MYSIE discusses new beginnings, pushing boundaries and the life-changing nature of J Dilla.
Mysie started in music under a different alias, Lizbet Sempa, which is her real name. Under Sempa she released a couple of tracks that managed to gain traction on Soundcloud. It was this recognition that made her realise music was something she could take seriously as a career.
“At the time, I was just singing to beats and realised something didn’t quite fit. I’d always played the piano, and when I got my heartbroken, I decided to write my first song as Lizbet Sempa and put it on Soundcloud. I recorded another song called “On These Hills’ and everything changed from there. The response was amazing and I kind of just went with it.”
Under Lizbet she was billed as a singer-songwriter, but when she changed her sound, she decided to rename herself Mysie. A name she derived from a Scottish variation of one of her middle names. “I’ve got many middle names, 3 to be exact, people always used to take the mick out of Margaery, so I thought why not use it?”
She credits the change to her sound from the wider musical pallette she got as she became older and started listening to different types of music.
“I didn’t feel like being behind a piano and singing, even though that was my choice, was me. I was listening to all these amazing influences like J Dilla, Flying Lotus and Thundercat and I thought, why I am I not putting those influences into my music?”
She also felt like always being behind an instrument put a barrier between her and the crowd. “I always saw myself full front connecting with people rather than behind a piano,” she says.
Talking to Mysie, you get a sense of how she doesn’t like boundaries or limitations. Be it for her music, the accompanying videos, or how she views performing. Rules and confinement are like Kryptonite to her.
“I felt (performing and recording as Sempa) there was a lot of outside influence from management about where to go with a song. Go to A, C, D but don’t go to G! That’s too daring and too dissonant. That put limits on my music, and I didn’t feel like I was exploring enough. I love layering, I love dissonance, and I love changing the time signature when it’s least expected.”
Her free-flowing nature saw her take a break from music, although she used her time away at acting school to bring other elements and influences to her work.
“I graduated two years ago from drama school. I performed at The Globe and did a few other acting jobs. All of that has contributed to what I am doing right now, and I’m using it to my advantage as Mysie. I’m currently in rehearsals with my band and my movement director when I perform I really want to put on a show.”
Her videos serve as a case and point example of this, some of the imagery wouldn’t feel out of place at an art exhibition, and her video for “Fall Away” feels like a short film as well as a music video. The tracks themselves are smooth and powerful, combining crescendoing melodies that create a delightful and atmospheric wall of noise.
Her EP, Chapter 11, is about breaking free from limits, although she reveals that there is a thematic meaning of debt to it.
“When it came to looking at the tracks and seeing what they’re all about, there was a lot to with debt. When you graduate, you’re in debt. When you’re coming out in the music industry, you’re in debt. You’re in debt with love, you’re in debt with time, your self-worth. It’s a recurring theme in all of my songs.”
Although the album’s foundations have some quite a niche meaning behind them, Mysie isn’t huge on preaching meanings.
“Music is a way of me connecting with people without being overly intellectual. It’s amazing that you connect music with time and how it takes you back to places.”
She’s a little coy on what’s lined up for the future. “I’m just working on my stuff. I have some performances lined up. It’s just going to get weirder from here.”
New single ’Sweet Relief’ is out now, watch the video below.
Photographer: Muffadal Abbas
Stylist: Libby Caradice
Hair Stylist: Ndey Sallah
MUA: Rebecca Hampson
Originally published inside Volume #32.