Next Wave #1165: Cristale

In association with Bed Head for Issue 127 of CLASH...

A few years deep in the game, Cristale could already be considered a young OG, but music wasn’t always a medium she took seriously. Poetry was her primary outlet until she started spitting on beats. The rest they say is history. “I wanted to be an architect,” she says. “I got my degree. Before that I wanted to be a footballer, I was playing for Crystal Palace. I let the cards fall where they may.” 

Hailing from Brixton, Cristale is a voice for the people. Through her songs she wants to “make sure that everyone feels their perspective is seen.” Early co-signs from the likes of Tiffany Calver and Charlie Sloth is something she greatly appreciated, but still keeps in mind that “people accept you when they’re ready. The reason it seems like I’ve been respected from the jump is because I’ve respected myself.”

The drill designation comes with its misconceptions, however. “People assume that I’ve been listening to drill my whole life,” she says. “I didn’t until 2019. The first drill artist I listened to was Poundz,” an anecdote that amuses her, having frequented youth centres with Brixton artists like M24. Cristale’s experimented with dancehall and references Lauryn Hill as an inspiration: “I can do dancehall, I can do drill, I can do hip-hop, I can sing and do R&B. I can do whatever.”

Appearing in the final season of Top Boy, the Daniel Kaluuya-directed The Kitchen, and playing a role in the forthcoming TV adaption of Candice Carty-Williams’ critically-acclaimed novel ‘Queenie’, Cristale is continually pursuing other creative endeavors in tandem with music. “[Acting] came to me and I never back down from a challenge. I low-key love acting more than I love music,” she shares coyly.

On the morning of this interview, Cristale was announced as a performer at the MOBO Awards ceremony. With so many spinning plates, how does she switch off? “I don’t. I’m always on the go. My mind is always active. There’s too much to do!” And the career achievement she’s most proud of? “The fact that I still have one.”

Finally, is a mixtape on the way? “I don’t feel like they want it bad enough. When you want it properly, shout me!”

The gauntlet has been laid. 

WHAT: Coming-of-age, angst-ridden rap

WHERE: Brixton, South London 

3 SONGS: ‘Antisocial’, ‘Roadents’, ‘Militant’

FACT: Cristale grew up on the reggae hits of Buju Banton and Tony Matterhorn

Words: Aaron Bishop

Photography: Bella Howard

Styling: Felicia Brown

Stylist Assistant: Idyllyn Frimpong

Creative Direction: Rob Meyers

Cristale wears a sweater by Acne Studios via mrporter.com. 

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