Shy Inspires Us to Stay Cautious About Love This Valentine’s Day
Words and Interview by Ross Atkinson
Last September, Shy Lennox released his 2018 EP Audition. Ink interviewed him in November about the EP, but today, Shy has come back to the project with a new visual for his hit single Signs. The video beautifully visualizes the story of Shy’s realizations after a serious romantic relationship ended. For Valentine’s Day, we talked to Shy about his romantic struggles and the process by which he depicts this in his new music video.
Ross Atkinson: Signs is a track off of your 2018 EP Audition, what caused your decision to make and release the Signs video on Valentine’s Day?
Shy Lennox: The storyline for the Signs visual is loosely based off of a dream I had on Valentine’s Day last year. It had been four days since I had broken up with my first serious partner, my heart was healing, and I was trying to get my mindset back in the right place. I wrote the story down in my journal right when I woke up but didn’t make sense of it until months later. I wanted to release the video precisely one year after for two reasons: I wanted to symbolize my strength and new creative ability after leaving my partner, and I wanted it to be a gift to my listeners who understand the infatuation phase I describe in Signs.
Ross: What’s the personal significance for you in this track?
Shy: I wrote Signs at a time when I was deeply in love. My former partner is an Aquarius, and I’m a Taurus, so I’m an incredibly devoted and loyal person. I found myself feeling so mesmerized in his company, and I was so willing to do anything to be with him that I began to compromise my integrity. He was my world at that time, and I often thought: “Is this real, Is it a sign that we’re meant to be?” Even though I’m no longer with him, I still listen to Signs and remember all of the beautiful feelings and moments of bliss that led me to fall in love [with him].
Ross: Can you tell me about the personal importance of your Audition EP in general?
Shy: The idea of auditioning to me is very close to my heart. As an operatic vocal performance major, most of my life consists of continually auditioning for roles and being judged on my ability to perform, and create, and execute art. I wanted to name my first EP “audition” because I felt like this was my first real chance to show my skills. This EP was my audition to the world to show everyone who Shy Lennox is. The idea of auditioning is also so much bigger than the entertainment world. When you meet somebody new, you’re essentially auditioning for them. When you go to a job interview, you’re auditioning for the position. Also, most importantly, when you fall in love, the entire relationship is an audition.
Ross: The new video really presents a kind of dreamlike environment, something I’ve always felt like matches your music. The choreography and costumes really elevated that, can you tell me about your styling decisions in the video?
Shy: After creating what I felt was the perfect mood board and video treatment, I collaborated with Pharoh Sistare and Nastassja Swift. Pharoh is the creator of Palette Studios and styled the clothing for the video under my creative direction, and Nastassja hand-sculpted the masks from cotton and wire. It was important to me to hire Black artists because I knew they would understand what kind of vibe I wanted this visual to have exactly. When it came to making the visual match the music, I would not accept something that was not cohesive. I believe visuals today are incredibly impactful, and I had to ensure that my first one was perfect
Ross: At the end of the video, you’re seen digging your own grave; it’s not a story that traditionally would be connected to Valentine’s Day. What’s this kind of relationship that you’re expressing?
Shy: The burial scene is meant to be a representation of how you can destroy yourself in a relationship. You can put so much faith, trust, and energy into one person and not receive any of that back. It hurts to be with someone who doesn’t match your level of commitment or understand their toxicity.
Ross: Should we be expecting anything from you in the near future?
Shy: As long as I’m breathing, you should always expect something from me.
Watch the video for Shy Lennox’s Signs here, and listen to the Audition EP on your favorite music streaming service.