How Chi Virgo became the picture of confidence

“When I first started making music, I was making music people would enjoy listening to. Now it’s for me.”

“I’ve recently stopped caring.”

In the world of the Nigerian youth’s popular culture, the summer of 2020 was characterised by Mowalola supremacy. Appointed in late June as the Design Director for Kanye West’s Yeezy Gap collaboration, Mowalola became the first (and so far, only) non-musician to cover a NATIVE print issue. She launched her website with the highly coveted bundle bags (which sold out in two minutes!??!) and earned twitter infamy with her witty laid-back retorts to Diet Prada and other haters crawling out the woodwork. Amidst all these new ventures – in the middle of a pandemic, no less – Mowalola remained consistent with her designer duties, dropping an SS20 collection on SSENSE, designing exclusive T-Shirts for Homecoming’s 2020 digital edition and featuring in i-D Magazine’s ‘The Faith In Chaos’ issue with her nude campaign for the instant sell-out bundle bag. This is where I first came across Chi Virgo.

Flaunting her flexibility, serving sexy “but in a reserved sort of way,” Chi Virgo’s first ever editorial campaign has since gone on to yield several lucrative, high profile modelling opportunities, including a Valentino spread in Dazed Korea. For Chi, “never Chai” (also not pronounced “shy”), the platform and the exposure the i-D feature offered was a big deal, but the main influence her first stint with Mowalola had was the boost in confidence the nude shoot gave her. As we sit over mugs of tea in her North London flat later on in the year, Chi explains her hype, revealing, “I never got asked to do editorials – like ever. So being asked to do one of my first ever editorials with Mowa, and such a good campaign – it was sick!”


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Modelling was an important part of Chi Virgo’s childhood, as was her second passion and primary career path, music. Born in Lagos Nigeria, Chi shuffled between audience-less catwalks in her mother’s heels and live performances in front of her mother’s friends. Modelling was the first of Chi’s childhood passions to bear fruit, she was given the opportunity to live out her modelling fantasies at the age of 15, starring in an e-commerce shoot for a local brand in her hometown, Cheltenham. Unfortunately, obsessed as she was with modelling, the ruthless industry that birthed brutal reality TV shows such as Chi’s favourite, America’s Next Top Model or Project Runway or The Face – where no episode passed without tears – had no difficulty discouraging Chi, because of her weight: “I was always told that I was too big, everywhere I’d send my photos into, especially back in the day when they’d actually say that shit to you.”

A certified model now, Chi’s transition from late bloomer to coveted muse in modelling is a similar progression to her journey through music. Upon moving to England, Chi had a few bad experiences sharing her voice that deflated her confidence, and it didn’t help that Chi had become significantly more shy since she left Apapa. “I remember when I was like 12, I put a video of myself singing “Take A Bow” by Rihanna on YouTube, and the kids at school laughed at me for so long. I was like, ‘I’m never doing this again.’” Another experience singing a solo in the school Gospel Choir in front of a crowd of roughly 1,000 – and choking “so badly” – sealed it for Chi, “I was never singing again.”

Last November Chi Virgo released her debut EP, ‘Under The Moon’, a four-track project comprised of songs she had written and recorded in the early stages of her music-making career. A perfectionist in her endeavours, Chi Virgo spent months, if not years, labouring on “Bye Bye”, “Bored”, “Trip” and “On To The Next” to achieve the impossible standard. Acknowledging that she “should have just like, put [them] out and then make more and put [those] out but like instead I’ve wasted so much time perfecting, but nothing can actually ever really be perfect,” the time she spent on the music was well worth it. Just 11 minutes, ‘Under The Moon’ leaves listeners wanting more, but it’s condensed nature ensures that each song never leaves listeners’ heads. Messing around with genres, styles, flows and subjects, ‘Under The Moon’ is a comprehensive introduction to Chi Virgo’s talents, one that has audiences and music-makers alike, keen to explore whichever soundscapes Chi Virgo traverses next.

A month ago, we were treated to a glimpse into a more recent timeline in Chi’s journey, with the intimate loosie, “Wave”. Slurred in her vocal and dance deliveries, “Wave” is soft-spoken melody detailing Chi’s halcyon trip. Effortless, easy-going and released to the public so casually, it is hard to imagine that the Chi Virgo responsible for “Wave” is the same shy teenager who vowed never to sing publicly again. But arriving into tertiary education, it was during her time at Loughborough University that Chi Virgo began to hone her skills as a songwriter, and where she got her first inklings that she would one day become a singer.

“Lowkey, Mabel inspired me,” Chi laughs, realising that seeing a young woman making distinctive music and succeeding in the industry, despite the harsh odds Chi Virgo herself had experienced with modelling, was the encouragement she needed to settle on her career of choice – singing – at the time. Though her mother was supportive of her taking her time to figure things out post-uni, destiny has a different plan, which landed Chi in an enviable 9-5 at Amazon, “and I hated it. After the first month, I was ready to leave.”

Moving to London for the “territory manager, account manager, something like that,” job at Amazon, Chi was a fish out of water in the crowded yet lonely capital city. With very few friends, in a corporate job that wasn’t for her, Chi tells me she was “very unconfident when I first came here,” before reminding me that her “confidence has definitely grown a lot.” In Chi Virgo’s origin story, her move to London was the catalyst that set her powers in motion. Whilst Amazon might not have been the place for her, reaching that low point in her life was the springboard to her catapulting into herself, into the picture of beauty and confidence that we know and love today. “I think Amazon made me not care about my image so much, which was nice, for sure.” Toning down on the make-up – overcoming her eyebrow insecurity, thanks to Bella Hadid who reminded her that thin eyebrows were indeed fashion (this was 2015-17 when dark, thick brows were all the rave) – Chi Virgo grew confident in her natural beauty, a boost that has been heightened by her healthy lifestyle adjustment, which sees her practising veganism (to the best of her abilities; “I still sometimes dabble in a bit of cheese”).

“I’m just happy that I’m healthier”

She assures me that she never considered herself fat, but had always wanted to lose weight – 2020 was the perfect year for such change. Her healthier lifestyle included long walks during lockdown, which not only assisted her weight loss but also inspired a new mode of writing for the night owl. Waking up from nights out with five new notes of different songs she had come up with, working best under the moon (hence the name of her EP), COVID-19’s effect on clubbing left Chi Virgo with a painful writer’s block, that only hours of exercise could remedy. Now fully back into her step, over the Christmas break Chi Virgo made her great return home, where (unreleased) collaborations with the likes of Deto Black, Genio Bambino, Forevatired, and the other extraordinary talents in that orbit, drew out Chi’s dexterity resulting in her delivering some of the most bewitching vocal performances I’ve been fortunate enough to hear.


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Chi Virgo has been blossoming into herself since 2018’s last quarter, when she officially left her role at Amazon. The road to becoming one’s own is long, and arguably never ending, but Chi has made substantial headway, in all walks of her life. “I’ve recently stopped caring. Over the past few months, I’ve really learned to not [care],” she tells me, happy that she’s overcome one of her biggest adversaries yet. Now bent on putting herself and her needs first, Chi Virgo is no longer seeking industry attention, but in fact is now selective about only shooting editorials for designers she actually likes. Though she’s still has “really bad stage fright” (fortunately live shows are few and far between), Chi Virgo doesn’t mind performing recorded songs alone to a camera and uploading it onto YouTube – most of her music videos are the intimate singalongs (now to her own songs) she was mocked for all those years back. Singer/Songwriter and model in between, the confidence she found on her way, that she so often references during our couple of hours together, is Chi Virgo’s most alluring asset; and her promise that it will always manifest in her music is why you just can’t get enough.

“When I first started making music, I wasn’t necessarily making music for me, I was making music people would enjoy listening to. Now I’m like, ‘No.’ Now it’s for me.”

Featured Image Credits: Amy Peskett