My name is Shayna AKA Junglepussy. I'm 22 years old. Five years ago I was just one year out of high school so I was 17. I graduated high school at 16 and I went to FIT right after high school for two years and I hated it. It was so fake and I could not commit. So I had to quit. My junior high school was a public school for the gifted and talented, Philippa Schuyler, and I played an instrument, I played the clarinet. I have yet to apply that to my music so that's about as far as my education within the field goes. I don't have any formal training... no piano lessons, no vocal coaches, none of that. I don’t know if I taught myself. It just came very naturally. So I’m lucky. One person I'd attribute a large amount of my success to is myself! I’m so proud of myself for really committing to something for over a year, usually every six months I gotta really switch up my whole shit. So I’m proud of myself for really sticking out with this JP stuff, producing music and visuals and really just handling everything, for the most part, on my own, independently. It’s a lot staying positive and doing this, like the stuff that I promote, actually living it. It’s a full time job, and it’s not a job, because I enjoy it, but the option to do bad things is there and it's just as easy. But to really make the choice to be good and be consistent with it and just want to be better every day it’s really like... some days I really don’t wanna do it. But I work for myself because I don't want to be signed... that's not even the goal for me. I wanna be able to just survive, I wanna be able to help out people that I love when I can and support myself and my loved ones and be able to support my craft and my art, that’s really what I need. And I feel like, I’m not gonna say that I can do everything on my own, I definitely know that I need people that are gonna be there to help and stuff like that. But as far as getting signed... I don’t know. I’m signed to God and He got it on lock. He really plans everything out for me, as long as I’m staying true to myself every day and just being aware of my surroundings and the things that I’m going through He really sets it up so beautifully and I’m just so grateful for that. My mother always gave speeches in church when I was younger so I always saw that and she just taught me and my sister to be very outspoken women. And for some reason when the music came along it just worked out! That’s why I have to keep on being good because if I fuck up I’m gonna give the wrong message and I’m gonna produce shit. So as long as I keep my mind where it needs to be, it’s gonna be great!
FF- So what is the message that you want to be spreading to the world?
JP- The message is.. it’s our culture and everybody, forever has tried to take it from us and put their name on it. And that’s one thing I do not want to do,
I don’t want people to ever think that this is not for them... my people of color.
It’s all for them, everything I do, it’s forever gonna be for them, the decisions I make is gonna have them in mind and myself in mind because it’s benefiting myself and then you know by me eating healthy and living better... people really do it, people tweet me like Oh my Gosh! I’m in McDonalds, don’t hate me! And I’m like I don’t hate you! And I won’t tell you don’t do it. These people are really listening... so once I realized that, I definitely had to make sure that I maintain it and keep on showing the world that a young, black girl from Brooklyn can be natural and not have a fake body and I just feel like I’m really being myself! Because that’s all I have and that’s all I wanna share with people, because they need to see that’s all they need themselves, is themselves.
I’m so bad at scheming and plotting. And a lot of people are great at that, like a lot of people know how to just come and just pow boom! They get their shit and they just be moving up mad quick. And I was like woah, should I be doing that! Is that what I need to be doing? What? It’s really not me and I never wanna go outside myself to get something like that. But I definitely have to keep myself in check... there’s a few things that I’m working on. I don’t wanna take anything personally, a lot of the times people take things very personally, even small things. Not everybody is thinking about you all the time! And sometimes I think that everybody is thinking about me (laughs). And that’s one thing I really need to work on because
once I take myself out of the center of everything, I see it. I wake up and have to kill my ego every day.
I came up with this new fall schedule... summer was a little weird, I put out the project in June and things got poppin'... I was traveling a lot. It was my time to have fun! But I’m used to the school format because I was in school up until this past spring so, you know, after labor day it’s time to buckle down, settle down... school work! So I came up with this new schedule it’s a four hour block - one hour of reading, one hour of writing, one hour of exercise and one hour of meditation. And it’s so good! It’s only four hours... four hours goes by so fast! It goes by and you get things done and when you go back into the world you know you’ve had that moment to really do the necessary things that your body and mind needs.
I just need that discipline because I battle my darkness a lot. And... I’m a scorpio! My birthday is halloween! So
this is a big thing for me, just making right decisions. I could be really dark about life and I really have to push myself to be better because I feel this is my higher calling, to serve this purpose, and just spread this message on earth and I can only do it if I’m trained. And I don’t have a mentor, I don’t have nothing so I had to be really hard on myself. Not too hard! I don’t wanna beat up on myself but I do wanna get shit done.
FF- What is your dream creative project?
JP- All live instrumentals in the studio! And just a big orchestra and then it’s gonna be Erykah, Jill Scott, me, Oprah... doing ad libs! I’m working on the rest of the vision.
FF- What’ s stopping you from that!?
JP- I feel like I have my own clock in my body and it’s not time yet.. and it’s coming but I know I’m not gonna force it. That’s one thing I don’t do. I’ll know when it’s ready. But it’s cooking up though,
I’m pregnant with success
and its like over nine months, of course it’s longer than that... But it’s a super baby!
FF- Would you consider yourself a freshman, sophomore or senior in your field?
JP- I’m a junior because I’m almost there and I would’ve been a junior in college if I was in it right now. For such a small amount of time that I’ve been creating music and putting it out there the response that’s come with it has been so shocking to me and so great and amazing. I’m so grateful for it and people really love it and I’m like ok this is really like a first run just doing it and seeing what's up. So I’m about to graduate! I’m pregnant with success still, so once the baby comes thats when the graduation happens you know! And it’s gonna be so great but I’m not in a rush to get there I’m really learning how to enjoy the journey because I know that these times are not gonna be here forever so it’s cool to just have nothing to do or you know just stare at the sky, and just taking those times in because then when everything get’s so fast I never wanna get lost, I never wanna get overwhelmed and forget what I’m doing.
FF- If your life was a movie what songs would be on its soundtrack?
JP- Woah. It hasn’t even been written yet. But I would have to say mad Brandy songs, like probably her whole discography. And a lot of Drew Hill. And... who else? who else would be there singing for me? Fefe Dobson! I love her. That’s my cousin, in my head. Kiss Me Fool or Bye Bye Boyfriend but then I love Rainbow because it’s mad soft.
FF- People I should chat to?
JP- You should talk to... Salomon Faye he makes good music, I went to his show last week it was really good. It’s like hip hoppy but he sings a little, his voice is really powerful and his visual is very artsy and he performs with live bands and I love that shit. His thought process seems very good too and I don’t really know it but thats why I want you to talk to him cos I want to know it. Alright I’ll tell you people whose minds I wanna know... Gito, Salomon, Dylan, QIANA... those eyes! What do they tell?!
you can hear Junglepussy's music on her soundcloud, watch her on her youtube and follow her on her instagram and her twitter.
as told to: Olivia Seally // photos: Olivia Seally