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Artists of Color: Shy Lennox Is Unforgettable

When I first heard Shy Lennox’s rich, soulful voice sing a simple melody, he somehow made a crowded hallway seem magical. I instantly knew that the crammed high school wasn’t enough for a magic like his. And I never forgot.

The now LA-based artist already has a healthy amount of singles under their belt, each magical in their own right. To get a taste of this magic, check out their single “Afterblunts.” Shy recently took to their social media to tease a new creative direction. Their new EP, wish u best, is set to come out this summer, and I have no doubt it’s going to go amaze everyone who listens.

I interviewed Shy to get a better understanding of his magic and this new direction. Shy’s pronouns are he/they.

Shy in the sky. (Photo by Azazel)

Your voice leaves a lasting impression. I think I first heard it freshman year of high school. I immediately knew you were talented. When did you know? How did you get into singing?

Thank you! Since I was a child, I always enjoyed singing and making noise. I joined choir in middle school, and my teacher made me sing a solo. I was so nervous, but people started clapping afterwards, so I was like, “Okay. I can do this for real. Let me take it more seriously.”

Your lyrics dance with themes of love, drugs, sexuality, and overall sensuality. How do you manage to capture such complexities through audio?

Most of my songs are written from experience: my own personal experiences and the experiences of my homies and family. I really try to source unique beats that don’t sound like other artists. Then I just sing how I feel and how I want listeners to feel.

What’s your creative process? How has COVID affected this?

My creative process varies. I wish it was simple enough to be the same every time. Sometimes I arrange the songs on sheet music and other times I just freestyle to beats. The COVID-19 pandemic has given me time to get better musically and organize what exactly I want to deliver as an artist.

Shy in song. (Photo by Cuhlours)

You moved from Richmond, Virginia to LA. These are both artsy cities, but LA is known for its art. What new forms of art have you encountered or experimented with?

I started playing bass when I moved to LA. I’ve also been working and collaborating with some really fire LA producers.

You took advantage of the quiet and still quarantine to take a road trip from VA to Cali. How did that spark your creativity, if at all?

It was such a scenic drive. Driving almost 3,000 miles changes you, lowkey. It made me more calm and observant.

In songs like “Monarch,” the lyrics are powerful and strong, but in other songs like “Soccer Man,” they’re tender and even a bit vulnerable. Unfortunately, not enough Black men feel comfortable showing the more sensitive side of their masculinity, even in music. How do you show both sides of masculinity? What role, if at all, does your sexuality play in this?

I just try to stay true to myself despite how people expect or want me to be.

Shy at Pride. (Photo by Will Singleton)

Your voice also shifts easily from strong to delicate. You’re tall, Black, and have a fully shaved head. Back when performing was possible, did you ever find yourself using your physical appearance to accent your vocal appearance?

Not really so much in the past…I didn’t really have the time [because I was] trying to balance doing well in college and looking good. But now I’m experimenting more with my looks and aesthetic.

You teased that your music is taking a new direction. How do you describe this direction? What inspired it?

Hmm, good question. The new direction is up and over! It’s just really showcasing my abilities as an overall artist rather than just a singer. I had an epiphany when I was meditating one day, and that was really what inspired it.

Shy in fuchsia. (Photo by Lucienne Nghiem)

In “Afterblunts,” you sing, “I wake up and ask God, do I deserve this? And he says I do.” That was four years ago, and people grow. What do you deserve now? What do you strive to deserve?

I deserve love. I deserve peace. I deserve compassion. I deserve the world. I strive for growth and humility, always.

Shy’s new EP, wish u best, comes out this summer. We’ll be sure to let you know when!

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