Mychelle, born and based in the vibrant community of Hackney, East London, is a singer-songwriter on a meteoric rise. After several years busking around her home city, Mychelle was discovered during a busk by an employee at Idris Elba’s record label, leading her to be plucked from performing on the capital’s streets and stations to featuring on a track with Elba on his Yardie Mixtape. She’s just released the dazzling Forbidden Fruit, a gorgeous and soulful song that features label-mate and emcee Enny. She’s also just competed in her first charity boxing match, so the hits keep coming in more ways than one.
With a cursory glance at Mychelle’s discography, you could be forgiven for thinking she’s been making music for just over a year, and her success so far has just fallen at her feet. Indeed, the first song she ever released was the gorgeous, jazzy and soulful number The Way last year. Her brilliant voice, acoustic guitar paired with deft instrumentation call to mind Corrinne Bailey Rae and fellow Londoner Lianne La Havas.
But the dates on Mychelle’s releases don’t tell the full story — after singing and playing guitar for most of her life, she took the very courageous step of busking around her capital city, sometimes as part of Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London’s initiative, Busk In London.
To build on The Big Smoke’s great reputation as a busking city, Khan and the team behind the initiative sought to help street performers by granting extra opportunities at places like Westminster Abbey and the metropolis of London Bridge Station, as well as assisting musicians in buying contactless payment devices.
“I was busking for many years, and I did think about releasing my music,” she says. “But I didn’t just want to rush things out. I wanted there to be a project.
"The first place I did was under the bridge in Shoreditch. And then through a competition I got a licence and I was doing the Underground in stations like Kings Cross, London Bridge and Piccadilly. They're all my favourite spots. It’s great that the Mayor’s busking scheme keeps expanding and getting Network Rail involved, and each act gets two hours.”
Mychelle also wisely used these experiences to develop not only her singing, guitar playing and performance, but also her songs as well. Knowing that passersby wouldn’t have prior knowledge of her canon, she would perform songs she had only begun writing and improvise new parts and verses.
“I think I wanted to just get better at singing and performing. It would be a place where if I had a new song and it was maybe half finished, I would start improvising, because no one's there especially to see me. So they have no idea what the song is.
"Sometimes I used to sing the same verse three times just to see how it would sound in different ways. I just wanted to get better and better at singing and get used to my songs as well.”