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.
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.