If you aren't familiar with Justine Skye, the 20-year-old R&B songstress who counts Tyga and Kylie Jenner among her inner circle, it's time to get acquainted. Since garnering social media acclaim after founding her highly-frequented Tumblr page, Purple Unicorn, she's released her second EP, Emotionally Unavailable, performed at this year's Essence Festival, and, this week, she'll be playing her biggest gig yet: Jay Z's TIDAL X 1020 concert at Barclays Center in N.Y.C., along with the likes of Beyoncé, Usher and Nicki Minaj, to name just a few. In advance of the show, we sat down with Skye to discuss her pre-show ritual, her style icons, and how she found her inner confidence.
Emotionally Unavailable seems to be a thematic departure from your first EP, Everyday Living. Was that intentional?
"When I was working on Everyday Living, I was going through a breakup. Half of me was like, 'I don't care—I don't have any feelings!' and the other half was like, 'Wow, I actually care so much. I haven't been alone in three years!' So to even say that you're emotionally unavailable, you have to be emotional. That's a place we've all been in our lives, where we feel like we don’t have any emotions or are confused with our relationship statuses—especially on Facebook. So I definitely felt that it was the right title.
You've been a proponent of releasing music via social media. Is how you present yourself on the Internet different from how you present yourself IRL?
"People tend to not post when they're at their worst, but I try to be as open as I can be with my fans. I express myself a lot on Tumblr, especially through my diary entries, but my Instagram is my modeling portfolio. I have my game face on at all times."
How did you come up the name Purple Unicorn?
"My hair is purple and unicorns mean a lot to me. They're unique, rare, majestic, and beautiful, and I think those are some things that I embody. I wasn't always confident, and so once I gained my confidence, I was like, 'I'm a unicorn and I don’t care what anybody says." My fans are unicorns too. I like to call them my "unicorn nation.'"
Was style a factor in helping you build your confidence?
"It takes a lot for you to find your confidence, but you shouldn’t let someone else be the person to find it for you. You should look for it yourself. In terms of style, I'm really inspired by Foxy Brown and Naomi Campbell. I like to mix the street look with classy and sexy. I call it 'hood chic.'"
R&B seems to be having a comeback, with artists like you, Kehlani, and Jhene Aiko. Why do you think people are starting to pay more attention?
"R&B was really prominent in the '90s, and we can all admit that it kind of fell off. But my generation is more in touch with our emotions—we're not afraid to show them. We're bringing that decade back."