“It’s deeply, deeply in the blood,” Mysie says of the music she makes. Raised in South East London but with familial roots that stretch back generations to Uganda, the artist can retroactively plot the path to where she is now: making intimate indie soul that takes her listeners along with her on the journey through raw and sensitive emotional spaces. In it, you’ll find a character, one unafraid to be both headstrong and sensitive; carefree and vulnerable. Executive produced by Fraser T. Smith (Stormzy, Adele, Dave), the five track EP will be called Undertones.
As a child, the music in Mysie’s home, played by her parents and through her own speakers, prophesied the arrival of a future star; a young black woman with an immense presence and songwriting prowess. The likes of Alicia Keys, Chaka Khan and Sadé were introduced to her by her parents. It acted as an invaluable introduction to the sounds that would, in part, inspire Mysie’s own.
Later, the music she would move to as a dancer in her youth played a key part in widening her musical influences, showing her how the concept of genre could bend through an artist’s worldview. The likes of J Dilla, Thundercat and Flying Lotus introduced her to the alternative scene that would grow wider as she explored its depths, uncovering more influential artists that inspire her today, like Sampha and Moses Sumney.
Mysie’s early demos blew up online, catalysing a string of industry interest that led to her debut EP, Chapter 11, in 2019. The most prominent cut from Chapter 11 was a track that changed it all for Mysie: “Rocking Chair”. Mysie’s voice wraps around piano chords and swelling strings on the song she wrote when she was 17, about a boy who stood her up. At the time, she was doing everything pretty much DIY, but that period in Mysie’s development helped form music that changed things.
In 2020, using “Rocking Chair” as an example of her talent, the Ivor Novello Awards chose Mysie as their new Rising Star – which is where her relationship with Fraser began as part of the award’s mentoring scheme for nominees.
In Chapter 11’s wake crystalline clear music came into the world. “Bones”, released last summer, was an ode to following gut instincts. On the rousing “Patterns”, released in November, she took control of her own impulses, plotting her path to falling for someone. While these songs were making their way out into the world, Mysie was “in the studio” with Fraser T . Smith. The Grammy-winning songwriter/producer, known for his work with everybody from Adele to Stormzy, has a reputation for coercing star power out of those who are on a path to realising they’ve always possessed it.
Fraser signed Mysie to his label, 70Hz, and together they set out to make the music you hear now: considered, intimate indie soul that has captured Mysie’s spirit. “It’s amazing to find someone who wants to amplify my voice as a young black female musician,” Mysie says. The subsequent sessions produced the project Mysie feels captures the spirit and soul of what she’s long desired to make: Undertones.
“It’s about my relationship with love itself and wearing my heart on my sleeve” she says of the project. Mysie’sattitude is embrace love, live within it, and make art from it, no matter the cost.
“Keep Up With Your Heart” – the first track release from the EP – balances languid, sunny guitar strings with a more sombre songwriting. It was inspired by a boy who cheated on her, but who she returned to after talking things through.
Mysie has settled now, but still finds inspiration in those bruising, exhilarating experiences. She’s grown up and grappled with love in its many forms; how that will unfold in future is still to be seen. What we do know is that, whatever the results, she’ll spin great, and ultimately feel-good music from those feelings.
The Great Escape 2022