Words: Niloufar Haidari
Photography: Yis Kid
Photographer’s Assistant: Renate Ariadne
Styling: Dariusz Kowalski
Stylist's Assistant: Anna Heronimek
Hair & Make-Up: Luz Giraldo
Shygirl is setting up her new voice-activated speaker in her east London room as we speak before Crack Magazine’s photoshoot. “I love it, I wanna be in The Matrix,” she exclaims. The wish is an apt one for the underground artist – real name Blane Muise – whose music is a disorientating and futuristic mash-up of garage, grime, and general “club vibes”.
As one quarter of NUXXE, the London-based collective made up of Coucou Chloe, Oklou, Sega Bodega and Shygirl herself, the group’s icy, cybernetic club tracks and aesthetics wouldn’t feel out of place in the world The Matrix is based in. Although they have become known for all-black looks, Muise at least is in no way averse to colour. Her hair is dyed a bright orange, and on set today she wears a hot pink matching Adidas tracksuit with poppers down the trouser sides, teamed with patent heels and a host of pearl accessories. “I wear loads of colour in the summer,” she muses. “In the winter I tend to just be in black, but it's seasonal.”
Shygirl’s first EP, Cruel Practice, came out earlier this year. Coming in at just under 13 minutes of gurning, anxious beats with Shygirl’s deadpan but assertive vocals over the top, the EP opens with the chilling synth-strings of Rude – a warped version of the infamous score to the Psycho shower scene. Closing track Asher Wolfe is darkly euphoric; Burial’s Rival Dealer but for the PDA crowd.
Muise describes her own sound as “a culmination of all these club sounds I used to listen to before I could even get to the club”. For this EP, however, she says she was influenced hugely by grime artists and UK drill, specifically in terms of the sparse, London-centric lyricism. “When I was finishing the EP I was listening to a lot of Loski, 1011 and (Zone 2). I like the playfulness of slang – being able to produce a sentence and make it really flowery and also being able to do the opposite.” Lyrics like ‘One round with me/ You'll fully slew/ Oh, got pussy on lock/ Out here tellin’ bare man/ Wots wot’ on track O display her hard, confident, London-bred brand of sexuality at its best.
Tracksuit: adidas Originals
(Exclusively available at
Bread&&Butter by Zalando)
Earrings: Aleksandra Seweryniak
Shoes: Hugo Boss
Necklace: Aleksandra Seweryniak
Earrings & Rings: Harumi Hatta
Coat: 2nd Day
The Shygirl persona is a place where Muise can take herself to the next level; not so much an alter ego, but an extension of her personality where she can say whatever she wants to say with no repercussions. Her lyrics come from personal experience; they’re a cathartic, exaggerated release of feelings she’s had and situations she’s been in. “Most of that EP is about a couple of boys I was dating. I was like ‘OK, if I'd been that ‘crazy’ person in that moment, how would I have spoken?’ I never let that emotion out, and I chose a different route because I'm a rational human being, but if I wasn't, this is what I would say.”
She uses Asher Wolfe as an example. “In the song I'm talking as if I have total control of this person and they’re lost to me, but actually I was that person. It's something I never got to experience IRL, so I wanted to build that world for myself.”
This idea also bleeds into Shygirl’s sense of style. Although there are aspects of her in Muise’s everyday life, Shygirl is very much a character with an aesthetic that is made to match. More than anything, Muise dresses for comfort, but not in a joggers-and-slippers kind of way. “That is part of the culture of going out on a Friday and not coming back until Sunday. That's the basis of a lot of my clothing choices,” she laughs.
While performing, she has become known for her use of hand-held fans and ever-changing wigs, something she says is “very much part of the Shygirl project. I always have a hand-held fan with me. I wear wigs, I wear hair pieces, I'm in clubs, it's hot! All the fabrics that I wear, or showing a lot of skin, it's very much based around not being hot.” Essentially, Shygirl is a true club kid, in the sense that both her music and aesthetic are products of that most hallowed and beloved of spaces: the club. In other words, “being practical but making it look good, you know?”
Shygirl appears at Crack Magazine’s party at Bread&&Butter, Berlin, 31 August
Pants: The Ragged Priest
Rings: Harumi Hatta
Sneakers: Reebok Aztrek (Available
at Bread&&Butter by Zalando)