TrueMendous calls her debut album the ‘best body of work’ she’s ever produced, and she is eager for fans to listen to it. Check it out here.
‘Misdiagnosis of Chyvonne Johnson’, released April 1st, is the Birmingham star’s attempt to step up following a trail of EPs and mixtapes.
“I’d never created an album before,” she said. “I had to distinguish it from previous bodies of work.
“When I listen to it from start to finish as a body of work, I feel like it’s stronger than anything I’ve made thus far.
“Everything is on another tier compared to previous material. All the elements of it made it better”.
This goes beyond the music, whether it’s the visuals accompanying some of the new tracks, or the album artwork by Father of Cain, which also features on new merch.
Despite final mixes last summer, and completing the writing process a few months before that, it was a benefit to sit on the project and figure how to execute it.
TrueMendous said: “It is irritating to sit on music but it just makes me want to release it that much more. It gets me more excited for the release of it.
“But it’s good at the same time because of the thought process behind the music videos, and where this could land.”
She also hailed the production team behind the album, a mixture of people from Birmingham, and from her label High Focus.
TrueMendous said: “It’s nice to have a team around you to push you and support you and offering you a platform to get your voice heard, but not to the point it’s toxic or claustrophobic.”
Named after herself, as a play on the album title by one of her favourite storytellers Lauryn Hill, there are high expectations for ‘Misdiagnosis of Chyvonne Johnson’ following the success of her first High Focus release, March 2020’s ‘HUH?’ EP.
She admits the EP did ‘really well’, and experienced a domino effect when tracks took on a life of their own. First Adidas used the beat of ‘Sweetheart’ on one of their campaigns, while ‘Hmm’ featured on the ‘FIFA 21’ soundtrack.
“It was very unexpected because prior to that, I hadn’t landed a sync deal before,” she said. You may also have noticed her in the lead role in Pepsi Max’s advert last Christmas, or separately in McVities adverts. “It kind of all came back-to-back.”
This time around, her ambitions include syncs in films. “‘Cause A Scene’, which has an animated music video, would be really sick in a mad fighting scene,” she said.
That track is the first of 17 on a versatile record which incorporates elements of rap, R&B, and pop. “I’m a bit of a chameleon, I like adapting to different sounds,” she said.
Discarding some tracks from a project for the first time, the end result is a mixture that ranges from ‘Selfish Behaviour’, which is over nine minutes long, to one song which is just 99 seconds in length. “I don’t really pre-plan how long or short something is, it just feels right,” she said. “‘You Don’t Wanna’, the one that’s really short, the actual beat was that length. Where I ended the lyric and where the beat ended, I thought it was a sick close.”
The variety keeps listeners hooked, and will appeal to those interested in longer stories or shorter songs. She said: “If you’re a good enough artist, it doesn’t matter how long the song is. If Drake put out a 30-minute song, do you think people would only listen to two or three minutes of it?”
TrueMendous’s powerful and poetic words combine her own experiences with situations from friends and documentaries. It creates a unique voice, full of heart and honesty.
“My older material all used to be story based,” she said. “Before it was just me writing other people’s stories, voicing it through myself as a narrator. It’s only over the last two years I’ve removed myself as a storyteller sometimes.”
The most personal track is the last one, ‘Yvonne’s Daughter’. For someone who admits ‘I don’t reveal anything about anything’, it’s a direct exploration of her relationship with her mum.
Her family ties keep her connected to Birmingham, although she splits her time with work in London.
“Birmingham’s a lot slower than London is,” she said. “Birmingham lacks the infrastructure. It’s not talent that it lacks, it just needs to be seen and to be heard.
“In London, there’s loads of events, labels, A&Rs and stations. I come to Birmingham to slow down.”
That may not happen much with the album out and more projects lined up. Furthermore, for an artist where her language is critical, it’s interesting to hear her ambitions include shows in Asia.
She said: “I want to go to places where they don’t predominantly speak English, where there’s language barriers, but they know all the lyrics, or the melodies.
“More so than everything, I want the album to do well. I know how much effort went into it, and it’s a good body of work.”
With the album, it’s fair to say that hard work should be reciprocated, and she’s eager to see the feedback.
“I’m confident with it, I’m comfortable with it, so I’m looking forward to seeing people’s response to it.”
‘Misdiagnosis Of Chyvonne Johnson’ by TrueMendous is out now on High Focus Records