Up Next with MEYY

The Belgian-Korean rising sensation opens up about the music world, moving to London and her latest EP for Re-Edition’s music column

Looking for the soundtrack for your next adventure? Be wary of the algorithm and let yourself be guided by the entrancing vibrations of Up Next – Re-Edition’s long-awaited music column – where arts and culture writer Gilda Bruno sits down with some of the most inspiring names on the up-and-coming and established music scene to delve into the inspirations, sounds and dreams of a new avant-garde of musical talents.

Today Bruno speaks with Belgian-born emerging artist MEYY to tap into the influences catalysing her absorbing alt-pop soundscapes and gather insights into her upcoming projects.

Born and bred in a rural village of Belgium, fast-rising creative force MEYY grew up knowing that “good things in life don’t just happen to you”, as she tells Re-Edition over an extensive Zoom call, but instead require the right dose of dedication. Speaking from her room in London, where she relocated at the height of the COVID pandemic, the emerging artist is as eloquent in her answers as her sonic production is powerfully immersive.

For MEYY, making music is more than just an aspiration. It is an urge that stems directly from her necessity to harness the intense emotional turmoil inhabiting her and pouring into the sensual images brought to life by her lyricism. Since the release of her debut EP Spectrum (Sanseveria, 2020), she continually strived to refine her craft, relying on the mesmeric sounds of alt-pop and R&B to propel listeners into a metaverse-inspired world of her own.

Already boasting collaborations with internationally acclaimed artists of the likes of Lolo Zouaï, Angèle and Oscar And The Wolf among others, the 22-year-old Belgian-Korean talent seems to be destined for a great future. We speak to her about the process behind her songs, how her music combines her small-town upbringing and her current experience of London, and the making of her newest EP, Digital Gloss.

Photo by Michael Smits. Courtesy of the artist
Photo by Michael Smits. Courtesy of the artist

Re-Edition Magazine: You are a Belgian-Korean civil engineering student by day and an alt-pop star by night. When exactly, and how, did music come into the frame for you, and what led you to it?

MEYY: Even as a kid, I would just sing the whole time. When people asked me what I wanted to do later, I would be like, “I want to be a pop star”, but I lived in a Belgian village in the middle of nowhere. I never saw music as something I could turn into a profession until I moved to London a year and a half ago. For most of my life, school and ballet filled my days. In my teens, I went to music school and started playing the guitar and writing my own songs. The first song I ever wrote was for my grandparents’ anniversary when I was 11. As I got older, I would write songs about my crushes or what was going on in my head. At 15, I got picked up by a music label in Belgium and began working on my first productions. Even after releasing my debut EP, music was still just a side thing for me. It was only during COVID-19 that things changed: I signed with a label based in London and was invited to do some studio sessions in the city over the summer, so I came here and basically never left since. Moving to London granted me the time and space necessary to focus on my music. It felt refreshing and really fuelled my creativity. Thanks to my management and label, I felt guided enough to take up music for real and full-time.

RE: Think of the way your music has evolved since you first started playing around with it, and even more so since the release of Angelic Lies (2019), your first single. You have often talked about how a very specific, often 3D digital art-inspired “visual aesthetic” serves as the starting point for your ethereal tracks. Is that still the case? What drives your musical experimentation today and what is the vision behind it?

M: From a writing perspective, nothing has changed. Most of my songs, their words and melodies, are still a reworking of my feelings; they are serenades for a specific person. Since moving to London, I have however started to believe in myself as an artist a lot more, finally reaching the stage where I can be proud of what I have achieved. Romantically speaking, in terms of love – which is the epicentre of my life – and the relationship I have with myself and others, the past two years felt very much like fighting. It wasn’t easy, and that comes through in my latest songs. Most of my work has a really intense, almost cinematic feel to it. I also draw inspiration from my surroundings: ultimately, my music is a product of the environment I am part of and the people I work with. Digital Gloss, my newest EP, is executive produced by Pippin, a Belgian friend of mine I have now collaborated with for four or five years. I constantly look up to all the creatives I get to work with.

I have recently started dancing again and I have enjoyed looking at ballet from a more mature perspective. Growing up, I remember being scared of my teacher and how I could get told off in front of my mates. While it can be a very strict discipline, going back to it without experiencing that anxiety was reinvigorating. I love how every single detail of ballet is curated to be beautiful, from the set design to the dancers’ movements, hairstyles and costumes. That is exactly what I gravitate towards in my craft, which is rooted in my personal experience of beauty. The Weeknd, James Blake, Rosalia, Ariana Grande, FKA Twigs and, more recently, Oklou are just a few of the names I admire and listen to. I have always been drawn to music that speaks to the senses in a sensual, imaginative way: that remains a crucial aspect of my journey as an artist, something I will explore even further in the future.

RE: You have just supported French-born American R&B artist Lolo Zouaï and returned from a European tour with fellow Belgian acts Angèle and Oscar And The Wolf. As a rising talent making her way into an hyper competitive industry, what are these collaborations teaching you about the reality of the music world?

M: Becoming successful doesn’t really change much. If anything, it is probably quite draining. Rather than finding that sad, it is uplifting because to me, everything I ever wanted is already here: I make music and work on my craft every day. I am living my dream, so everything that happens on top of that speaks to my ambition and perfectionism. I used to think rising to fame had something mystic to it, as if, all of the sudden, you lived in this Disney Channel movie. What I am learning now is that making music really is just a job. What keeps me grounded is looking at it like I look at school and my other interests. What drives me is knowing that before being anyone else’s, my music is mine. It is a part of me, a portrayal of how I feel. People always say that in order to be successful, you need to lose yourself, as that is the only way to cope with such huge crowds. While I care about becoming “big”, I am also mindful of preserving my authenticity.

Photo by Nils Johannesson. Courtesy of the artist
Photo by Nils Johannesson. Courtesy of the artist

RE: How do you go about maintaining your Belgian-Korean roots against your London experience?

M: I was raised knowing that, whatever I would choose to do, I had to work hard for it. Since moving to London, I have tried to look at its fast-paced environment as part of the job. London allowed me to meet loads of interesting people who inspire me daily. Because I am not big into going out, when I am not working, I enjoy carving space for some moments of calm. London is pure capitalism and for me, it is important to think of music in deeper terms than profit. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else and, while London can drive you mad, I have still got both feet on the ground. I can jump and be up in the air for a bit, but I know I gotta stay focused. I am very much aware of how my body comes from my ancestors. Even though my mum was adopted and didn’t have an affinity with Korean culture, it runs through my DNA. Last year, my mum finally got in contact with her birth mother, so we went to Korea for the first time and met the rest of her family. From now on, I want to go to Korea as much as I can – not just for my family ties, but for its art and music scenes as well as life in general, which all really appeal to me.

RE: Launched March 15, QT, the first single from your upcoming EP, Digital Gloss (out April 19), is a mesmeric collaboration with otherworldly Welsh singer-songwriter TWST, with production by coveted producer Caro ♡. How would you describe QT in three words? What was it like to collaborate with TWST and Caro ♡?

M: QT is fun, bright and energising, and obviously cute, but that is in the title. Caro ♡ is amazing, she is a brilliant producer and has her own personal project as well. Working with her unlocked my desire to make fun pop music, something I had never considered doing before because I was too insecure to embrace it. Putting QT together was so much fun and it is great to release stuff that energises and uplifts people. Right after writing it two years ago, I realised I wanted someone to feature on it. I had discovered TWST a couple of months before then and when we first connected, it instantly felt right. We both agreed that our worlds were very mergeable. Our first studio session was in Caro ♡’s bedroom: we spent the whole afternoon talking about boys and love, making the song, sipping tea and smoking vapes.

RE: Set to release on April 12, Digital Gloss is still covered in mystery. What can we expect from this new project?

M: Digital Gloss is the first EP to take shape from my London experience. Except for one track, which I co-wrote with someone else, I wrote all of the songs myself like I used to when I was sixteen: they were all written with one person in mind. Though I am rarely impressed with something, I am very proud of this EP. I admire and take inspiration from a lot of people, but not many things actually impress me. I am enthusiastic about all those who worked on Digital Glossalongside me. Compared to my previous projects, it feels more intense and in depth, and that is definitely a consequence of me having dived deep into my craft more than ever before. The title of the EP comes from a moment I shared with one of my collaborators, who at some point said to me, “we are going to ‘gloss’ your vocals with autotune”: I thought it sounded so beautiful and perfectly captured what this new project feels like.

RE: In recent years, more and more music artists have lent their talent to other creative realms. Whether music, fashion, cinema or art-related, what would be your dream collaboration?

M: Doing something with the Formula 1’s Mercedes team would be the ultimate dream. I love the arts, but I also feel that with writing songs and dance I am doing everything that is really true to me in terms of self-expression. If I had any more time, I would probably venture back into civil engineering, just because I feel that could be quite useful to the world right now. I am very passionate about science and where that is taking us today, so if I had to invest my time into something else, that would probably be my first choice.

RE: What are your New Year’s resolutions for 2023? What can we expect from you in the future?

M: I always say the same thing: eternal growth and peace of mind. I just wish to grow forever and sustain whatever is happening to me right now for as long as I can. For eternity, even.


MEYY’s new EP, Digital Gloss, is out April 19

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