INTERVIEW: JUSTINE TYRELL TALKS TRACK 'MY NAME,' HER FORTHCOMING EP, EFFECTIVE ADVOCACY + MORE

Photo by: Juhee Anderson
Justine Tyrell hones a sound of her own by beautifully merging her sultry vocals and modern flare with the iconic RnB stylings of the early 2000s.

Growing up in an eclectic household around everything from Hip Hop, to Blues and Country, music was Tyrell's first love and the way that she was able to process the world which led to her writing her first song at the age of seven. When asked about her biggest influences, the Calgary-based singer notes:

“[They are] somewhere between discovering my first Aaliyah CD, crying to the first Amy Winehouse song I ever heard, scribbling down song ideas in the back of my journals– and the feeling I got when the hair stood up on end, at my first concert.”


Tyrell was instantly drawn to music and began singing, writing and performing as a natural reaction to the way it all made her feel and is hopeful that her music will bring the same solace to those who listen.

Justine is set to release her debut EP this April and has already dropped three tracks from the record. "My Name" is the latest single, preceded by "Worthy" and "Radar." "My Name" showcases a new side of both Tyrell's vocal and production talents, acting as her own vocal producer on the track. Focused on keeping the music slow and simplistic, Tyrell wanted to dedicate ample space for her vocals to take the forefront.

“'My Name' is the song that says, let's shut out the world – and forget there’s anyone else, but me and you. I wanted the song to feel smooth and intimate in nature – yet hypnotic and full of layers to discover. From the way we produced the vocal, to the way we filtered the start of the song – the soundscape and mood is meant to tease more and more elements as you listen though.”


Ahead of her debut EP release, Tyrell has already earned nominations for Singer of the Year, Solo Artist of the Year, Media Personality of the Year (Obsidian Awards), and has been named one of Branded Magazine’s "Game Changers" in her hometown. Her vibey tracks has earned notable playlists slots and radio play.

On top of her musical success, Tyrell is committed to speaking out on the injustices of the world as a trusted voice for the Black Lives Matter movement. Tyrell speaks from personal experience when advocating for "education, mindfulness and consistency" in striving for social change: 

“Self-education is so important – don’t wait for others to teach you. Looking out for diversity gaps in the work place, being mindful of micro aggressions and stereotypes that we may notice, supporting black business, entrepreneurs, and black voices regularity – especially as we move out of Black History month and have the opportunity to uphold an inclusive standard 24/7, 365 days a year.”


From her melodic tracks to her social activism, Tyrell has many stories to tell and is looking forward to sharing her next chapter. Her forthcoming EP – reflective of the bitter and sweet tastes of love and relationships, combines her diary-like lyricism with a sound that is refreshing yet familiar.

Q: How would you describe your artistry?


My artistry is a place where I get to shape a mood, where I can infuse the sides of me, my thoughts and imagination, and the things I see going on around me - into a soundscape. I’m a singer and a writer, but I also love the production stage, working with my collaborators to craft the small details, to give listeners something that can move through the different moods of their own lives with them.

Q: Your sound is refreshing and reminiscent of the early 2000s mixed with modern flair. Who are the artists from both eras inspiring your music?


Thank you! Aaliyah will forever be the queen! Her music, grace, style, and impact, inspired me so much, and was a major inspiration in wanting to be a singer. Mya, Alicia Keys, Ashanti – were all also my favourites. Now I’m really inspired by artists like Drake, Masago, Summer Walker, and Snoh Aalegra.

Q: What drives your passion to create during these unprecedented times?


I’m a big ball of chaos if I’m not creating. It’s my happy place, and the most natural outlet for me. I’ve found these times to be an opportunity to shut out the everyday hustle and bustle– because we really have no choice. We’ve all been pulled to a stop – which gave me even more space to honour what my creative brain is thinking and focus my energy onto bringing that to fruition.

Q: How's Calgary's music scene, how has it influenced you?


It’s intimate, it’s incredibly high caliber – and its evolving. We are shifting from being known for a few leading genres to pumping out great pop acts, R&B Soul artists, extremely talented producers, and great writers. I want to see more support for our scene, because it really is a bit of a hidden gem. It’s the place I found my voice, grew my confidence on my first intimate stages, learned how much I love connecting with a live audience, and building that connection with a listener.

Q: Tell us about your new single "My Name":


It’s all about that magnetic, hypnotic type of chemistry with another. The attitude is sultry, yet unabashed and confident. The reverse sound within the track ended up being a staple, in inspiring this idea of this love that’s ‘stuck on repeat, in reverse’ that one would want to keep coming back to. We were really intentional with the vocal production in this song, building out lots of layers and harmonies – to give the soundscape more depth and feeling.

Q: What can we expect from your forthcoming EP?


Expect trap soul influences, throwback elements reminiscent of old school R&B – all with a smooth contemporary finish. It captures love and its unraveling, to something that is smoky, 808 driven, and completely self-indulgent. We’ve also reimagined a couple elements of existing tracks, to tie in a few surprises that made me fall in love with some of my favorite records when I was younger.

Q: You're a trusted voice for the Black Lives Matter movement. What's your advice on practicing effective advocacy on social change?


Education, mindfulness, and consistency. I can only ever speak from my personal experiences, which were largely experiencing racism in the education system, in macroaggressions throughout my life, and seeing racial bias and prejudice both quietly and loudly at work towards family members, myself and others in my community who experience it far worse than I have. Self-education is so important – don’t wait for other to teach you. Looking out for diversity gaps in the work place, being mindful of micro aggressions and stereotypes that we may notice, supporting black business, entrepreneurs, and black voices regularity – especially as we move out of Black History month and have the opportunity to uphold an inclusive standard 24/7, 365 days a year.

Q: What's next for Justine Tyrell?


My debut EP, more music, exciting visual drops – and more coffee. Lots more coffee.



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