London-based Tyson McVey on Finding Her Path in Music

Words by Josh Jones
Photography by Frank Lebon

We told Tyson her music made us want to drive around the city
at dusk, windows down, stereo up.

Her reply couldn’t have been more Londoner,

“Oh my days!” she exclaimed.Wow, that is a big compliment.
I’m imagining the beginning of a hot summer night in London. Let’s pretend you’re on the way to go dancing all night somewhere.

Last year, Tyson dropped her joyous Moonlight Mixtape —an amalgam of music, voicemails from Oscar Scheller (her producer, collaborator and old friend), and peeks into her personal life, like a family skit they call, “Mike Tyson Mcvey.” 2021 finds her having released a single called “Red Handed” this year, and she’s collaborating again with Scheller in a locked down world replete with its pros and cons. I’m working towards a bigger body of work, which feels really good and I’m excited about playing live, when and if that happens. Because it was lockdown, I had to finish it on my own with Oscar on FaceTime or in my garden. I had basically never recorded my own vocals or made anything by myself because I was too scared. I think I needed to make the tape. I had to work with what I had. I knew it could never be perfect and that made me feel free and comfortable to do whatever I felt at the time. And yet the subject, as for many performers, keeps coming back to the elemental craft of live shows. “To me that’s one of the best parts about sharing your music with people. I hope that happens this year. Other than that,

“I just want to keep writing, keep making stuff, keep working.”

We’d be grossly remiss to leave out mention of the incredible talent Tyson Mcvey hails from: Neneh Cherry and Cameron McVey are her parents, and Mabel, the singer is her younger sister. What a perfect stroke of luck for a musician, to be able to pursue music in a house a full of musical artists. Right? Wrong. Young Tyson decided instead to go to college and study Anthropology, Sociology, and Material and Visual Culture. “I think academia was my way of rebelling against a family of creative freaks,” she laughs. “No, it gave me a lot but I will never be an academic. I liked questioning those disciplines through studying them. I never understood the point of studying those subjects and not sharing the fruits of that labor with everyone. It’s such a weird colonial and voyeuristic idea to ‘study’ people and then write about it for other academics. I found it more interesting questioning the whole thing.” We’re so proud. But mostly, we’re psyched. Because after that, Tyson did choose music, “I haven’t always felt free with music… it took me a long time to find my own path and I’m definitely still figuring it out. I have no idea if that’s to do with having musicians in the family or just who I am as a person, but it’s mainly a confidence thing. As I’ve gotten older I’ve taken the pressure off myself to be perfect and that makes it easier to make mistakes. Without the pressure of perfection, I find it easier to have fun. Sometimes mistakes even end up being the best ideas.” TW: @tysonmcvey