Cristale Talks Her Forthcoming EP, Latest Single ‘Militant’, Her Journey So Far & More!
3 Feb 2022
Fresh off her signing with Black Butter Records, South London’s promising rap riser Cristale is gearing supporters up for what’s set to be another exciting year ahead. Following the release of her recent appearance on Tiffany Calver’s cypher, as well as her latest single ‘Militant’, it’s Cristale’s unapologetic approach, fearless pen game, and all-round confidence that has made her one to watch this coming year.
Juggling her studies at University doing Illustration, to her growing career and every-day teenage life, the London native took a liking to music from a youthful age. From rap battling the boys in school, to winning poetry competitions and gaining a fast momentum from various Instagram freestyles, Cristale has swiftly flown to the forefront of British rap.
Mixtape Madness got the chance to catch up with Cristale via Zoom for an in-depth chat about her journey thus far, her latest single ‘Militant’, her forthcoming EP, and more. Tap in below to see what she had to say!
How was your New Years? What did you get up to?
From the start of January, it’s just been the release of the cypher and prepping some things for the release of my next single. I’ve just been trying to catch up on uni work because I’ve had Christmas brain! I didn’t even know when I was coming back! *laughs*It’s been a good start to the year, I recently went to go and see the Amazon billboard I was on as well, it’s been good!
Talk me through your introduction to music, not even as an artist just as a consumer – how did it all come about?
I’ve always loved music! I grew up on the greats from Aaliyah and Ashanti etc, that’s the kind of music my mum would play around the house, so I have always had that hip-hop sound in my heart. My uncle taught me how to rhyme from Nursery, that bars that we wrote together were the ones I was saying throughout the whole of primary school and doing rap battles against the boys. We were given a task in English to write about the word “basically” and why it shouldn’t be used at the start of sentences because it doesn’t make sense. The whole class had done it and we picked out a couple, one of which was mine and from then the school started a Poetry Slam in Year 7, I ended up winning it against the whole school and I was known as the poetry kid! *laughs*At the end of Sixth form I put some words to a beat and did a freestyle on Instagram, I kept doing them and my dad eventually encouraged me to take one of them into the studio and make it into a proper song. I did a couple of videos and he put me into the arms of my manager who is family on my dad’s side. Corey has been there since the beginning from the freestyles, after that lockdown hit for the first time and I lost my job. I was doing university from home and carried on with the Instagram freestyles, but it started to get a little bit tedious for a hot minute because it was hard to keep up the motivation.
I stacked up some of my student finance, invested it back into myself and bought myself some studio equipment I could use at home. I started to record from home and by the time I got back to the studio it was time to kick start it all! It took some time for me to find my sound that I have now, build up my confidence and actually believe in myself because I’ve always known that I have a way with words. I worked with a couple artists, I have a few songs with PS Hitsquad, Tana and Temz from Leeds on a song called ‘Scores’. After the release of that song, I had a DM from as assistant to an A&R who wanted to have a conversation about signing to a label. I didn’t believe it at first, I still don’t! For me to be in music officially for a year and to be approached by a label, it was mad!
In the summer of last year, I ended up signing my deal and it’s still shocking! I haven’t celebrated yet, when it’s time to do it, I will! This year I turn 21 and I’m learning to drive so by the time I get to my birthday, I’m driving, I’m signed, I’ve worked with some more people, I’ve been on my first billboard and finished my EP – then I will have something to celebrate!
As far as influences go, are there any names that have helped shape your sound or bars over the years?
I would say more American music! I might as well answer it just saying the music that I like, from artists like Drake, Nicki Minaj, Ashanti, and them lot. In terms of who actually influenced me, it would go back to the music that I grew up listening to.
Talk me through your latest single ‘Militant’ that’s dropping soon! How did this one come about?
It’s one of the songs that I made when I really found my sound, previous tracks like ‘Morgan’ and ‘Merryland’ are gritty, but this song has a hook, so I tried to make something that is catchy. I only make music that I would want to listen to. It’s going to be on my EP which is called ‘What It’s Like To Be Young’ so ‘Militant’ explores the feeling of being militant; kind of like being in a frenzy, but also how it’s ok to feel overwhelmed with your emotions as a young person. My mum came up with the whole concept of the video! The beat sounds medieval so she said we should get me in a princess looking dress, I was sceptical about it at first but when I actually thought about it in alignment with how I viewed the song it made sense. My mum is a big part of my journey because she is my makeup artist –
Really! It really is kept all in the family!
Yeah! Corey’s my manager who is basically my uncle, my mum is my makeup artist and I do my own hair. I don’t have to rely on anyone! If I do, I can rely on my family because they are always there for me. I always ask my mum for advice without a doubt!
What’s your creative process like?
I’m always writing so I always have bars there! I could think of something whilst I’m washing the dishes up before studio, sit in the car, get into the session and if that one bar, if I hear the right beat it’ll come like that! In the beginning I didn’t really like having people in my session but I’m more than comfortable now going to the studio with people but don’t get me wrong I do like it on my own sometimes, there’s less pressure. Sometimes you need the energy to be up there though! Other than that, I have my water, a cheeky zoot break or sometimes I will go live. I’m quite boring!
You don’t come across as boring!
Some artists are crazy though, taking shots etc! I’m like woah bro chill! More time I have a few tangerines with me, my water, and my Dettol wipes *laughs*
You’ve also recently took part in Tiffany Calver’s cypher with some amazing names which is sick! How did you find that whole process?
It was sick! When I got approached for it and I saw the line-up I thought woah! I wrote my bars and went there, and it was a calm vibe. There was a couple of faces I had met there for the first time like Arz, Adz and Knucks etc. We might have interacted on socials before but seeing them in real life was nice!
As far as collaborations go, is there anyone in the UK or overseas that you want to work with?
I want to work with everybody! Within quality control and reason of course but I’m not too fussed about quality control, trying to control the quality stops you from making quality. If I like someone’s bars, I will work with them however big or small they are. If you don’t take a chance on people the way you would take a chance on you, how am I supposed to be on the level that I want to be at? People took chances on me, embraced me on social media, let me speak in certain rooms and let my voice be heard.
What are your thoughts on the UK scene as it stands? We have quite a lot of people coming through TikTok etc…
This isn’t because people are bussing on TikTok, because if your song does well on their then teach me! *laughs* The only thing is, I still feel like the UK is bad vibes. I love this country. I am going to do what I can, as an individual, as a woman, a black woman and as an artist to do what I can for my community. But, as a community and learning to embrace our own, it’s only through certain things like TikTok that allows us to do it. We have a long way to go in regard to opening up our ears, listening to it and actually taking it in as opposed to it sitting at the forefront of our heads.
Even with Hazey on the ‘Packs and Potions’ track that went viral on TikTok – it’s so hard! People are getting gassed over it, not for the wrong reasons, but if you actually listen to what he is saying; he’s only what 15, 16, or 17?! He’s telling me about his day-to-day and what he has to do in order to get money! He should be in school and he’s taking about putting a sim in a burner so he can go and make p’s on the road! They aren’t gassing him up for his truths, they are gassing him up because his accent makes the bars sound hard – which it does! I’m happy for him though!
Do you think that’s something that we will see rather than just seeing the gimmick side of it?
A lot of people say that the UK copies whatever the US does. As of right now, the only way it will be in reach is if the UK does it. If they picked up Hazey, Arz, and them lot and makes them blow there, then we will really embrace them over here. But they came from here so we should be giving them the strength to go over there anyway! I don’t think we are far off!
Putting the music aside, what do you like doing for fun or in your spare time?
I like buying trainers! *laughs* I could actually have one white t-shirt and two socks in my draws and 50,000 pairs of trainers and I will be happy to walk down the street like that! *laughs* I used to play football for Crystal Palace when I was growing up but since uni and trying to juggle everything, it’s a myth to do all of it! I like playing PlayStation, watching films and TV shows etc.
What else can we expect to see from you this coming year?
My EP should be dropping soon and then getting mixtape teasers throughout the year! Expect a lot of brand partnerships, expect to see my face a lot more!
Keep up to date with all things Cristale via her Instagram here.