Interview With Justine Tyrell / New Single “Radar”
Calgary based R&B artist Justine Tyrell has recently released her latest single and music video for “Radar”, a silky, smooth R&B piano ballad. The tune was recorded live off the floor – with no retakes or edits, and discusses a past lover who chooses to keep an eye on their old flame – keeping them on their radar. With a sound reminiscent of the classic R&B sound of the early 2000’s, Justine’s sultry vocals and traditional R&B melodies come with a fresh, modern day flare, and have piqued the attention of music critics across Canada and beyond.
“Radar is a song that calls out the past lover who is stuck keeping the door to the past cracked open just enough to never fully let go of what they once had. The stripped down, and intimate mood recounts the one who still keeps an eye on what you’re doing, spectating through social media, asking around and observing– unable to look away. Forever keeping you in their focus – and stuck on their radar.” – Justine Tyrell
We had the opportunity to interview Justine about her new song & video, the decision to record it live off the floor, being titled one of Calgary’s game changers, her song writing, what’s coming next and more. Click below to watch “Radar” and keep scrolling for our interview with Justine Tyrell.
You recently released your latest single Radar, can you tell us about the inspiration behind the song?
Radar was born partly from a personal place, partly from what I’d seen some of my friends going through – and partly just the emotion that the chords inspired when I heard the song. The word ‘Radar’ kept sticking out to me – and from there, it brought on this idea of someone who lost you – but doesn’t want to lose that access to you, keeping the door cracked open ever so slightly. For me, the personal element wasn’t just romantically, but just with people I’d seen come and go from my life over the years. I wanted to capture that notion that says, “I see you watching – I see you can’t look away – and I’m going to continue to move forward.”
The new single was recorded live off the floor, with no retakes or edits. What made you decide to record and release it in such a raw way?
Everything about this song came together very organically, so it felt like the recording process should really emulate that. We were off the heels of a chat on how some of our favorite artists had released tracks that almost felt like voice notes and how there was a beauty in that type of simplicity. This felt like one of those opportunities – to just focus on capturing the emotion, and a moment – above all else. I didn’t want to over complicate it and felt like here, less could be more. It was also a great way for me to challenge my process and myself, artistically.
There’s a music video that came out alongside Radar, can you tell us about it?
Yes! An old house from the 1900’s, probably every candle in Calgary, and a very intentional mood that I had in mind the day I sat down to record the song. The video is shot as an off the floor video with minimal edits. Barefoot, in a house that’s partly empty – which for me, signified a sense of transition. I wanted to take the elements that made the song so special to me and channel that into a living, breathing, setting to sing for this song.
You’ve been titled as a “game changer” in your hometown of Calgary. Can you tell us about Calgary’s music scene, both pre-covid and currently?
Two words. Underrated. I can’t even begin to tell you how under-rated our scene has been. That’s shifting hugely, thankfully. The talent here can seriously compete globally – and is diverse in what you’d find. Pre-covid, it wasn’t hard to find live music many nights of the week, where I’ve seen some of my favorite acts in action. Currently, these artists have shifted into releasing what they’ve been working on in quarantine, collaborating online in writing sessions – and showing the same level of “squad hustle” mentality that I think has always made this scene really special. Generally I think the artists here want to see each other succeed, and that hugely sets the tone of our scene.
You’ve described music as being your first love. Why is it something that you are so passionate about?
I don’t think I had a choice. When I’m without it, I crave it. When I’m not creating, writing, or singing – I feel a void that I honestly can’t fill with anything else. When I was young, it was where I learned to express myself and be me. It never stopped being that place for me.
You wrote your first song at the age of 7. What are a few of the most important lessons you’ve learned about songwriting along the way?
That there are way less rules that I thought. A song doesn’t have to be literal, it doesn’t have to be metaphorical. It doesn’t have to be about you – or it can chronicle exactly what you’re going through. Either way, it’s your interpretation of something and I think that’s the whole point. That’s what makes it so limitless and liberating. I learned that my process is best when I’m responsive to an idea or feeling – versus saying “I’m going to write a song about ‘X’ today. I admire artists that are great at that – I’m not. I’ve also learned that my process is ever changing, and still pretty messy – even after all these years. But so am I, so that kind of makes sense.
Last year you performed at Saddledome as part of the official The Grey Cup Festival, how was that experience?
Crazy. I felt like I blinked and it was over – but it really was one of those milestone venues and experiences for me. I remember sitting back and watching Jim Cuddy perform after us, and being like “I was just up there…damn.” It was a really great night.
What is one of your favourite memories of performing your music live?
I played a show, shortly after my single came out – and this was my first time performing my song live. My piano player started playing the chords, and instantly – I saw people singing all the words. I’ve never felt that before, where people knew the words to my own song. Blew my mind. I sang teary eyed and forgot the second verse – but it was worth it.
Who are a few of your favourite Canadian artists?
Drake, Daniel Caesar, Jessie Reyes – with a side of Michael Buble. All of them have been huge inspirations for me, and are just brilliant.
You are set to release a new EP this spring can you tell us about it? What can fans expect?
Fans can expect a taste of elements of throwback R&B Influences that I love and grew up on, meeting darker toned, contemporary, trap-soul moods. This EP tows the line between sweet anthemic R&B moments, with a bit of a darker side that’s more unapologetic and indulgent. I’ve always loved the concept of duality (perhaps it’s the gemini in me) – so with this EP I wanted to dig a little deeper into both sides and give listeners moods that they can see all sides of themselves in.
What can fans expect next from Justine Tyrell?
More midnight cookoffs in my instagram stories, more photos of my stealing my dads shirts – and a new single at the end of February.