Exclusive: Interview with Cybèle

Age does not matter. These words seem hollow when we think about the opportunities that many young people don’t really get. But there are artists like Cybèle who make the most of the available resources and leave the naysayers speechless. They don’t wait for the opportunity, instead, they create one for themselves.

Cybèle has been a featured singer in the Europe, Asia, and in the US from coast-to-coast,  including in Los Angeles, CA — LA Live, Staples Center, the Avalon Theater and at the famed Apollo Theater in Harlem, NY.  Outside of her studies, Cybèle follows her dream of making a difference through her singing/songwriting and acting.  She has participated in numerous local events, motivated to make a difference by giving hope to others and inspiring others to be the best they can. She has sung for many benefits, including in her local community where she has joined to support the Ascencia Homeless Shelter, Los Angeles Christmas Toy Drive,  American Cancer Society Relay for Life and Cancer Walk, Save the Animal Rights Campaigns, and the 1990 Institute.

In an interview with CelebMix, Cybèle has taken her time to detail out her journey, influences, and her new single “Anything”. Check out the complete interview below:

Hi Cybele! Can you please tell our readers a bit about yourself?

I am a French-Chinese American artist, who previously lived in China for ten years. I am an R&B/Pop singer-songwriter and I love to uplift people with my music and create content that will resonate universally. I have previously performed on Chinese National Television (with over 800 million viewers), for a Superbowl commercial, and I am currently writing songs for my repertoire and for various causes that I am passionate about.

I am a philanthropist and I am passionate about addressing and advocating for the improvement of women’s issues, issues related to racial discrimination and low-income families. My goal as an artist is to influence the younger generation to live life in the pursuit and fulfillment of their dreams and the betterment of society and their community as a whole.

You have been a featured artist at some of the most significant places. How did your journey as an artist begin?

Music has been a part of me for my entire life. My mom hosted music classes where we sang nursery rhymes and played games with rhythms from around the world. From then on, my musical inspirations included the Disney princesses, ABBA, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga, Christina Aguilera, and many more. I took every opportunity I could to sing and perform, including playing leads in school plays. I broke out at the tender age of 10 when I won a singing competition and CCTV gave the winner a chance to perform on Chinese National Television for one of the most watched shows in the world.  I sang “You’ll be in my Heart” by Phil Collins and I was overwhelmed, yet galvanized to be even more head over heels for my craft by seeing multitudes of other international dancers and singers around me.

My parents realized I had developed a true passion for singing and performing.  Soon, my parents and I made the bold decision to move to the U.S. to be able to pursue my dream. I first went to Connecticut, where I stayed with my grandparents and took the New Haven train to New York to do auditions. Then, after doing some professional musical theater, I moved to Los Angeles with my family. Ever since I have been writing, creating, bopping, singing, dancing, and (a lot of ) rehearsing.

Is it difficult to manage work and studies? How do you create a balance? 

Managing work and studies have not been as challenging for me as I thought it would be. If you remain passionate and focused on what you do, feeling balanced comes in the fulfillment of the pursuit of your goals. I love making music by myself, acting as my own therapist at the grand piano, sharing meaningful connections with the sound engineer and the producer, and I love having hours of hours to lay harmonies on top of one another. I also, on the other hand, care deeply for learning about the world around me. I cherish my time with my studies to be enlightened every single day. In the classroom, I am not only being informed about what it means to be human in the 21st century, but also what it means to be a global citizen. I’m having so much fun in the process that I don’t think of working or studying in conventional terms.

As a songwriter, what kind of events often become a source of inspiration for you?

Funnily enough, happiness does not influence my songwriting as much as sadness does. Often, we are encouraged to move through sadness quickly and recover in order to meet the demands of our increasingly fast-paced world. My philosophy is that you should try to relish that sadness for as long as possible and not to postpone, delay, or conceal this in any form; not only is this unhealthy for us but as a songwriter, there is so much beauty in that emotion. If you don’t capture sadness at its height, then your work will never capture its essence at its most ripe moment. Sadness has many colors of sub-emotions such as anger, jealousy, the feeling of betrayal, confusion, fear, guilt, and apprehension. It is easy to forget just how broad that spectrum is because it is something that society has taught people to suppress. When I feel blue, this could range from causes that are quite frivolous from my day-to-day life or something that is much bigger such as something I read in the news.

We would also like to know about the creative process that goes behind your songs?

I try my best not to approach the beginning of songwriting in a very methodical way. There are some circumstances where I force myself to write a song with time constraints, but for the majority, the melody flows with ease. If it doesn’t come with ease, at least for me, it’s not a good song. For me, the inspiration for a new song is like a fever, not in the sense that it’s annoying or a disturbance, but rather that it can simply come at any time and you have to be prepared to tackle it head on and record it as fast as possible.   If I get an inspiration for a song, I simply take my phone, pull out voice-memos and sing. I don’t think, I don’t strategize. I simply let the emotion vocalize itself.  This is where I get the melody of the song. As soon as I sing out my melody, I wait until I have access to my piano at home, so I can pluck out a chord progression. From there, I assess what the purpose of my tune is, and from there, I create a mental outline of the verses, the refrain, and the bridge. During this process, I try to understand how a progression would be seen in the lyrics, and I write a first draft of the song. I play it through multiple times, tweaking my syntax, my usage of literary techniques, and my word choice. The last step is writing the bridge and the introduction.

Please tell our readers about your song “Anything”. The song has quite a catchy vibe so, we are quite intrigued about the single.

The inspiration for “Anything” was brewing inside of me for quite a while. I always knew I wanted to write a song that would have a positive and uplifting message for listeners of all backgrounds and ages. I wanted to create a reminder that truly ANYTHING is possible.  From my personal life, I drew inspiration from my own experiences of being told that my dreams were simply too audacious and crazy from peers, but mostly, I drew inspiration from my grandfather. My grandfather is an immigrant from Mainland China, who came to America in the mid- 50’s and despite having to learn a new culture and language, he managed to become a chaired Yale Physics and Electrical Engineering Professor who went on to publish books and hundreds of articles.  All the while he focused on his research and teaching, he and my grandmother also raised 3 children who each went on to pursue an Ivy League education and graduate studies. Unfortunately, in his mid-50’s he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.  After working at Yale for over fifty years, he finally retired and only days after his retirement he had a near-death accident related to his condition. He recovered to some extent after every day doing hours and hours, month after month of physical therapy. However, to this day, he is still fighting and I couldn’t be more proud of how much determination he has shown in his life. This song is meant to demonstrate that while life can be difficult to cope with, the highs outweigh the pain and the hardships. Likewise, this song is a reminder that those who discourage you from reaching for the stars are simply just one component of your journey to success, and that this bitter reaction to your ambition should be used to fuel your drive even more. This song is great for waking up to, for dancing to, and for being incredible too. Is that an action itself? Sure.

As an individual, you have been contributing to various important organizations. We would like you to tell us a bit about your social endeavours and what motivates you to participate.

I love performing for others and hopefully spreading light through sharing my passion with everyone. I am very adamant about using my time to ignite awareness around issues that have been previously overlooked or ignored. In doing so, I also learn more about what struggles others are going through and developing empathy; I have also learned that we are more alike than may appear as everyone has the issues that they are working through.

For example, I have sung to support the Ascencia Homeless Shelter, Los Angeles Toy Drives, Mending Kids, the American Cancer Society (including Relays for Life and the Cancer Walk), Save the Animal Rights Campaigns, and the 1990 Institute. All of these organizations and institutions promote interconnectedness and speaking up or doing things about tough but important matters. I am motivated to sing for them because I believe that I, as an artist and young individual, have the power to inspire change and promote good with the time I have.

We read that you aim to make a difference with your music and acting. Please elaborate.

I do hope to inspire others to be ambitious and to live fearlessly because of how short life is. You don’t have time to worry what negative people have to say regarding your behavior, and you don’t have time to worry about failure and disappointment; you especially don’t have time to regret your past and what you haven’t done. With my music, I want to inspire others, especially young girls and women, to be the boss of their own lives. I know it has been said many times, in many forms, but I feel that society often tries to shame females for their assertiveness and their leadership qualities because these are seen as traditionally masculine traits. I feel that all genders contribute to questioning the validity of a woman’s  “value”  and sometimes mental stability when she is outspoken or challenges something.

Through music, I want to address the issue of self-confidence for those who are lacking it. Unfortunately, there is not a time to live a happy life if you spend most of it loathing about what you don’t have and what is out of your control. I want to not only inspire gratitude but also convey the idea that what you already possess is very valuable. There is no need to down-play your attributes or your achievements based on another person’s view of what you should perceive them to be. In acting, I hope to inspire more diversity in Hollywood. While, for example, Asian people have been on screens for many years, many depictions of us have been of offensive and dehumanizing stereotypes, that reduces us to nerds or buffoons. I don’t think that it is acceptable to categorize a race and attach labels to that in media, because not only are many stereotypes over-generalized, but they are often the only insight some secluded people have into what the lives of diversity.

Would you like to share with us your future projects or endeavours?

I want to be a catalyst for action and for change. I have recently started writing music for inspirational organizations.  For example, I just did a song for the Stanford Business School’s Women’s Circles whose mission is to grow a community of thriving alumnae by building a platform which promotes women supporting other women in being their best personal and professional self.

In the future, I hope to produce an entire album and get signed to a label so that I can have a larger platform. I hope to one day (in the near future) be a key component in the Western and Eastern music industry landscape and be a pioneer for diverse artists and sounds. Eventually, I hope to expand my influence from my music into directly helping improve certain issues on a global scale. For example,  I hope to start worldwide food organizations for improved food distribution. The world produces enough food to sustain everyone, yet millions starve every year.  Why does it have to be this way? I have heard we produce enough to sustain 10 billion lives which is far greater than the current world population of 7.6 billion.

What do you think about Cybèle’s song and musical vision? We definitely are in awe. Share your thoughts via tweet @CelebMix.

Written by Ayushi

Hi! I am Ayushi from India. The only thing that is consistent about me is my passion for writing and reading. Weaving words to form a story is the best thing I know and the only thing I want to do.
"Writer by nature is a dreamer, a conscious dreamer."
-Carson McCullers

If you want, you can follow me on Twitter using the handle @ayushidelhi1996