Last week, we spoke with Shay Pastel, an upcoming artist out of the DMV! This Friday, she is coming with a new video with Odd Mojo inspired by the movie "Pulp Fiction". We spoke about her upcoming, her inspirations, and plenty more. Check out the interview on our IGTV / Youtube (above) or read it all below!
First things first, what do you do? Who are you for those who would like to know?
I'm Shay Pastel. I am a musician from DMV. A rapper, I'm more so getting into singing now, but yes, that's pretty much what I do. I've got two EPs out on Spotify and SoundCloud under Luna because I just recently changed my name to Shay, which is my name. Just here to make music for the girls or anyone who needs it to feed the soul and I hope you like it.
What pushed you to get back to your name?
For one, there are a lot of Luna's in the world. When you're trying to distribute music, that makes it a little harder. For two, I think I just wanted something that was more me. I guess at the time doing it served me cause it was kind of about being a woman on the moon and just seeing yourself from a different perspective dimensionally. But Shay Pastel is about getting back to me as an artist. I felt like under Luna, I was kind of worried about making money more and just trying to make it off of music. And then I think the name change, besides wanting something that felt more me, was also on a music level getting back to me.
That's important too. Especially as an upcoming artist and you have to decipher the people who want to do it for money and people who want to do it because they're passionate and I've always seen it in you. So you're born and raised in DMV. Being from the DMV, how has that influenced your creativity?
In a lot of ways. First off growing up, I know it's changing now more so growing up and in PG, which is a majority-black area, with diversity and the blackness that you see out here. So it was really inspiring in my art cause you're meeting so many new people from all over the place and meeting people from Ethiopia, Nigeria, to the Carolinas and see people that are always born and raised here and there's a beautiful culture. That was really cool to grow up in with Gogo and everything. And then being in the scene itself is pretty inspiring because everyone's young and black and gifted and doing stuff for themselves. And I think that really inspired me to do it because everyone here is self-reliant. Whatever people want here, they'll pretty much do for themselves, which I appreciate.
Right, it motivates you. I think I've learned a little bit about your dad when we interviewed you at the radio station. Your dad is a musician as well and you basically were raised around music in other words as well.
Yeah, he met my mom DJing actually. He wasn't going to go DJ that night, but thank God he did. It was at a club here called Classics in Camp Spring, which is right outside of D.C. I think even the origin of them getting together is musical in a way. So that's cool. We always had a basement in our house. He was more like instrumentalists, like keyboard, DJ, producer. He always had a cool outlet for me and my sister to do stuff, which is dope. Cause that really started giving the drive.
For both of you?
Exactly. She started first. She's the one that made me freestyle. When I was four, barely looking over the dashboard. I started young because of my sister. She's always wanting to have a little sister to fuck with for real. She just made me do shit. And I'd be like, "I was at recess. I drank my huggy". It started out with stupid shit and then the older I got the more material.
Right. I know you've worked with your sister in music, but have you worked with your dad in music?
Oh yeah. He's on the first EP I made on the drop last year, the Femme EP. He's on "Pink". And he produced that song and then he produced "Freelance" and another song that dropped last year and he always sends me stuff. I'm always probably working on a beat my dad sent me on because he's been doing that a lot since he retired. He's still working. We're always working here.
So how has the quarantine been?
Oh girl, what the fuck is going on? That's the one that I ever heard the fuck is going on. I don't know. Every day is different because outside doesn't feel the same anymore. Nothing feels the same anymore. Just try to roll with the punches. If you get too caught up in it and you kind of lose your shit, which I kind of have sometimes. I feel like we all have, to an extent, lost our shit. Like no human being is used to this. So, be easy on yourself. Take it day by day, trying to continue creating and stuff because it is easier, you know? And then there was a period where I wasn't working. I wasn't at the job I have now, but like pretty much March through July, I didn't. So that's when I bought equipment and did start creating more. So that was the plus side. When it first started, you're 'fuck it' and start pumping music out. It is still a day by day thing. Even with all the shit, you have in your house, you still might lose a marble.
I guess it was the habit of transitioning into a different lifestyle and now it's like, I fuck with it. Know what I mean?
I feel that. Honestly to an extent, it is cool to feel the shifts of everything. If there is a bright side of this, it is the shift that's going on right now. I don't think things are going to be the same. I mean, not literally in a snap of a finger, but over the chain of some years, which is dope, and having the flexibility of doing more remote stuff is cool as well. So there are definitely some upsides of this shit.
And you also started a fundraiser for your video. Now we can obviously talk about the video. When is it coming out?
It's coming out this Friday if I'm not mistaken. We raised like 1500 or something for it on GoFundMe. Thank you to everyone if anyone's watching that donated. A lot of people I know actually donated, which was dope but yeah, we recorded it end of July and it was really cool. It's the biggest video I've ever done. The biggest video Mojo's ever done too. We had a whole crew and a lot of expensive equipment. I rented out a location for the first time for a video, which was this cool diner and it's conceptually basically like we're going to be the girl 'Pulp Fiction'. So like Samuel Jackson and John Travolta's character, like that's me and Mojo. So it's going to be cool this Friday!
It's crazy because you didn't tell me that and when I saw all the photos, it's giving me this vibe movie. It's my favorite movie and I was like, there's something going on here?
Yes. That's how we got the diner. I'm happy it's giving that.
Are the photos the same color of the video, you know what I mean?
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. For sure. Thank you. But yeah, there's definitely going to be the same vibe. The lighting that you see in the pictures is the exact same lighting we shot. So excited. Comes out Friday, "Stack now, Laugh Later". I'm releasing it under Shay Pastel because I dropped it under Luna. So that's coming too and putting it on Bandcamp and we're going to remix it also.
When we were in Miami, obviously we literally linked up three times. The second two times it was more so focused on being around a bunch of feminine energy so to me it was really, really impactful. So I wanted to know whether is that your type of environment that you like to be in when you're creating or it ends up happening. Like what is your favorite environment to be in creating?
I think I like being around women because there's that relatability obviously and that feeling you're in a comfortable space where you can be yourself and feed off each other's good energy in that way. But I use that, I guess, as inspiration and then sometimes when I create, I'll have that energy with me. But I like to be a hermit and record by myself and then whoever I may need will be in the studio with me. Or maybe on occasions, I'll have one girlfriend there, and then she'll end up being on a skit. I do like to have that energy around me just like more calculated, but, but like regardless that energy fuels me and gives me like the inspiration for like anything I pretty much.
Right. In the first video, we were on the basketball court. That was also produced by a woman. So is this one also produced by a woman?
Femcee was produced by a guy actually. A woman produced the video. Yeah, that was a really cool video. Sasja Smith. I worked with her the whole time I was down there, which was cool because those are the first few videos I made. I only worked with women making the videos so my friends made Pam Grier with the help of another dope guy and then Sasja made Girl Gang and Femcee. And then for those two videos, I only had girls in the videos, which is dope because each time you guys all got along and a really cool vibe set that shine through the visuals, which is very cool.
It's like coed as far as people in the video, me and mojo, my collaborator, I'm religious. She's also a girl rapper based out of PG County, so we're the main subjects and then we have a mixture of people in the casts. It was pretty dope. Some volunteers, some people from the production company that helped us crowdfund and pretty much like have this whole video.
So why did you guys end up choosing Pulp Fiction?
I think we all came to my apartment and brainstormed like back in pre-COVID times in February. (well that wasn't pre-COVID times but whatever.) And we threw ideas of different concepts, different movies. Me and Mojo knew that we wanted to have it be an action-based video but we pretty much threw around ideas for different kinds of action concepts and seeing things that match what we were both going for. And I forgot who threw Pulp Fiction in the mix, but it was definitely during that initial meeting, and we all had the whole team. Me, Mojo, my manager, Jada, and Imani who did the set design and the lighting that you see for the pictures, and Eddie, and we all collaboratively threw little pieces in there. It feels good. That it's even done. Honestly, it was such a collaborative effort, but it was something we didn't think would have happened because of everything that went on. So it was cool to even get to do it. So I'm excited for everyone to see that shit.
But you guys also maneuvered your way through it, like being in the pandemic and having to do a video? Probably I'm assuming the diner one was probably the hardest one based on the fact that there's going to be a lot of people there, but then the outside ones and the hallway ones are pretty easy peasy. You're just like with the people who are part of the video, basically.
Yeah, exactly. It was a labor of love. It was really cool. I felt like Beyonce. I was like, 'this is how she feels on set' like these long-ass days and you got everyone there. You need to make sure your makeup and hair on point. You're a little nub. No strap because it'd be the smallest shit that bothers me. When it comes to videos or pictures, if my fucking bra strap is down a little or one hair is out and no one noticed. It was really cool to have a whole team to cover all those spaces.
Now to backtrack to you creating music overall, is there a specific era that you pull inspiration from, or do you kinda fuck with everything?
I think that I pull inspiration from probably the seventies and the nineties, but honestly, I can't even say it's those because it's pretty much everywhere, especially (from) someone that's really into history. I love every different time for a different reason. But music-wise, as far as recently and one that is undoubtedly inspiring to me is definitely the seventies especially like growing up my dad. He always would say that's the best decade of music. Like so many cool things came out of it. And even if it wasn't like the artists that you're aware of, the root of that music may have come out of the seventies, hip hop and rap came out the seventies. So it was a really dope decade.
I like that. So like from those eras, what are your favorite artists or prominent ones that you listened to?
Probably be Fleetwood Mac. There's a lot though that even probably stand a little bit more back. I love so Isley Brothers. I love the Gap Band. I love Mother's Finest. It's a lot of bands, honestly. I think that's what I love about the seventies. It was really the golden age of bands. More than solo acts.
In regards to the current music that you are working on, what's kind of like inspiring you right now?
I guess now it's about making shit that I feel is beneficial to whatever the fuck is going on because I found myself a little turned off by music sometimes with everything going on. I feel like a lot of it can be very distracting from shit that matters, especially right now. I don't want to hear about how much money certain people have when everyone's struggling. And I don't want to see people trying to make every little thing about them, which unfortunately is a part of being a modern artist, to an extent, when you're trying to get your name out there. Some of that stuff makes it unappealing to even want to be an artist. I think I'm focusing on the things I feel are fulfilling to me, but also fulfilling to the world or beneficial to the world moving forward. So I'm trying to be more mindful of my content and how I put it out. So again, it goes with the shift right now, it's kind of inspiring because I don't want to be in those status quo artists that don't realize that they're sometimes being used to carry on status quos.
And I'm glad that you mentioned that because I feel like 2020 has shed a light on that. There's obviously in the hip hop community, there's a lot of misogyny in most songs.
Yeah. And no one has to be conscious all the time, but it's like when you're thinking about what people are able to relate to the most and really when people really want to hear some shit or really listen to some shit, it's in music. Like the people that probably need to know these lessons about misogyny or capitalism or whatever, they're not gonna want to look at a thread on Twitter or read a PDF about that shit because they're not interested in it. So like, right. So who else is gonna really give that message to them other than the people that make music or whatever. Sometimes not all the time because no one likes conscious shit all the time, but the time calls for it. Read the room. That's the only thing you need to say, read the room!
I'm elated that everyone can see it and it's not really a choice to acknowledge it anymore but I guess it can be frustrating when you're talking about intersectionalities of all this shit. I hate to keep saying 'black woman', cause I feel like a fucking broken record talking about this shit, but there are so many layers to what needs to be fixed. When you look deeper into the intersectionalities of it, it can be frustrating because I feel like until you get to the root roots of shit, then you can never really have what you want. And when it comes to police brutality and the issues that we're talking about and how they're being handled in the selectiveness of who's important in all this... I feel like until we're looking out for everybody, we're not looking out for everybody, whether it be black women or, or trans people or whoever it may be. I feel like the bigger message in all this is that it's cool that we're at an awareness where people know that shit is wrong, but now let's take it a step deeper. Are we gonna keep looking at stuff on the surface? Because there's a lot of enlightenment that still needs to happen. And I think honestly ultimately that's my stance on everything that's going on. It's really dope to see, but I hope that we can still build upon it without having to talk in circles. I hope that we can still build upon what we're learning and keep going deeper into the root of where we see shit is wrong and that we can all collectively come together and make conscious efforts to be better, honestly.
Yeah, exactly. And that's basically where I was trying to end up going there. As an upcoming artist, it can be frustrating. And then you're a double minority on top of that so it's even more frustrating. And then the music industry basically is on a halt and it's even more frustrating. And then you're debating whether you want to convey a message or not, help this, or help that. It's such a weird dynamic to be in.
Yeah. It makes you want, honestly, feel like 'should I do this right now' sometimes, especially because like I said, it would feel like a period for some kids where they just 'should I grow the fuck up and stop having these aspirations', which are like battles I've had with myself but ultimately it's about doing what your soul is connected to. I definitely get frustrated because even as an artist, my identities as art, my identities as an individual interfere with my successes as an artist sometimes also. (There are) definitely levels but gotta learn.
During this time, it's a point where you're sitting down and you're actually figuring yourself out.
That's important. That's what it's time for. That was the hardest part though because we are so programmed to constantly do shit, but I think that's really what everyone should be doing with this time. Just sitting the fuck down. Not doing the same shit you were doing. Just trying to have your time where you're just trying to figure yourself out and sort through yourself and not be on the same boat we all were that made us fall into all this bullshit on.
Exactly. So now leading to the last question, what are you currently working on? What is next for you?
I'm currently working on a full-length project but I'm gathering more resources for it because it will be a mixtape kind of length. I've only had two EPs so I'm working with a lot of people to incorporate instrumentation to my songs for the first time. I was like literally getting a guitar to play some chords for a song, which is dope. I don't want to give any concrete dates because I know how I can be. I hope to have something out by winter. And then we got some cool content coming in the meantime, just like different stuff on here. Little conversations, integrating my love for history into who I am as an artist, which probably sounds insane, but it'll be cool and just a little content, more videos, and stuff are going to be coming out besides actual music videos.. Freestyle videos, just different ways to get to know me more as an artist and a person in the meantime, while I'm making more art.
Don't forget to check out Shay Pastel on Instagram!