Shy But Flyy

Shy But Flyy _01

    In the Long Beach music scene it's hard to think of someone more active than Shy But Flyy. It becomes hard to know who Shy is when the only time you see her is at a show or open mic she's hosting. I've always been curious as to who she is because she's seems so elusive. On a given night I've known her to go to 4 different events. She's come up with a term 'ghosting' for when you vanish from a place and move on to the next. For everyone around they generally understand.

    I wanted to get to know Shy and find out what her story is so we met at The Library Coffee Shop. She showed up with her long braids, neon green sunglasses and, diagonal-striped black and white shirt and dark pants. She's always had an interesting style every time I've seen her and it's usually nighttime and this was the first time I've seen her in a warm daytime setting. Something neither of us particularly feel comfortable in.

Mind if I smoke?

No, go ahead.

    Great. So let's start from the beginning. Were you born in Long Beach?

I was born in San Antonio, Texas. I moved out here when I was seven. I don't remember much. I just remember the house I lived in was super hot and there were fire ants and you could cook an egg outside (haha) on the pavement.

    Have you ever gone back?

No. I had family there but my family moves around a lot. They don't really live there anymore so there's no reason to go back. Eventually I do and see the house I grew up in and see where I was born.

    What did your parents do?

Well, my dad was in the military and he was a professor so he traveled and taught a lot but he lives in Atlanta now and we're still really close. My mom lives out here and she's a school teacher. She's with LAUSD now. So yeah, I come from teachers (haha). A bunch of teachers in my family. That's why I wanted to be a teacher. Right now I'm a teacher's assistant. I always wanted to work with kids. Especially creative writing and music.

    What made you want to get into music?

Ummm, ever since I was little I always loved music and my dad would play a lot of records and have a ton of cd's and we would just drive around. I was exposed to so many different genres and types of music.

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    Do you remember any of them?

He likes a lot of, like, blues and funk and, you know, old time BB King. I didn't know then how great what I was listening to at that age. Being exposed to it. A lot of people now, I think, when they hear an old blues guitarist they might not know who it is but I grew up with that stuff. In middle school and high school I did more research and wanted to know more about that time and their stories and it inspired me to start writing my own songs. When I would listen to music and I couldn't find something that had the emotion that I was looking for so I would just write my own.

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    Where did you go to High School and what were you into?

I went to High School in San Pedro. I listened to blues and jazz a lot but actually I got more into hip hop. And for awhile when I started out singing I was an R&B\hip hop singer. A lot of people don't know that because when they see me now as a poet and sing blues and jazz that I was in the hip hop scene. I was totally into that, you know, when you hear rap songs I would totally be that girl singing the hook. I would be at the shows singing and rapping. Although I was listening to soul I would never sing it outside my house, really, it was always my first love and my passion but I felt like I had to go with the times with pop music and I didn't want to step outside that box. Working with labels they want a certain thing especially if you want to be famous you have to go with what they want.

Did they want you to do more pop music or things you didn't want to do?

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Yeah, especially that type of music. It comes from a different place. I think music is all creative but I felt like I was and wasn't myself. Being an artist and being signed there are certain things you have to do when you're working with labels and the way you do your hair or when they want you to write a certain song. I felt kinda controlled. That's mainly why I stopped doing that genre.

I mean, I was playing shows in Universal and Hollywood clubs and I felt like I was on the verge of getting signed. I had meetings with labels but they all wanted the same thing. They wanted a certain person and I've never wanted to be boxed. This happened 4 years ago and it doesn't seem that long but I've grown so much as an artist. I stopped singing for awhile and did some soul searching and writing poetry more and that's when I got into jazz and blues. I felt like it was a breath of fresh air like, oh my gosh! I don't regret anything, the R&B and hip hop or the meetings because I feel like it helped me grow as an artist.

    So did you feel you had to go through that to find out what you wanted to do?

I feel like I really did need to go through that because there are different types of artists. If I just wanted to be famous I would've done anything. I would've done the songs they wanted me to do and dress how they wanted me to dress. But for me, music is therapeutic and it's about connecting with people and sharing and growing and I'm doing that now. If I wasn't, I feel like a part of me would always wonder.

    Wow, you really have that integrity

(haha) I don't talk about this much. (haha)

    As busy and popular as you are around Long Beach you would think you wouldn't be so shy. How did you come up with that name?

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It's funny. I've been super shy the majority of my life. I'm still shy to an extent but I wouldn't talk. I've always had friends but I was never that social person. But I sang and I wrote poetry for me and my best friend heard me sing one day and she was like "Whoa! Where have you been hiding that voice?" Then she signed me up for a talent show and I don't know how I got up there but I did it. And there were a ton of people and I was so nervous but I did it and everyone was like, "Whoa! You're so shy but you're Flyy!" and after awhile I would walk around and people would be like, "Hey! Shy But Flyy".

    (Haha) I thought you picked that name?

(Haha) I didn't. I wish I could take the credit for picking that name but I didn't. And it kinda stuck because it sums me up perfectly because I'll be shy just talking to people but when I get up on the stage I feel like I'm in my natural habitat.

    Who do you play with?

I play with the Cold Shoulders and it's actually a new band and we've only been together for five months. There's Fernando Gallegos, Matt Williams and Keerthi I can never say his last name (Chandrashekar).

    How did you find each other?

Well, I knew Fernando just through the open mic scene and I met Matt at a jam session and Keerthi saw me playing with another band before. One day I booked a show and I said to Matt and Fernando will you just play with me because it's a long set. Then we did it and afterwards we went for drinks at the Federal Bar and Matt said why don't we just become a band. And I thought, "You know what? I've never been in an official and band." so I said why not? So I called up Keerthi and I said, "Yo, do you still want to jam?" He said, "Yeah" and then we've been a band ever since. We've played so many places.

    Is it exhausting playing all these places?

No, it's rejuvenating. I always say, jokingly, that when I'm not playing a show I get into trouble. I don't know what to do with myself if I have a Friday off.

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    Do you have any nights off?

You know what? Not really because I'm in a band now. I still do my solo stuff and I still host 3 open mics.

    What open mics are there?

There's Xpressions at The Bungalo and I do Shades of Afrika and Charles Snyder asked me to take over at the Public Beer and Wine open mic while he's in Atlanta. I love hosting and it's very therapeutic and a lot of artists don't have an outlet to perform. They're not booking shows and it's a way to bring the community together.

    How do you feel about the Long Beach community?

It's cool. I'm happy I moved here. The art is growing and so many places that didn't have live music are starting to. There's lots of open mics popping up and people are getting residencies at restaurants and stuff like that.

You are an artist cultivator.   

(Hahah) Thank you.

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    What was the thing in Pedro you just did?

I did this thing called 100,000 poets and musicians for change. And basically it's a radio show that's going to broadcast September 26th nationally. It's basically what we were just talking about. How musicians and poets are able to change the world with what we create and what we share. They interviewed me and asked me how long I've been writing and we talked about my book.

    You have a book?

Yeah, I have a book of poetry. (Haha) And I'm working on my next one.

    What's it called?

The Meaning of the Blues. I released it about 2 years ago.

    Can you still relate to the poetry you wrote in that book?

I can still relate! It kinda freaks me out sometimes. Does art imitate life or does life imitate art? I'll be going through something now and there will be a poem already written in the book about that. Am I just repeating or did I write this and now it's happening? The book I'm writing now I want to go through a publisher and push it more. The last one didn't have chapters but this one will.

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    Where do you have your book?

I sell them online and at my shows and I have one at Fallbrook Library pass San Diego.

    Do you want to inspire the young ones? Do you have any advice to give them?

Sometimes it freaks me out. I did a show not too long ago and a group of kids in the front row were screaming my name the whole time. I was like I don't even know them (haha). My friends that I was playing with said, "Whoa, Shy you have a fan club". It's crazy how I don't even intend to do this and it just happens. I love working with kids because I think they have voices and a lot of times they don't know how to share it or express it. A lot of times they turn to the wrong path because they're holding so much in and they're experiencing so much. So I like working with kids and helping them express themselves.

Where do you live in Long Beach?

At first I lived right downtown. Right at the pike. I felt like I was in a big city. It was really cool. Now I live outside of downtown where it's really mellow and quiet. I can go outside and write and enjoy the quiet. But I find myself always downtown and I'm thinking, "Should I move back?" and I think, "no I shouldn't." There's always parking where I live.

   Do you have any gigs coming up?

Yeah, we're playing some house parties this weekend and we're playing Harvelle's on Oct. 7th so that's the one we're promoting. Harvelle's is one of my favorite places to play in Long Beach. They have a great stage and it's like a speakeasy underground and they have a little door you can come out from backstage. The lights and the sound is good. I love it.

    This is great! I think we're good.

Okay cool. (Haha) I usually don't talk this much. I feel like I'm going to explode. (Haha) Maybe that's the Shy part. I always say I'm cooler on stage. (Haha) Just give me a microphone and let me sing.

    Do you think we got to know the real Shyy?

I am kind of a mystery.

    Yeah! No one knows your name. (haha)

(Haha) Yeah but I never really get to hang out. It's always hi and bye. But lately I'm starting to hang out more and taking chill nights. But if I didn't do music or art I wouldn't know what I would do (haha).