With youth, an open-mind and fearlessness all on her side, 19-year-old Justine Skye is poised to be one to watch in 2015 — and beyond. Like many, Justine used social media as an outlet to showcase her talents. The popularity of her Tumblr page eventually landed her a deal with Atlantic Records at the budding age of 16.
The self-proclaimed “Purple Unicorn” spoke to us about her new EP Emotionally Unavailable, her recently wrapped “Bandit” mini-tour, and why the music industry is the wrong place to look for friends.
The name of your upcoming EP is named Emotionally Unavailable. That seems to be a pretty bold title from someone so young— why name it that?
My friend actually came up with the name, just talking to me. And then I thought it would be a great title for my EP because it’s like a combination of songs and feelings I felt after I got done with a relationship.
It’s also like a contradiction, because to say something like you’re “emotionally unavailable” you have to be emotional, and I feel like that’s what a lot of us are going through. So that’s really where it came from.
Why do you refer to yourself as the “Purple Unicorn?”
Well, my hair is purple for one, and one day I was recording in the studio and someone was like, “Yo, this sounds so magical…Yo, you’re like a unicorn.” From that day on, I just decided to call myself a unicorn because they’re like so rare and unique and you know they’re strong, beautiful, and very powerful.
That’s why I like to call myself the “unicorn” and I call my fans “unicorns” as well, because we’re like the unicorn nation. We’re a family and we’re starting a new movement of rare beings.
You’re part of a brand new R&B wave alongside Tinashe, Jhene Aiko, Teyana Taylor…the list goes on. Do you think this is a special time in R&B?
I think it’s a very, very, yeah, very, very special time, especially because there wasn’t a lot of R&B artists, and now there’s like a whole new generation of R&B, and I feel it’s like enhancing. We’re still finding our way in it to make it, but I think we’re doing a pretty great job.
You’re from Brooklyn. What part of Brooklyn are you from originally?
Well, my family is from Flatbush, but I grew up in Fort Greene-Clinton Hill area.
How has gentrification affected the creativity of artists coming from that area, or coming from New York in general?
New York has definitely turned into more of like a hipster place. It used to be really hardcore and stuff but now it’s really hipster and chill, and everyone is all about the vibes and the aura of everything right now. I think that’s a good thing because there’s a lot of diversity and I feel like it made music more conscious. But I feel like I’m not so much of a conscious artist. I try to reach every aspect, but I’m all about having fun.
Is this Bandit tour your first solo tour?
Yes, it absolutely is. It’s a mini tour, so it’s giving me a good start. In September I’m going on a bigger tour and I’m really excited for that. So this is “the test.”
Did you have any misconceptions when you first got into the music industry?
I thought that the music industry was going to be pretty easy —getting features and stuff— and everyone was going to be nice. But I realized that it’s really, really hard to get features. You’ve got to have lots and lots of money and not everyone is nice and not everyone is your friend and they’re not looking out for the best for you. It’s a “dog eat dog” world.
But there are some good people out there, and I’ve made some really great friends who are artists and who are in the building, behind the scenes. When you find out who your true friends are, it just makes the experience even more exciting.
If you could go back and grab anybody, of all time, and go on tour with them, who would it be?
Aaliyah, absolutely. I think that would be the most epic situation that the world has ever seen— that the universe has ever seen!
Justine Skye’s EP Emotionally Unavailable is slated for release on June 23rd.