English singer, songwriter, and guitarist, Mychelle has released a brand new EP titled IT’S not YOU, it’s me. Born in Hackney, UK, Mychelle began her music career after being spotted by Idris Elba while she was busking. She’d been playing the guitar on and off throughout her childhood and was looking for a way to get her music out there. Elba invited Mychelle to his studio to write and sing on his Yardie Mixtape project, which was the soundtrack to the film he directed. Soon after, Mychelle released her debut EP, Closure, followed by Someone Who Knows.
With this third project, Mychelle continues to be just as raw and sensitive in her lyrics as she sings tracks about friendships and relationships that make her realize her self-worth. She says, “I wanted to share vulnerability alongside moments of comfortability and self-respect,” she says. “They all co-exist when going through a breakup or the ending of a friendship. It’s sad to go through it but it’s also important to know when you deserve better.”
The EP fuses Mychelle’s signature R&B and neo-soul sounds with indie, folk, and acoustic pop melodies, in a way, paying homage to where it all started for her with busking when it was just her and her guitar. In celebration of the EP’s release, the singer has also shared a music video for the fourth track in the EP titled “Magical.” Describing the song, Mychelle says, “That song was definitely inspired by India Arie’s ‘Video’. At the time, I was complaining to my co-writer that I’m always writing sad love songs. I wanted to write something that could boost me up and say ‘this is me, take it or leave it!’”
We chat with Mychelle about the new EP, her creative process, busking, and more!
What inspired you to busk in the past?
I actually started through this competition and it was to encourage young people to busk around London. And yeah, it was a really nice competition. They offered licenses to some of the people that were involved. So, I decided to keep busking afterward. Ed Sheeran did a bit of busking as well and you just never know. It’s a nice way to get out there.
Can you tell us more about the competition?
It was a competition that happened every year. I had seen it somewhere and that was my introduction to busking.
What were some of the songs you sang?
I used to sing my own songs and I’d put a cover in there sometimes. A lot of people usually do covers, but I just used the time to practice songs that I’ve written on the guitar and practice guitar as well. If people liked the songs that they were hearing on the street, then I knew that hopefully, they’d do well when I put them out. So, I was testing the songs that I’d written.
That’s really cool. Did anyone ever approach you about the original songs you played?
Yeah, they did at times. Sometimes people would find and follow me on Instagram after and then they’d message me saying ‘I’m still waiting on that song’ and I’d tell them ‘one day!’.
“Hurts” is a genre-fusing track that is quite different from your last single “Tightrope”. When you go into the studio for sessions, such as the one with your producer Hugo, do you have an idea set in mind on how you want that specific track to go in terms of sound? Or even lyrics?
Not really. Sometimes I have an idea, but when I do have an idea, it doesn’t usually go that way. But with this session, I think we played with each other’s things. Usually, when I go in, we ask each other what we’ve been listening to lately, and then that sometimes inspires us. With that session, it was the first time I met him, so I didn’t really know what to expect, but I was really happy with how the session turned out.
You’ve said that you’re kind of tired of writing sad songs and you wanted to veer into more uplifting lyrics, such as with your track “Magical”. For me, when I do creative/fictional writing, a lot of times it’s almost easier to write the sad bits and the angsty bits, as opposed to the happy, romantic, uplifting parts. Would you say you’re the same?
It’s a way of expressing how you’re feeling. Because if I’m saying the things in the song and going around telling people how sad I am, it’s a bit draining, but in a song, it works and can be enjoyed. So putting sad feelings in writing doesn’t feel as draining. Whereas with happy moments, I feel like they’re easier to express in other ways.
How was your experience writing your song “Magical” since it’s not usually the type of song you write?
That was fun, actually, because I feel like it’s a bit more uplifting, but it still taps into some struggles. It was nice to just be like, okay, this is who I am. Take it or leave it, which is how it should be.
So the director actually came up with the idea, but when I read it, I was like, this guy knows my life because at home it’s the same thing. As soon as I read it, I knew this was the route that I wanted it to go down. I have two younger sisters. It was the same thing with them, still to this day, because at home you do hide your sadness. But at the same time, you don’t let your family know when you’re going through something. Even if you don’t tell them, it’s the energy that you project. So it was nice that the story kind of reflected that. In real life, I’m always trying to be there for my sisters and what they’re going through.
With these last three music videos of yours, you’ve done concepts where you bring in actors to play out the narrative. Would you say it’s important to you to put out visuals to your track that tell a story?
Yeah, I think it’s nice to tell a story because it adds a bit more depth to the song as well because when you listen to a song, your mind might go somewhere else. Then when you watch a video, you can interpret it in a different way. So yeah, I do like the storytelling and I’ve really enjoyed having actors and a dancer as well come in and add something to it as well.
Can you tell us about your new EP and what listeners can expect to take away from the 5 tracks?
I just hope they enjoy having that insight into my vulnerability and maybe relate to it in ways even though some songs are on the sad side. With songs like “Magical”, I want them to learn their worth because even in sad situations, you have to constantly remind yourself that I am good enough.
Having completed your third EP and kind of looking back to where it started with you busking and then getting noticed by Idris Elba, how do you feel about where you are as an artist and where do you hope to go from here?
At the moment, I really can’t believe I’m on my third EP already. It feels like time has gone by so quickly. I’m really happy with all the music and the videos and everyone I work with. I’m just so grateful because it’s been a fun process. I know some people, who don’t enjoy the journey as much, but I’ve really enjoyed my journey so far. And I just hope to keep putting out music that I am proud of and keep telling more stories, and hopefully reach more people and do more shows. I think for me, I just appreciate how much I’ve enjoyed it and I want to continue enjoying it at whatever scale.