference to bodyworkers.
SHYGIRL: It's for anyone. It's for the girls who upload pictures on Instagram. It's for the guys who do that too. If I didn't have this self-drive to be open if I was actually shy and if these pictures came out from another source, they could work against me. I decided to embrace that image, so it can never be used against me. That's how I do with anything in life. it's the easiest way to put it. It's also a side of yourself, you don't do it every day, you know, it's one little piece, and it felt great then. But it's more feeling cute might delete later vibe, right?
KJ: From somewhat restrained videos, you go for narratively and technically complex pictures. Uckers is the most advanced of all your music videos to date. Could you elaborate on the theme of Uckers, and how does it reflect your aesthetics?
SHYGIRL: It's still in development. It's an extension of me every day. I collaborate with friends because they know exactly where I'm coming from, how I want to be seen, sometimes before I even know it. It's like your friend completes the sentence for you. That's very much how the creative process was like with that video. It was back and forth within myself and Margot Bowman, whom I've known for years. It's definitely about the collaboration. We didn't want to get stuck in the context. I feel like me and the person I work with need to know where it comes from and what we want to see ahead of us. I know what I can do myself; I want to know what I can do with others. It's more exciting to me.
KJ: The video is both very complex and frivolous.
SHYGIRL: We wanted to show the carefreeness. That was what I felt with this song. It was like the after-party with a couple of friends, one of them showed me the picture of the guy on Instagram, asking me if he was hot. I was like yeah, I'd fucked him, like whatever. I'm just throwing it out now about any guy. And it was how it came across. But it's more like acknowledging positive reckless behavior. That means you're an active participant in your life. You're not just rolling down the hill; you're driving the car down the road, you know. I know where I'm going. And I think that's what I wanted behind: this energy, dancing around in this free form space with no edges, just curves. And I'm feeling so comfortable in it. So it's about owning your space and knowing where you are. That's what we wanted.
KJ: How do you feel about getting yourself into work with mixed media artists as you did with Lotte Anderson for How do You Feel About Lying?
SHYGIRL: I come from the art background. That's what I studied at university, so I kind of think of myself as a mixed media artist anyway. Using music is only one form of expressing myself. I'll never forget the other types, and I definitely need them. Lotte mixes sound, vision, movement, expression. We exist in the same plain, but we are at different points of it. My art is music, this is how I see it, she is doubling in a lot of things at the moment but at the time dance was the main one. And I really felt drowned in that, and I also like her perception of characters and how we embody different personas. That's me and Shygirl's situation. That is a massive blur, whether it's a character or not. It was about how you want to introduce yourself to someone. Instead of saying my name, I say Shygirl because that's who I am right now. It's not necessarily a separate part of me; it's a face for life. This project, to me, was about being inspired by people that are around you. It was just conversation; it happened very organically. Sometimes your muses become your collaborators. If you're true to what you're doing, you'd naturally click with other people; If you're doing something for yourself and for someone else to see you. It's the connection we had at the time. A lot of people are free to do different things and not be so stuck. It's a never-ending art class. I need to collaborate, do things, encounter things happening around me, translate that into words and music. I can't write when nothing is going on.
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