Justine Skye can be easily recognized by her flowing mane of purple hair—but according to her, that’s about all that remains of the artist you once knew. The 21-year-old Brooklyn-born R&B crooner, known by her fervent social media fan-base as “The Purple Unicorn,” has a newly released single, “U Don’t Know” feat. Wizkid, a more confident, refined sound, and a new label—Jay Z’s Roc Nation, ever heard of it?—to boot. “I’m a brand-new person,” she recently told InStyle over the phone. Below, Skye talks more about her upcoming debut album, the significance of the color purple, and meeting Beyoncé.
What’s the inspiration behind “U Don’t Know”?
“It’s about being in love with someone and them not truly understanding the depth of your love. There are definite Caribbean vibes to the song, and I like adding that sound to my music. It was written in Jamaica, too, where my parents are from.”
Did you ever eat Jamaican food growing up?
“I love jerk chicken. I could literally eat it every single day of my life. I also like curry goat, rice and peas, and ackee and saltfish. For some reason no one ever taught me how to cook, though. They’ve always cooked for me!”
Tell us about your upcoming debut album.
“There’s no date set yet, but this single is pushing the button to go. A big theme is relationships. I’m a Virgo, so I’m a hard lover, and that’s pretty much all I think about. This project made me focus on understanding people and being real with myself. I’m more conscious about the decisions that I make and I’m reevaluating relationships I had in the past and moving forward. It’s a brand-new start for Justine Skye. I’m a brand-new person.”
You recently signed to Roc Nation with Rihanna and Willow Smith. Have you hung out with them at all?
“I met Rihanna a couple of times. She’s so fly—she’s like my sister in my head. Every time I’ve been around Beyoncé I get so nervous that I forget how to speak English. The last time I saw her was at Made in America [festival] and she complimented my eye makeup—I was wearing rhinestones under my eyes. As soon as I walked away, I thought, ‘Why did I wear rhinestones?’ But whatever, Beyoncé liked them.”
Who would be your dream collaboration?
“Drake and Pharrell. Drake is a lyrical genius and he’s great with melodies, and Pharrell is an amazing producer and songwriter. I’d just create magic with both of them.”
Is there a backstory behind your purple hair?
“The funny thing is, I used to hate the color purple. My mom never let me dye my hair, and I would beg her every single day. When I was 16, I told her I wanted to dye it purple and she let me—probably because never thought I’d actually do it. Then I just stuck with it. My hair is always gonna be purple. I used to wear blue lipstick every day too.”
Does that mean you’re a fan of your buddy Kylie Jenner’s blue lip kits?
“I always support my friends. My favorite one might be Love Bite—it’s a dark purple and it matches my hair nicely. Being a brown girl, I like to wear colors that are similar to my skin tone, so I wear a lot of dark colors—never anything that’s too bright.”
Listen to “U Don't Know” feat. Wizkid above, and buy the single for $6 on the iTunes Store.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.