Originally published on TheDrop.fm.
Newcomer Scotty Rebel admits she grew up fast. On a July day filled with grey skies, the 21-year-old singer sits back on an orange chair in the Def Jam offices in New York City, wearing a graphic T-shirt, camouflage pants, red boots and a black fitted hat over her waist-length black hair. She tells a story of rising up in New York City that is equal parts hardship and good fortune.
“I grew up in the Bronx. If you know anything about the Bronx, you know it’s crazy. It’s a battlefield,” the Soundview native tells TheDrop.fm. “Dad was there, but not really there. Mom was always working, so you know it leaves a lot of room for error.”
In the midst of the chaos in her neighborhood, Scotty was still able to hear her calling in music. Her father played the piano and guitar. “He threw away his dream so I definitely wanted to push hard as I could to make my dreams a reality,” she shares.
As with many artists, her musical tastes started at home. Scotty says her parent’s eclectic playlists rubbed off on her. She names Janet Jackson, Gwen Stefani, Marilyn Manson, Kelis, Brandy, Michael Jackson, Prince, A-ha and the Arrhythmics as some of her influences.
Soon, the songbird began exploring her own music in middle school and joined the choir after two tryouts — the first time she remembered “shaking like a ghost.” But it wasn’t long before the young woman born Gail Scott was starring in leading roles.
“For as long as I could remember I always wanted to be on stage — bright lights, glitter, shoulder pads, glamor. I knew exactly what I wanted to do and I had to work hard to get there,” Scotty admits.
As a teenager, she started recording with local rappers and posted her music on MySpace. One day, singer Lloydhit her up and she later moved to Atlanta where she began working with RedZone Entertainment and Tricky Stewart. A five-song demo led to her signing with Motown in 2010.
Although the young songstress felt excited to have people believe in her, she also felt like she was missing out on normal teenager experiences after dropping out of high school to pursue music. She looks forward to going back and getting a tutor.
“I stayed inside of the studio so much that it barely ever gave me any time to be a kid, because I was always traveling. I was always in Atlanta and my friends were in New York,” she states. “I’m going to the studio every day; all these old heads. They can’t relate to me. So it left a lot of room for loneliness growing up. But I worked and I did what I had to be where I needed to be.”
Even after being signed at 18, the struggle was far from over. Once Sylvia Rhone stepped down as president of Motown in 2011, Scotty’s place at the label was up in the air. “Around that whole period of time it was just nothing; a teenage wasteland. That’s what it felt like,” she says. “I didn’t know if I was going to have a record deal or not. Producers in L.A. barely wanted to work with me because they’re thinking, no budget, no work.”
But Scotty bounced back and even with no income, found a way to make music while sleeping at a friend’s house. “I’m from New York. We know how to make a way,” she explains matter-of-factly.
She also opens up about working with Ne-Yo, who pinpointed her “s—-talking” personality and came up with “a crazy idea” for a track to match it.
“[I] have a song called ‘Lesbian.’ It’s basically telling my partner that he acts like a bitch sometimes. You act like a bitch so much that I feel like I’m in a relationship with a girl. You got me feeling like a lesbian,” Scotty discloses.
She says she’s smack dab in the middle of finishing her debut album, which she hopes will drop in early 2014. Thus far, she mentions Rico Love and Planet VI (formerly known as Rock City) are part of the project.
The record will supply the soundtrack to love and growing up from the voice of a strong, independent young lady, Scotty says. And the sound will be an eclectic body of work with up-tempo and mid-tempo songs that are a mix of pop and urban. “You can’t put me in a box,” she declares.
Besides the music, Scotty reveals an obsession that’s cost her thousands of dollars — one she’s a little embarrassed about. “I own $10,000 worth of makeup, which sounds absurd. I have an addiction,” she admits. The raven-haired chanteuse adds that her other passions of art and fashion, especially editorials, play into her hang-up.
All in all as a rookie, Scotty wants to bring some new “oomph” to the game. “I feel like we have a lot of repetitive stuff,” she continues, “We need new faces and I’m definitely going to bring that to the table.” Be prepared to be served.