Nymph

Shygirl

Nymph

Shygirl toyed with simply self-titling her debut album, but Nymph felt far more evocative—and fitting. “A nymph is an alluring character but also an ambiguous one,” the artist and DJ, whose real name is Blane Muise, tells Apple Music. “You don’t quite know what they’re about, so you can project onto them a little bit of what you want.” Co-written with collaborators including Mura Masa, BloodPop®, and longtime producer Sega Bodega, it’s an album that defies categorization, its stunning, shape-shifting tracks blending everything from rap and UK garage to folktronica and Eurodance. Along the way, it reveals fascinating new layers to the South London singer, rapper, and songwriter. While Nymph contains moments that match the “bravado” (her word) of earlier EPs Cruel Practice and ALIAS, Shygirl says this album is “ultimately the story of my relationship with vulnerability.” As ever, sensuality is central, but she resists the “sex-positive” label. “With a track like ‘Shlut,’ I’m not saying my desire is good or bad,” she says. “I’m just saying it’s authentically who I am.” Read on as Shygirl guides us through her beguiling debut album, one song at a time. “Woe” “This song is me acclimatizing to the audience’s presence and how vocal they are. Sometimes it’s annoying to have all these other voices [around you] when you’re trying to figure out your own. But then, on the flip of that, isn’t it nice that people actually want something from you? I often do that: give myself space to express some frustration or an emotion, then look at it in different ways. Sometimes I do that with sensitivity, and sometimes I’m just taking the piss out of myself. Like, ‘OK now, just get over it.’” “Come For Me” “For me, this song is a conversation between myself and [producer] Arca because we hadn’t met in person when we made it. She would send me little sketches of beats, then I would respond with vocal melodies. Working on this track was one of the first times I was experimenting with vocal production on Logic, manipulating my voice and stuff. It was really daunting to send ideas over to Arca because she’s such an amazing producer. But she was so responsive, and that was really empowering for me.” “Shlut” “I said to Sega [Bodega], ‘I want to use more guitar.’ I love that style of music, more folky stuff, because I used to listen to Keane and Florence + the Machine in my younger days. So, that’s definitely an undercurrent influence here, but the beat is a horse galloping. The horse was a very prevalent idea when I was making this album because it’s this powerful animal that is oftentimes in a domestic setting being controlled by someone. At the same time, there’s an element of choice in that relationship because the horse could easily not be tamed. I love that and relate to it a lot.” “Little Bit” “I have to give Sega credit for the beat. The way I work, mostly, is in the same room [as my collaborators], and we start from scratch. When most producers send me beats, I’m not inspired by them. But when Sega plays me stuff, I’m like ‘Wait, no—can I have that?’ I think because we started working together in 2015, he can probably anticipate what I want now. I never imagined hearing myself on a beat like this. It reminds me of a 50 Cent beat, which takes me back to my childhood. So, even the way I’m rapping here is nostalgic. I’m being playful and inserting myself into a sonic narrative that I didn’t think I would occupy.” “Firefly” “I started this song with Sega and [producer] Kingdom at a studio in LA, but then Sega had to leave for some reason. I was feeling a bit childish because I was like, ‘What’s more important than being in this room right now?’ So, then, with just me and Kingdom, I was like, ‘If I was going to make an R&B-style song, this is what it would sound like.’ I’d been listening to a lot of Janet Jackson, and I’d just watched her documentary. But really, I was kind of just taking the piss as I started freestyling the melodies. I really like being a bit flippant with melodies and not being too formulaic.” “Coochie (a bedtime story)” “The title is a Madonna reference. When I was shooting a Burberry campaign last year, her song ‘Bedtime Story’ was playing on repeat. It became the soundtrack to this moment where I was acclimatizing to a space [in my career] that was bigger than I had anticipated. I started writing this song at an Airbnb in Brighton with Sega and [co-writers] Cosha, Mura Masa, and Karma Kid. We were up super late one evening, and I was just sitting there, humming to myself. And I was like, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to have a cute song about coochie?’ Growing up as a girl, there’s not even a cute word for [your vagina]. Everything is so sexualized or anatomical. I was like, ‘I need to make this cute song that I would have liked to hear when I was younger.’” “Heaven” “This track is quite experimental. The production started quite garage-y, but then it got weird fast. And then we reworked it again because I wanted it to sound sweet. I was thinking about when I broke up with my ex-boyfriend; there were moments where I was like, ‘Can we just forget everything and get back together?’ Obviously, you can’t just forget everything—it’s childish to want to erase those parts, but I can have that space in my music. In some moments, my ex was my peace and my place of absolute escape. And that’s what I equated to heaven at that point.” “Nike” “This is me revisiting my childhood, being that teenager at the back of the bus. It started when [co-writer] Oscar Scheller played me this recording he’d made of girls talking on the bus, and in the original production, we even had that [chatter] in there. You know when a girl is talking and saying nothing but also saying everything? I was that person! My friends used to ask me for advice about stuff I had no experience in, and I would dish it out with such vim. I thought it would be funny to dip back into that space on this track and be playful with it. Because no matter how sensitive I get, there is always this part of me with real bravado.” “Poison” “I love Eurodance music. When I DJ, it’s what I play the most. I just find it really fun and sexy and flirtatious, and I relate to the upfront lyrics. Some of my audience probably isn’t as familiar with my musical references here, such as Cascada and Inna, so it’s fun to introduce them to that sound a little bit. And I love that we found a real accordion player to play on the track. I really enjoy the tone and texture that you can get from using a real instrument.” “Honey” “I made this track predominantly with [producer] Vegyn. It came out of a real jam session where we had music playing in the room, and I was speaking on the mic over it. You get the texture of that as the song starts. There’s a lot of feedback that reminds me of The Cardigans and stuff with that ’90s electronica vibe. For me, this track is all about sensualness. I had this idea of being in an orgasmic experience that keeps on intensifying, so I wanted to replicate that sonically. That’s why I’m repeating myself a lot and why the melody tends to rearrange just a little bit as I rearrange the order of the words as well.” “Missin u” “This song is about me being annoyed at my ex-boyfriend. We’d broken up like six times, and we weren’t even together at this point, and I was just being really petulant about that. I write poems when I’m feeling any intensity of emotion, and so I wrote this poem where I was just really dismissive of the whole situation. Then, when I was in the studio with Sega, I put the poem to the beat he was working on. I wanted this track to feel a bit disruptive at the end of the album. Because no matter how sensitive I get, there is also this sharper energy to me and my approach to lyrics.” “Wildfire” “This track has a very Joshua Tree title because I wrote it with Noah Goldstein at his house there. I was imagining looking across a bonfire at someone I don’t even know but kind of fancy and seeing the fire reflecting in their eyes. I romanticize situations a lot in this way, so this song is really me riffing off that idea. It’s main-character syndrome, I guess! I don’t really like closed beginnings and endings. If I was to write a story, I would always give myself space for it to continue, and I think ‘Wildfire’ does that a little bit. That’s why it’s the final track.”

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