'I’ll never stop trying to look for different ways to make things cool, interesting and exciting'
On December 16 2016, just as the majority of the music industry swept their leftover mince pies into the bin and switched on their Out Of Office on for Christmas, Little Simz released an album. Unless you’re Michael Buble or Elvis’ estate, artists don’t tend to release music in December. It’s something about not getting any radio play in-between Slade and wrestling any shelf-space from Adele. But, Simbi Ajikawo had made a promise. Little Simz had told her fans that the follow-up to her 2015 debut LP ‘A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons’ would come out in 2016, and so she was simply keeping her word.
It’s just a small example of how Little Simz has carved out an ever-growing community based on free-communication and respect over the past couple of years. The north London artist’s story of independence has been well-trumpeted before: in her mid-teens, already making her own mixtapes, her attempts to enter the music industry via the traditional routes were consistently rebuffed. Since then, she’s turned that to her advantage; starting her own label, releasing her own music and booking her own TV appearances.
Now it’s at the point where Little Simz has curated her own festival. It was an event, held at London’s historic Roundhouse venue on Sunday 12 February, that encapsulates Simz’s desire to always do something different. She handpicked the performers for two stages (everything from all female jazz group Nerija to US rapper Mick Jenkins) while Mckay Felt, the illustrator responsible for her album artwork, created live art. It was much more than a standard show.
A few days before, while rehearsing for the event, Little Simz spoke to us about the reception for her most recent album, ‘Stillness In Wonderland’, where her drive as an independent artist comes from and her “genuine” friends in the industry.
L&Q: The last few years we’ve seen a lot more artists putting on their own festivals – everyone from Bon Iver to Drake – since you’re doing this, is that something you’d like to do more?
LS: For sure, definitely. I’m kind of just taking this one step at a time but this is something I definitely want to do again. But I have to get through this one first and see. I didn’t realise it was going to be this much work. It’s been so stressful, on top of actual real life stuff happening – travelling, trying to conduct a tour and trying put together a festival. There’s so much that goes into it that people will never know – it takes months of planning. Hopefully it’ll be worth it.