Contemporary R&B singer and Brooklyn native, Justine Skye, is the first to kick off the campaign on April 13 with a soft purple iridescent highlight powder. “I love to glow and it's important for me to have a good highlighter to brighten up,” Skye tells Billboard. For Skye, who is currently working on a VH1 Behind The Music inspired video tied to her EP 8 Ounces, the MAC visuals are ways to connect with her fans. "I just hit a million [on Instagram] and this is a good way to show all of my followers what I've been working on," Skye says.
On May 25, British dark-pop singer Dua Lipa, who has collaborated with Martin Garrix and toured with Troye Sivan, will be releasing a clear, Creamsheen Lipglass with flecks of iridescent pearl glitter. “I instantly knew what I wanted because I always wear gloss," the singer said, adding that because it's difficult to find a nice gloss with chunks of glitter and pearl, she decided to make her own.
Closing out the collection on June 29, is K-Pop star Lee Hi, who after taking a three-year hiatus is back on the scene with upcoming music and a deep red matte lipstick ($17; maccosmetics.com), inspired by the reds she wears every day. "I wanted to make a red lipstick that is on-trend and wearable, and I wanted the color to be provocative, yet very feminine and girly."
For MAC, partnering with a rising crop of fresh, young talent is a mutually beneficial win. "It feels like a great thing to be able to support artists who are breaking through but aren’t necessarily at the top top, to push them forward," MAC Senior VP and Creative Director James Gager previously told Billboard. "We’ve always done that sort of thing with fashion designers, and to me, it’s most interesting to introduce these artists," Gager, who has helped launch MAC collaborations with artists Halsey, Tinashe, Dej Loaf and Jillian Hervey of Lion Babe ,said.
Billboard spoke to all three of Future Forward artists to discuss the upcoming launch, their favorite products and how makeup enhances their musical identity.
Out of all the singers in the Future Forward campaign, you’re the only one who chose a face product. What made you want to collaborate on the Iridescent Powder?
Well, I love using highlighters and wanted to do something sparkly and purple to represent me and my purple hair. The purple shimmer can be used to create a futuristic look or a 90s look, depending on what you want. Personally, I use the iridescent powder as a highlighter on my cheekbones.
Why did you dye your hair purple?
Growing up, it was always a huge battle with my mom to let me color my hair or add extensions. After always begging her, she finally let me dye it, and at first I just had subtle shades of purple on the tips. Each time I would come home from the hair salon, the purple would intensify. Now, it’s a part of my identity, a comfort zone for me. I never thought of changing it all; and if I change my hair color, I'll probably look in the mirror and think ‘who is this? [Laughs.]
As an artist, you get to express yourself through music. How do you use fashion and makeup as a creative way to express who you are?
Well, makeup and fashion are a very blatant way of expressing who you are because it’s the first thing people see. With music, it’s more personal, where people really are trying to get into your head and learn about who you are. As artists, we have the luxury of experimenting with extra crazy things, but I feel like my aesthetic is very street-style and high-low. If I'm going to a fancy event, I try to be princess-like. For the most part, I'm very into sweatpants and cute tops from streetwear brands like Supreme and Palace for a 90's tomboy vibe.
Tell us about your experience working with The-Dream on your EP '8 Ounces.'
Oh, it was magical. I heard that The-Dream wanted to work with me, and obviously, I want to work with him, but I was shocked because I'm a new artist. When I got into the studio, he became family to me and I learned a lot of personal and music lessons from him.
What lessons did he share with you?
We were talking about Roc Nation chains that are given to a lot of artists signed to the label, and I didn't get one yet. And he was like yeah, of course, you didn't get one yet you didn't earn it yet and did anything to deserve it. That's where people go wrong in the music industry; they get all these fancy things and think that they deserve them, but they really haven't done anything to earn them yet. The day I do get my Roc Nation chain is going to be so much more valuable than if they gave it to me the day I signed. You have to earn it.
Walk us through the collaborative process for your new lip product.
It was a trial and error with selecting different color options, but it was exciting. Also when you don’t have on any makeup, or you just have on a tiny bit of mascara, a glitter gloss makes it seem like you actually made an effort. The clear gloss with glitter has a wet look and is fun, playful and fresh. It accentuates the color of your lips, whatever they are.
Does your glamorous-meets-tomboy aesthetic play into your collaboration with MAC?
Yeah absolutely. I love the juxtaposition of glamor and tomboy because that's exactly what makes me comfortable. You totally got it right. The gloss is clear because I didn’t want to have a dark color that’s too "in your face", but then the glitter is the glamor, which I always wear.
How did growing up in England and Kosovo shape your approach to beauty?
I was so young (11-years-old) when I moved to Kosovo, and you start school later there. Everybody in my class wore a lot of makeup, and I got a bit carried away and used too much. Now, I take it down a notch and prefer a really simple look.
You love Nelly Furtado and Pink. What is it about them that you're drawn to?
I love their honesty. It's essentially pop, but it’s very particular, honest and genuine to them. You feel like you know a part of their life when you hear their songs. And I love Pink's hair. I've never permanently dyed my hair before, and if I were as ballsy as her I totally would. But because of her, I get color sprays and change my hair colors with those.
How has your beauty philosophy shifted since your first experience wearing makeup?
When I first started to use makeup at 15, I would imitate my mom and older sister. However, I often wore the wrong foundation shade, ugly lip colors and had very unwieldy brows. I think experimenting with makeup early on is important because you can figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. The process of finding the right colors and how to wear them is really fun. On stage, I enjoy vivid color lips like purple or red and glitter on my eyes, but in daily life, I keep my look more natural.
What role does makeup play in representing who you are as an artist?
I always consider how it [makeup] looks from different angles, under the intense lighting on stage and if it works with my outfit. The audience resonates with artists by listening to their music, but they also find inspiration by watching an artist’s music videos and performances. I use different makeup looks to complement my new songs.
Tell us about your everyday makeup routine.
After prepping my skin, I use foundation and cover dark spots with concealer, then use a brush for shading powder. For my eyebrows, I use a pencil to fill them in and set with a clear brow gel. Then I contour the nose with very light shading color and put on the blush, which will always match my dress color. To blur the edge of my lip line, I use the leftover foundation from my face puff. Sometimes I put on MAC’s Lightscapade Highlighter on the edge of my nose, upper cheek, chin and philtrum (Cupid's bow) and add a gloss to make my lips look full and moisturized.
Last year you released your sophomore project Seoulite which has a more mature sound compared to your solo debut album. Now that it’s 2017, what can your fans look forward to next?
2016 was a great year. Releasing Seoulite three years after my debut album showed my musical leap. For 2017, I am working on something that I can’t reveal as of yet, however, my fans can know that I will continue doing the producing and songwriting.