Words: Paul Stimpson / Photography: Charlotte Rutherford

We sit down with up-and-coming Sheff artist TYNI to discuss mental health and finding old school magic in modern pop…

Hi TYNI! How are you and where do we find you at the moment?
I’m so great right now! I’ve been working on visuals for my project. I’ve been hibernating, making music, listening to bands, working on my ever-changing self, you know how it is!

We do! What have you been up to the last few months?
I recently had the privilege of recording a live set at Abbey Road which was one of the proudest moments in my career. I’m extremely lucky as an artist to have been blessed with so many wonderful moments. I grew up listening to The Beatles, so performing a live session at Abbey Road was a massive deal for me. They have a very special place in my history and always will do.

From listening to ‘Fighter’ and ‘Good Luck’, we reckon you could be the next big pop star from Sheff. How would you describe yourself for the uninitiated?
That’s so sweet of you! Thank you! I occupy a place of my own. I’m inspired by so many different elements of pop music. I love the 80s. Cyndi Lauper, David Bowie, Lene Lovich, Peter Gabriel. I’m fascinated by personalities – there are so many dimensions of performance to explore and I’ve always been drawn to certain artists in particular who represent that. I’m an exhibitionist, I live my life through performance and I’m forever evolving – change is so important! It keeps everyone and everything on its feet.

Last year, ‘Fighter’ was the official anthem of Help Musicians UK’s Music Minds Matter helpline. How important is it for musicians to talk about their mental health?
It’s extremely important to speak out no matter who you are – musician or not it affects us all at some point. Sometimes the worst place you can be is inside your own head and that’s why it is so difficult. We as a whole need to gain a better understanding of what mental health is and how we can manage it and work together. Help Musicians UK is such a wonderful charity and I’m incredibly honoured to be part of it.

You’ve spoken candidly about having your own ups and downs, what does music mean to you and more specifically, that song [‘Fighter’]?
Music is just another level for me. Music is my outlet, the only way of expressing myself truly. I’m not a sad person but I can cry like a bitch. I’m not even sure I’m that normal anymore and I’m not even sure I want to be!
‘Fighter’ was one of the darker tracks I had been involved in. As an artist, it wasn’t my usual way of writing or even my usual style but it felt right. It’s quite haunting actually – it still sends a shiver up my spine when I hear the first few vocals on the track. I wanted to create this feel that would have the hairs standing up on the back of your neck, that old school magic is the only thing I look for when writing music!

Did you take your songwriting inspiration from personal experiences? Or is it a fictional scenario?
Nothing’s entirely fictional, what’s one person’s reality will not necessarily be another’s. Music for me is a personal experience, when you listen to my music it’s an invitation to my world and it’s your choice if you want to stay there with me. I draw inspiration from artists who live life through an alter ego or some kind of extension to their personality. There are only so many times you can sing an emotion, especially if it’s raw at that particular time. Emotions are temporary, but they can also last a lifetime.

I hear the likes of Madonna and Charli XCX in your music.
Wow, thanks! You aren’t the first person to say that though, I love early Madonna! ‘Like A Prayer’ is one of my top three all-time favourite songs. It’s funny you mention Charli XCX she’s incredible! We got talking a few months back and eventually wrote a couple of tracks together which was cool.

You’ve worked with songwriters behind some of the world’s biggest stars. How was that as an experience for you?
I’m extremely grateful for the opportunities I’ve has throughout my life. I’ve been writing music, working in studios and flying between London and Los Angeles since I was 16-years-old. I’ve worked with some incredible people and made some wonderful friends. I’ve known MNEK since being 14-years-old and he’s one of the most talented producer/songwriters I’ve had the pleasure of working with. I’ve also worked with Cathy Dennis who is just the sweetest lady.

Do you have any new music lined up for us this year?
I have lots of festivals coming up this summer; I’m always gigging around Sheffield you should come and check out one of my sets! I’m working on a new format for my show currently, which is pretty exciting. You’ll be able to catch me at Tramlines Festival this year again! So I’ll see you there?

We’re there. Anything else planned for the summer?
I’m working on my music of course, and I wanna make a video! I have so much creativity in me right now so I’m probably going to lock myself away for a few months and focus on my art. I usually spend a lifetime working on a visual idea because that aspect of performance is the most crucial for me. I have so much stuff I haven’t had the chance to show you guys! But I’m ready to take over the world- that is the plan after all!

Stay tuned for TYNI’s in session for Exposed but in the meantime, head over to facebook.com/I.AM.TYNI.

In association with https://www.sivtickets.com, the local box office.

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