A new wave of musicians is emerging from lockdown’s depths, tired of waiting around for a spotlight to steal. This year, timing will always be wrong. The revolution is now, and Mysie is ready to shine through the gloomy South London’s sky. We caught her in the middle of writing frenzy, thinking of playing for fans in exotic places and obsessing over The Rising Star IVORS nomination. Spoiler alert: she’s super excited.
“Honestly, it’s madness. I’m so grateful. I’m excited to be working with my mentor. It’s such an amazing opportunity,” she says. The thrill is real. After playing big-impact volumes from her turned inside-out heart, she’s now being acknowledged for her music and compositions. “Just being nominated is such a privilege and it’s such an amazing experience. Winning is just a bonus, isn’t it? I feel like you’ve already won if you’ve been nominated,” she shares. This rising star stays grounded. For Mysie it’s not about the win but the journey. Buckle up; it’s gonna be a long one.
The passion was there from day one. Growing up with a renowned Ugandan jazzman as grandad, then Lizbet Sempa was surrounded by music early on. “I was seven when I started playing the piano. When I got my first piano, I cried. I knew it was meant to be, and music has always been in my blood,” she recalls. What was fixed in childhood by tears and blood, blossomed in adolescence with a first fling. “I didn’t actually start properly singing ’till I was 14. I was playing a lot of my classical piano, a lot of classical pieces. One day, at 16, I got heartbroken – on my birthday. I was like, you know what? I’m gonna write a song. I wanna write a song.
“It started with a man. Then I couldn’t stop composing and writing. It just didn’t stop from there.”
What one heartbreak fired up was fuelled by a more worthy crowd. “Early on I was listening to a lot of J Dilla, Thundercat, Flying Lotus, very experimental music, but I’d say that a lot of my foundation is from artists like Duran Duran. All the music I’ve listened to growing up is a huge mix of influences in terms of writing,” she says, mapping her musical exploration during which sixteen-year-old Lizbet evolved into Mysie.
“Growth as a person affects the music naturally. So, as a person, I’ve grown, and my music has grown with me. That’s been just a huge part of my development within the music industry and within my music. I always try to push; if the sky is the limit, to go beyond. I would never put myself in a box, that’s been a huge thing to me,” she explains.
It’s a rare achievement in an industry that feeds off labels and often brands artists quicker then they’re able to figure themselves out. Though Mysie understands the basic urge to perceive music in categories, believing that the limitations are not always created intentionally. “I think it’s very easy to generalise art. You know, you hear my voice and think: ‘Oh that’s soul, she’s singing soul’. My music comes from many different influences. I wouldn’t say it’s just soul. I think it’s from the soul,” she says and lists her inspirations, from alternative to pop and R’n’B. Both instrumentally and lyrically, she draws upon anything authentic, emotional enough to spark her own flame, to burn through barriers. “It’s so interesting even thinking about it. It’s inspired by so many different places! It’s not just one thing, it’s not just having me in a box but, I reckon, opening it out. Things are changing,” she says.
Mysie isn’t afraid of changes and can twist a sour situation around. While the world was panicking locked inside, she faced fear and found freedom. ‘It was freeing. I honestly don’t know what I would’ve done without my piano, without writing, without some form of expression,’ she recalls. Despite missing everyday life little luxuries like going out to sessions, Mysie tapped into the revolutionary spirit of the last months. “Quarantine really forced me to face a lot of things and a lot has come out in this time. So much has come out politically in every sector of the world and writing in quarantine is the most releasing, most amazing thing ever,” she says.
Process of creating music is for Mysie less of smashing it out in the studio but more of a sacred, organic ritual. From summoning first shaky chords to the piano to feeling out the vibe and filling in with lyrics. “It’s based on the mood the chords are giving; then I start to mount words, and start to just mount gibberish. I pick words to relate to a situation I’ve been in, something I was going through, my friends are going through, or that I’ve just seen. It’s all based on the energy and the flow of where that song is going,” she explains.
Her newest single, ‘Gift’, was an exception to the rule, scribbled out in the creative heat on the freezing cold day. “I actually wrote that track with my long-term friend. It was a really late night, and I’d just missed my train so I was vexed. At the time I actually got contacted by an ex-friend, an ex-boy, and I haven’t heard from him for five years,” she explains, now laughing though the story comes from a serious place in her past and seriously toxic relationship. She recites the lyrics: “You’ve got the gift for reading me,” and explains that ironically, it’s not about gift but a kind of a talent that’s thriving on toxicity. “People have that way of manipulating, and they know what words to say and what words you wanna hear in order to get the response that they want,” Mysie gives background to her sarcastic and heart-shattering song about the pain of realisation that you’ve been controlled.
Luckily, now she seems to be thriving on the new possibilities and focuses on spreading joy for life, that she gets from writing, with fans. Her charm encompasses passion and desire to reach for the stars, no matter how far they are. It’s infectious. “One day, I will sing about geometry, and then the other day I will talk about how heartbroken I am from some wasteman. The sky’s the limit. Do as you please. Express yourself. I always want people to feel. It’s timeless to me. I want to feel people like they’re healing because a lot of my music is a healing process for me. It’s a universal thing when you’re talking about things like love, like nature, all of the big things,’ she shares.
Fingers crossed that we’ll get more of Mysie’s medicine soon enough. When asked about releasing a debut album in the upcoming months, she sounds promising. “Oh, I hope so. Wink, wink! Hopefully, yes. I’ve got so much lined-up and written. I’ve done so much music in the quarantine and put a lot down, like an album’s worth. We’ll see how it goes, I’m going with the flow with this, so I’m super excited,” she says, and we wait. In the meantime, check out Mysie’s latest obsessions – Ego Ella May’s new album, ‘Honey For Wounds’, and a sleek Swiss formation, The Sirens Of Lesbos.
While streaming her favourites, Mysie doesn’t plan far ahead but is straightforward in what she wants. “I can’t wait to start playing again. That’s my dream, to connect with people and my fans. I wanna be travelling around. I’ve got many fans in Brazil, and I’ve got quite a big fanbase in sun-based areas. My dream is to be making music every day and collaborate with my favourite collaborators. Continuing to write and to play. I miss playing; I miss being with people. I really do miss that connection. I’m looking forward to big things. Big things,” she says.
Taken from the September issue of Dork – order your copy below.
Words: Aleksandra Brzezicka