There have been a lot of talented artists who I’ve had the opportunity of covering on Early Rising over the last two years, but the artist who I chatted with today stands tall at the top of that list as one of my clear favorites. It’s not often that you stumble across someone with as much raw talent and drive as Houston-raised, Brooklyn-based artist, Secily, but a few months ago I heard her song, “Without You”, for the first time and it took me all of 30 seconds to realize how bright of a future she has. Completely self-produced and engineered – in addition to being her own creative director and video editor – Secily has it all and the results speak for themselves with her recent traction on Spotify and TikTok (over 780K followers).
A full-time model with a voice big enough to fill a stadium, there’s good reason to believe that Secily will one day be gracing the ears of fans around the world on some of the biggest stages. With notable nods from Spotify (including the cover of Fresh Finds R&B), multiple public co-signs from Joe Budden, and an enormous amount of support from some of R&B’s favorite curators (Tomi of RNB Radar, Gen Direct, and more), Secily has had a spectacular last 3 months and is bound to continue this momentum into 2023 and beyond.
In our conversation, I got to know a lot more about Secily the person, her art, and her journey up until this point. We talked about everything from getting her Master’s degree to her new single, “Battlefield”, which is primed to be yet another example of how spectacular of a talent she truly is. A gospel-infused, r&b classic that encapsulates all that is so great about Secily’s many talents, “Battlefield”, is an empowering anthem for anyone who’s ever dealt with relationship abuse. In the record, Secily tells her story in a very honest and commendable way, so I feel extremely fortunate to be able to shed even more light about her artist and personal journey in this Q+A!
Joe: For fans who do not know you yet, I always love kicking off these Q+A’s by getting to know a little bit more about the artist. Tell me about yourself and how have you gotten to this point in your music career?
Secily: I’m from Houston, TX, born and raised, but I came to New York for college. I went to St. John’s. I actually have my Master’s degree in Sociology. I’ve always known that I wanted to be an artist, singer, entertainer, performer – that’s always been my dream – but I was never really confident in it up until very recently. I realized I needed to have a better relationship internally and started to grow my relationship with God. I posted a funny meme video about the shy friend in choir who auditions for the solo and the song in the background was a snippet that I didn’t even think that anybody would care about. It was just a snippet that I had made singing over a loop and people were like “what song is this?”, “who is this?”, “oh my god, this song…”. The next day I freestyled the rest of the song and put more loops together – because I produce everything, I write everything, and record everything here in this room – so I finished the song and I was like “should I drop it? I don’t know if I should drop it” and my roommate was like “no, you should drop it!”. That song ended up being “Without You” and all this is happening just from this song. It’s kind of crazy to see the journey of how it’s happening. So I’m just trying to take it day by day – I’m here for a reason and I have to not forget that. But before that I would just release songs and try to promote them on TikTok.
Joe: That’s incredible – I love how important God has been in your journey. Before I get into more specific questions, maybe talk a little bit more about your musical inspirations. Who do you listen to and who inspires you?
Secily: I think it’s really funny because I don’t really listen to r&b music now. I’ve heard their songs and I know their songs, but I don’t generally listen to any (r&b) music from now. It’s crazy, people are like “what?!” – I really don’t. I like older artists from the 80s, I listen to a lot of music from the 80s. My favorite artists of all-time are Michael Jackson and Prince. I love Beyoncé, now Beyoncé I listen to. I like the performers – I love Selena, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey – I love all of their music. I listen to the legends. It’s funny because sometimes people will say I sound like this person or that person, but I think we’re all inspired by the same people probably.
Joe: Definitely! So you were hinting at the fact that you’re currently in New York right now and you went to St. John’s. I know J. Cole went to St. John’s too…
Secily: He did! Well there were two campuses. There’s the Staten Island campus and the Queens campus, and I actually went to the Staten Island campus which is totally different than the Queens campus, but J. Cole’s vibe was always known on campus. I think he came to perform one time. I kind of found out about J. Cole through my brother, but ya, he went there. I always was kind of like “ya, I’m going to be like I went there and J. Cole went there” (laughs).
Joe: Next up out of St. John’s! Are you in the City now or are you in Staten Island still?
Secily: I’m in the city. I’m in Crown Heights – Brooklyn.
Joe: So take me through your experiences growing up and building as an artist in Houston and New York. What’s your relationship to those music scenes/cities and what role did they play in your development as an artist?
Secily: That’s a good question. When I was 18 I literally moved here straight from Houston. Houston is my favorite place in the world because that’s where I’m from and the culture there is so deep and profound. If you’re from there, you really understand what it means to you. It was hard for me starting my career in Houston. I remember there’s this very famous studio there called Studio 713 and I remember I was in a music video but I was trying to tell the people at the studio“hey, I sing”, “hey, I got something” or “let’s work!”, and I tried to get that going and nothing ever happened.
When Covid happened, I was in my early 20s, there was this producer I met in Houston who was pretty well-known and he found me and was like “hey, let’s work!”, and I basically moved back down to Houston from NY for this man. That experience was pretty profound in a sense that he was just really controlling. Oh my god, it was so bad… like really bad. So that kind of tainted my experiences with men in the music industry. That was in Houston and then I ended up coming back to New York and realized that I was going to do it myself.
Joe: Piggybacking off of that, I’ve seen on different social platforms that you’re outspoken about the fact that you’re doing all of this yourself with no team. Why is that and why has your independence been so important to you?
Secily: At first, I always wished and hoped for someone to guide me, genuinely just guide me and help me. But I realized at the end of the day, I’m still the steerer of the boat, I still have to steer the ship. No one is going to steer it for me, I still have to do it. Independence is important to me because I have been stripped of it for so long.
Joe: You are currently the face of this MAC cosmetics campaign and a full-time model, which is insanely impressive. Tell us a little bit about your modeling career and how you’ve been able to balance that with your music career (which I know is your priority)?
Secily: I’m glad you see that music is the main thing, because for a while there I got nervous. As someone who is creatively inclined, I also didn’t want the modeling to kind of cloud it in a sense. Whatever judgments that people naturally have about girls who are models. Like I said I have my Master’s degree, I have a lot of other credits to my name, accolades I guess, credentials I guess. I kind of started with modeling before I did with music, going full force at it. Modeling kind of found me, but I always wanted to do music and I knew that they’d go hand in hand. There really is no “balance”, I just try to make things work.
Joe: Joe Budden recently featured you as a “Sleeper Pick” on his podcast and I’ve also seen platforms like R&B Radar really championing you in the industry on social media. Maybe tell me a little bit about the role that social media has played in your success outside of Tiktok. How has all of this gone down?
Secily: First of all, Joe Budden… I’ve always watched Joe Budden, I’ve seen the podcast and I love that he’s very particular. I can tell that in how he talks about things and how he talks about people on the podcast. He’s very particular, he’s direct, he doesn’t sugar coat anything, he doesn’t lie about nothing. He not only mentioned me once but he mentioned me twice. I feel like I’m in an even higher position now as a new artist because of that co-sign. So it’s just been really exciting. And ya, social media. RNB Radar found the song and started going so hard for me. I remember always seeing R&B Tomi – I always saw him on social media and was like “damn, he’s so cool, it would be nice to be featured on something like this” Now it’s (the support) like times a million, just having those platforms to even acknowledge is really exciting, so I’m really grateful. Social media is really important, especially what I’ve realized is important is having co-signs or having larger platforms f*ck with it.
I didn’t send it (“Without You”) to anybody, I used to be that girl that was trying to send things over, but I realized that good sh*t speaks for itself. It’s always going to speak for itself. You want to attract the energy that you want to portray for you. I’m just so grateful for that, like they’re really in my corner!
Joe: I know we’ve spent a lot of time getting to know you, but I’d love to hear more about the music itself and how “Without You” was created. Walk me through that process!
Secily: I made a 30 second snippet on my computer, not thinking much of it, and I’m like “I’m going to use this on a Tiktok just to promote my voice”. Just riffing and running over it (the loop). I was always told when I was younger not to oversing or do too much, but that song was me doing a lot! I was just singing crazy on there.
I posted the meme on tiktok and since people were asking for the song, I made the rest of it the next day and released it on all streaming. I let God speak through me and the song fell from the sky. From there, I feel like I finally have my foot in the door.
Joe: Now that we’ve covered all of our bases, I want to know what you’ve got in the works? What do the next couple of months look like for you?
Secily: My original plan was to release consistent singles until I caught a buzz, but… I caught a buzz. I never thought I was going to tell my personal story, but I think that everything’s happening for a reason to tell my personal journey. So my next song is called “Battlefield” and it’s being released on November 11th. I’ve been given this position, so I’m going to be honest about where the music’s coming from since I’m the one writing it. This song is a culmination of what an abusive relationship felt like and I think people can relate to it. It’s an interesting follow-up from, “Without You”, which is more gospel and romantic – this (“Battlefield”) is like a very deep, almost dark flip-side, b-side to that.
Joe: Speaking for us all at Early Rising, we can’t wait for the release of “Battlefield”! It’s been a pleasure getting to learn more about you and your musical journey today and we know that there are only but great things on the horizon for you.
Secily: Thank you! I appreciate it!
If you haven’t already given Secily’s, “Battlefield”, the listen it deserves, now is the time to make your way to the streaming link below to check it out. I predict that Secily will soon be a name known by many, so get hip now before you’re considered late.