Ahead of her new mixtape, ‘Sunsetters / Daybreakers’, we talk to London polymath TYSON about collaboration, executing versatility and how to come into your own.
Music comes naturally to TYSON. “Honestly, it was the last thing I wanted to do” she writes over email, but with Swedish singer Neneh Cherry and Massive Attack producer Cameron McVey as parents, dismissing the profession wouldn’t be easy. And besides, she was good at it. Since the singer released her debut project, ‘Moonlight Mixtape,’ she’s earned her stripes by showing off a chameleonic approach to songwriting. Innovative sound curators like Lord Tusk and Leon Vynehall are noted collaborators, as are celestial voices like Delilah Holiday and Coby Sey.
Dropping at the end of this month, ‘Sunsetters / Daybreakers’ features an array of TYSON’s talented friends. But it’s in the project’s more experimental aspects where the artist really comes into her own. Standout track “Promises”, thanks to its brooding dancefloor rhythms and mechanical trap drums, sounds like a car shifting through gears on an open road, while she croons with an RnB finesse. Soundtracking introspective moments, the project is poetic in nature but encapsulates the gritty reality life beholds.
Fresh from the fields of Glastonbury, TYSON is already plotting her next move. New music, I’m told, is in the works, but first, we have this mixtape to take in. “I like that this one steps into electronic and more dancey production styles” she mentions with a keen enthusiasm for the club. Input from Joy Orbison, Molinaro and Earbuds eases the eight tracks into this realm while TYSON’s mesmerising vocals create a desired intimacy for such an encapsulating listen.
Releasing on July 28, ‘Sunsetters / Daybreakers’ will unquestionably push TYSON into new territory, but first, we speak with the Sudan Archives-approved artist about collaboration, executing versatility and how to come into your own. Tap in below.
Congratulations on the release of ‘Sunsetters / Daybreakers’, it’s a great follow-up to ‘Pisces Problems’. How would you say the creative processes differed when making them?
‘Pisces Problems’ was very much a capsule in time, with a clear thread and all made with one producer, Oscar Scheller. Before my first, EP I released another mixtape called Moonlight which I would say is more similar to this, creatively at least! I feel like a tape allows you the freedom to collect music without the need for that capsule. I feel more free to experiment across genres and moods, and there’s less need for perfection. Tapes are definitely more for me.
The tape features James Messiah, Coby Sey, Albertina and Delilah Holiday. With so many talented friends, how do you go about selecting the right people to collaborate with?
I don’t know if it’s about selecting at all! It’s always an organic process and the collaborations come together naturally. ‘Sunsetters / Daybreakers’ is essentially a collection of collaborations made since 2019. It’s been a long time coming!
What would you like listeners to take away from the mixtape?
Hopefully, it shows some of my versatility as an artist. Vulnerability, but also some toughness and strength. I want to continue making different types of projects. I like that this one steps into electronic and more dancey production styles than my other projects, but I want to jump back into RnB, or whatever it is I normally do, too. I hope listeners are starting to get a feel for where I’m heading, and how I’m forming myself as an artist. I hope it feels like we’re starting to get to know each other.
Being part of such a musical family, did you take quickly to the family trade, or have other ambitions when growing up?
Honestly, it was the last thing I wanted to do, but I quickly realised I’m not that good at anything else. And more importantly, I don’t love anything else like I love singing. As a kid, I wanted to be a waitress and ended up doing that part-time for 15+ years, but I wasn’t great I won’t lie. I was always good with customers, but a massive space cadet and made dreadful mistakes every day.
Having walked runways and soundtracked Stella McCartney’s SS23 show, you’re someone who embodies the growing intersection between fashion and music. Is fashion something you’d like to get more involved with and what was the inspiration behind the soundtrack?
I would love to do more runway, and fashion stuff in general. I love how fashion and music inform each other and I really want to keep exploring that relationship. The inspiration for the Stella McCartney soundtrack came from matching the mood of tracks she likes to dance to with artists I’d love to showcase when given a platform that big. I thought it came together really well!
You were at Glastonbury this year with Ladies Music Pub, performing across various parts of the festival. What did you learn, either about yourself or others, over the weekend?
I learnt how to pace myself. I really didn’t think that was something I’d ever be capable of! Also, through the LMP panels with VFDalston and several other organisations, I learnt how much work is already taking place at Glasto, and how much more we need to do. I feel like our future there is, potentially, very exciting.
Did you have any highlight moments? Whether that be an act that you saw, a secret area you found or even a food truck that was particularly tasty?
I wish I found more good food! At one point I was like, if I see the words ‘loaded fries’ one more time I might cry. A friend told me about an amazing jerk place but I didn’t make it. My highlights have to be Ezra Collective at West Holts, they parted the crowd and jumped in to play down the middle. Their energy is unmatched!
My nephew and cousins DJing at Guerilla Bar on Saturday night was another highlight. I felt very moved to see so many friends and family playing over that weekend. I feel immense pride watching what is coming out of London right now in general. An honourable mention goes out to Sudan Archives, she’s not from London but one of us!
Since starting Ladies Music Pub, have you noticed record labels and music companies pushing harder for gender diversity? Or is there still a long way to go before parity’s achieved?
Both I think. Gender politics have really shifted since we started in 2015, I think slowly that’s starting to make things better. I can see a lot of positive change in that time, but as Nellie (one of the core LMP team), says, “We’ll know the work is done when we’re not needed anymore”, and we’re very much still needed. I might sound like a pessimist, but personally, I think a lot of larger organisations/companies/labels are still too performative. In my gut I’m like, no they’re only changing because they can’t get away with shit anymore out of fear of being cancelled, not because they actually care. So I think we’ve got a lot left to do. But maybe I should be less cynical.
What’s next for TYSON, beyond this mixtape? Have you got any plans to play shows over the summer?
I’ve got lots of exciting things coming up! I won’t be playing live any more this summer. I’m focusing on releasing and making new music for now, which feels really exciting. As I said earlier, this tape has been a long time coming, and I can’t wait to share it! It feels like a massively overdue baby.