Armed with millions of plays on Spotify and a recent nomination for the Bandlab NME Awards 2022, Electopop multi-hyphenate Shye is arguably one of the Little Red Dot’s most prominent musical exports in recent years. Ever since her victory in the 2018 edition of the Vans Musicians Wanted competition in Singapore, the singer-songwriter-producer has accumulated various awards and cultivated a strong cult following for her music.
In this year’s Bandlab NME Awards, slated to happen on 3 March, she clinched the award for Best New Act (Asia), which put her in running for the Best New Act In The World category alongside international rising behemoths such as Olivia Rodrigo and Inhaler. Good news seem to always be around the corner for Shye as she was notified of her win and subsequent nomination shortly after her monumental feature on a billboard in New York City’s iconic Times Square as part of the Spotify EQUAL campaign.
“When I found out that I won, I didn’t even know that if you win the Asian category, you can be included in the global category. So, when I saw my name alongside Olivia Rodrigo’s, I thought: ’Oh my gosh! Wait, that’s so cool!’” Shye gushed, with a hint of the fangirl that lives in her, and, frankly, all music lovers.
One might think that someone like Shye, with all the accolades under her belt, would be a confident and outgoing diva, but that might just be the furthest from the truth, as we learnt over a socially-distanced Zoom meeting. Yes, the soon-to-be 20-year-old is chatty and open to talking about pretty much everything, yet she exudes a sweet down-to-earth humility that kept her real and relatable.
Besides being a published musician, Shye is also a full-time Audio Production student currently on a gap year until August. In order to cope with the demands of being both artist and student, time management is key. She tells us that, fortunately, she has mostly been able to work at her own pace, which allowed her to plan for her music and school assignments according to how she wants them to be done. However, as all students can relate, things get tough when submissions are due.
“When it was around submissions period at the end of 2020, I was also releasing my album. It was crazy and super chaotic! The dates lined up perfectly such that I was releasing at the same when everything is due,” she recalled. “It was quite hard and it can get really sian, but I kept telling myself that it’ll be over soon. I think that’s something I’ve been able to do pretty okay, in terms of managing my time and expectations.”
As a student at an arts school, Shye is constantly surrounded by likeminded creatives. Despite that, she does not have the habit of comparing herself to her peers. She admits that when her schoolmates would mention her music in conversations, she “leaves completely”, not stretching the conversation past the point of necessity.
“Actually, in school, I don’t talk about my music at all. In fact, I hate it when people bring it up because I feel very self-conscious and I’ll keep thinking whether they like it or if it’s good enough. It’s really awkward,” she stated.
The stress of school may be intense, but it seems that the pressure that weighs heaviest on the songstress’ mind is the one that she places on herself. It’s only natural that one wishes to be better than they used to be, but Shye confessed that there were times when she was the one putting all the expectations on herself.
“There have been moments where I’ve pressured myself a bit too much into thinking that everyone is pressuring me. But after a while, I’ve realised that it’s actually just me. That was when I realised that taking breaks is very important, especially if you have other things to attend to as well. You don’t want to drain yourself to the point where you can’t even do anything.”
A person’s support system is crucial in combatting life’s various stressors, and for Shye, her family, friends, and fans are the ones reminding her to rest and recharge. About a week ago, she released ‘still trying’, a Thank-You note to her core audience and fans who have been a part of her journey at any point in time. The waltz-y single lulls listeners into a comfortable trance; especially in the second verse when the instrumentals and vocals becomes muffled and pans between the left and right channels, giving the impression that the artist is speaking directly to the listener.
‘still trying’ is the product of the poignancy that Shye felt not being able to perform in-person for her fans due to the ongoing pandemic. “That was something that I really, really enjoyed pre-COVID, when I had shows and I could meet my fans and talk to them after the set. When I couldn’t see them or interact with them, it kind of made me question if anyone was still listening,” the singer admitted.
“The feeling of disconnection was very strong. But, instead of sulking about it, I chose to frame it as a ‘Thank You’ to all of them, regardless of whether they still listen to me or not. I just want to thank them for allowing my music to take up space in their lives.”Shye
Fun fact: The track was supposed to be included in Shye’s debut album, days to morning glory. However, it was then pushed into her mini-album, hello TRINITY. Even so, it sadly got bumped off, yet again. After all the delays, the song finally has its time of day now that its out for the world to behold. “I feel like the song is more special now that it’s a single, so there’s a lot more focus on it.”
When asked about which of her two records’ sound she related to the most, Shye explained that while days to morning glory was written when she was going though “a very emo time”, hello TRINITY was her becoming more confident in herself and her craft. “They are very different in terms of the music style. I don’t know which one I resonate with more because both are very significant turning points in my life and they are all parts of me,” she pondered.
As we wrapped the interview, Shye shared with us some of her plans for the rest of 2022: Attend the Bandlab NME Awards ceremony in London, dropping more new music and singles, and hopefully play a show or two. She also hopes to tackle one of her biggest personal resolutions – getting her driver’s licence.
“As COVID restrictions loosen up, I hope it’ll be easier to book classes because I heard it was quite difficult with all the limitations. But once I get my licence, I want to drive my mother around and pick my little brother up from school. I don’t know why, but picking him up from school is something I’ve always wanted to do, even though he’s quite old, he’s 14 already,” Shye shared with a chuckle.
Shye’s latest single, ‘still trying’ is out now on all streaming platforms. You can also find her on Instagram via @shye.mp3.
For more interesting interviews with Asian artists, check out our Music section.