Justine Skye Discusses Changing R&B, Self-Confidence and Jay Z’s Support, Performs ‘Collide’ for ‘Next Up’ [EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW + VIDEO]
Last time Justine Skye looked in the mirror, she didn’t have a spiraling horn protruding from her head nor white hair cascading down her back, but if you ask her, the singer is a unicorn – a purple one to be exact due to her lavender-colored hair. That might sound crazy to some but she’s not insane in the membrane by any means; Justine is just trotting off the beaten path trying to share her magic with the world.
“I believe I'm a unicorn. Unicorns are very magical and powerful and strong,” she tells The Boombox. “They have healing powers [and are] very positive creatures. People think unicorns are very childish, but they're very majestic. I feel like my Unicorn Nation, my army, they're inspired and they feel comfortable and safe. They just want to build their strength with me. It's like a journey that we're all in together, from the beginning to the end.”
The Unicorn Nation, the name she dubs her legion of supporters, is following Justine’s current journey through the music industry, experiencing every twist, turn and triumph she shares on social media. That’s where the 19-year-old Brooklyn, N.Y. native has succeeded in cultivating a loyal fan base. From Tumblr (where she has over 1.8 million page views) to Twitter (her followers are climbing past 84,000) to Instagram (more than 296,000 people are creeping through photos), Justine’s presence is felt through an endless amount of notes, RTs and likes.
At 16, she embraced the Tumblr world as a way to showcase her around-the-way girl persona – from Fort Greene specifically – early demos covering songs from artists like Drake and everyday living with her creative crew.
“I'm not just a pretty face, I want to pursue something. I surrounded myself with a lot of different creative people and ambitious people. We'd always be out in the city, networking and meeting other kids who just wanted to create and do photo shoots or videos," the self-described “indecisive” individual states. "Other kids who are in Idaho or Wyoming, or other middle-America places where they don't get to be in New York City or L.A., those people have Tumblrs and they saw us and we were the New York Tumblr kids. I incorporated my talent with that. It's a great way for me to let everyone know that this is what I do.”
Aside from her model good looks – the #NextUp artist has a smile perfect for a Crest commercial – Justine’s singing skills are now taking center stage. Four years ago, at a BMI panel she stopped being a “fly on the wall” and flexed her vocal prowess in a room full of industry bigwigs by singing Sam Sparro’s "Black and Gold," her go-to song. Then the magic happened when the labels began calling. Backed by her momager, entertainment attorney Nova Perry, Justine landed a major label record deal with Atlantic in 2013.
She dropped the ‘Everyday Living’ EP that same year, and her first official single, the DJ-Mustard produced "Collide" featuring Tyga, soon followed in 2014. Her silky tone and put-it-on-me lyrics are highlighted on the track; this is no little girl subject matter.
“I'm confident in who I am and I'm not doing anything wrong. I'm just being myself. Being comfortable with my body, comfortable with my sound and I'm figuring out who I am. I'm growing up,” affirms Justine, who cites Aaliyah, Beyonce, Janet Jackson and Kanye West as influences.
This young woman’s goal is to change music by creating her own sound of R&B. She aims to work with the likes of Missy Elliott and Timbaland (because they collaborated with Aaliyah, of course) and Drake ranks high on her wishlist of dream studio sessions. Justine is already well on her way to crafting a unique lane with her “brothers” the Phony Ppl, a funky Brooklyn band serving as the soundscape for her distinctly sweet voice.
2015 is just unfolding and she’s already received a morale boost from one of hip-hop’s finest MCs. In January, Justine was selected to sing the National Anthem at Roc Nation Sports’ first boxing card event. “The most exciting part about it, Jay Z really stood up and clapped for me. I heard him. I physically saw him. This is crazy, now I really have to be on my stuff. I really gotta show out now.”
Like Jay Z before her, Justine wants that career-defining seat on the music industry throne. "I'm trying to make history," she explains. "I want to be a legend." Speaking it into existence is the first step.
Watch above as Justine Skye shares stories of her rise to stardom, her goals to change R&B and performs "Collide" in addition to "Hard Work" for The Boombox's #NextUp series presented by McDonald's below.
Watch Justine Skye Perform "Collide" for The Boombox's #NextUp Series
See Photos of Justine Skye's Performance for The Boombox's #NextUp Series