A Star's Debut

A Star's Debut
by Haley Proctor

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m from Baltimore, Maryland. I moved to L.A. about four years ago where I was on a journey to figure out what career path I wanted to do. I thought I was going to be a lawyer. Look at me now. I got involved with my faith in God. It called me to do music. I've had an anomaly of random events happen where people just walked up to me and said you need to write again. And I was like, oh, that's God. I took that lead and I started writing music.

"Chemicals" is your debut single. What is “Chemicals” about and where did the inspiration for it come from?

“Chemicals” is actually about mental health awareness. I was in a really rough patch. I'm one of the happiest people in the world to most people's eye. I think because of how I was raised and just who I am as a person, I always held on to different emotions that caused me pain and suffering. I kind of kept it to myself. I was in a really dark place; I started to experience suicidal thoughts.

I woke up one day and I asked God what's wrong with me. At a time I was supposed to be happy, I was very sad. It's usually the happiest people you know who are some of the saddest people. God turned me to Google which pointed to chemical imbalances. I was like, man, it must be the chemicals, so I made the song to make people aware.

I love that you focus on mental health awareness. It’s absolutely necessary.

I say amen for mental health awareness. Guys, just spread love. Seriously, during this time, a lot of people are going through mental illnesses while having to adjust to this pandemic. I encourage people to be cautious and to be safe instead of being fearful. Also, don't forget to love people unconditionally and be accepting.

"As I said, “Chemicals” is about this chemical between me and myself because you are your biggest enemy." - Shyloh Grey

Tell us about the visuals of the single. There’s a knife, a teddy bear, pink and purple colors. Make it make sense for us.

As I said, “Chemicals” is about this chemical imbalance between me and myself because you are your biggest enemy. As a child with many siblings [13], imagine being stuck in your head with yourself. Who are you playing with? Yourself. Each of those teddy bears represent a part of me, a part of what I long for. The big teddy bear is like a relationship companion. The little teddy bears are like children, you know, longing for that connection. I walk in on these teddy bears being without me. How can what I created have fun without me? It's that balance between Shyloh Grey and my birth name. It's us going back and forth about who's in control here. When I see those teddy bears by themselves, it felt like Shyloh was in control instead of us finding balance. So, Shauna, my birth name, got angry. That's what happens. You're constantly fighting with yourself. The knife is the idea that you want to harm yourself. It’s me saying I want to hurt myself because I don't know myself anymore. I don't love myself anymore. I'm angry with myself. Each of those teddy bears represents those emotions and are representations of me. I needed to play them out in my head and bring them to life as I would when I was in that dark place.

I understand. I saw your post on Instagram with you talking about how you use your music to tell your story: “I tell my story through my art because I know it'll inspire others to speak up on theirs.” There was a lot in that one post. I want to ask you, What is your story? What are you trying to tell us?

I am trying to tell people about going through this smiling depression. I'm somebody who always makes the best of every situation. I love to be happy. I love smiling. I love making people smile. I love making people feel good. But there's a lot of I love to do for others and not I love to do for myself. I want people to see how I reflect on my own life. A lot of my life has been doing for others and pleasing others. I neglected my emotions and my trauma and the things I needed to heal. I want people to be okay not being okay. Seek help if you're in a rough patch, if you're sad, or if you're overwhelmed with life, seek help and actually say what it is. When you acknowledge what it is and when you start telling people what you’re going through, you really do find a healing and relief because you don't feel like you're hiding yourself anymore. I want people to see that transition of me going from my birth name to the artist I am today. I want people to see how I juggle between the two personalities and it all comes from the area of trying to hide myself.

To what extent do you think you've experienced healing, and is the music an outlet for you to heal yourself or an outlet for others to heal themselves?

I don't mean to sound egotistical or self-centered, but this is about healing me because I still find it hard to talk sometimes. The music is really me healing myself and hoping that maybe there's somebody else out there that can't find words and they relate to the music’s metaphors that say exactly how they feel and their mindset. It's a healing process for both. When I started going to church, my pastor said something that stuck with me. How can I love on people if I'm not in love with myself?

That's very honest. I appreciate your honesty and your vulnerability. The music is more so for you but the sound is for us. So far we only have a debut single to work with so what can we expect from you musically? What's your style? 

I love that question. It’s one of my favorite questions because everybody always asks what kind of music do you? First off, I'm fully Black from Baltimore. I grew up singing classical music. I was in choirs. I have country twang to me so it's really funny because when you listen to my music, you're going to say it's hard to put my sound in a box because there’s this rock-ish, raspy tone along with an R&B tone. It's a merge of different genres, which I think is where music is actually going. I love to tell people that it’s soft pop and R&B. I really do like the melancholy vibe right now. You have to tell your pain before you can tell your joy. I'm going through my truth and letting that out so I am definitely a soft pop/R&B artist.

You give me Ruth B., Chrisette Michelle, and Adele vibes. Am I close?

I think you're the closest to describing my sound. I can't wait until the next single because it gets really rocky y’all and then the next EP gets really R&B.

Oooh. When is the next single coming?

That is coming very, very soon. I don't want to spoil it, but it's coming very, very soon so please stay tuned. For me, words have always been, as a shy person, hard for me to articulate what I'm saying. I feel like in my music, the metaphors and the words really mean something. I always ask people to not just soak in the beat but to listen to what I'm saying because you never know what you're going to take away from the words which may resonate with you. You might find healing in your life. I'm grateful for everybody who has been supporting me and for this interview. Look out for November because there is a story being told, and I hope that somebody can connect those dots.

Follow Shyloh Grey on Instagram @shylohgrey