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Interview with Lemzi
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
Music is an energy thing. It gives and requires energy, whether it feels natural or high pressure, it's something special and visceral. I knew I loved music from around the age of 8 and specifically rap/hip-hop music from 9/10 years old when certain songs come on radio, at family parties or MTV. This started as an appreciation at first but became emulation and now is the centre point of my career.
If I wasn't doing music, I'd probably try writing scripts, books or comics (which I might still do!) but either way, something that allows me to creatively express
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
My 2 favourite solo hobbies are long nature walks and going to the cinema. I think both of them allow me to feel like I have time, whether that's time to zone into certain ideas/feelings or just time to spend on myself. Outside of that, I'm into football a lot, whether that's going to Spurs matches, chatting with people about it or even getting lost online with videos.
How long have you been making music?
I've been writing lyrics since about 10 years old. Then at 12, when I was really into grime, I used to listen to the sets on Rinse, Deja Vu, Kiss etc and try and write along with the mcs that were on the radio. This evolved into writing lyrics, poetry and later on, whole songs.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
I'm from Leytonstone, that is my home, E-1-1 yeah that's the postcode...I'm from a part of East London that played a key role in both my personal growth and also the legacy of grime music. Lord of the Mics was recorded in Leytonstone and a lot of the top MCs were from local areas like Tower Hamlets and Newham. This really left an impression on me and got me writing, dressing and speaking differently at the time. Everything was 140 bpm, everything became grime. But things have changed a lot since then, since I found my own voice and identity more.
Tell me about your most memorable shows, if you haven’t played live what is your vision for a live show?
Ah my last headline show is still my favourite show to date. Actually I've got 2, my last headline show in RichMix (Jan 2019) and Outlook Festival (2019).
My headline show was like a coming-of-age moment for me. I'd released my album, Leki, not too long before and there'd been some good press leading up to the day. I'd been running events called "Hidden Gems LIVE" for a while before and chose to headline this one myself. I'd rehearsed for weeks, brought together a dope assortment of artists and on the day, we had over 250 people rocking out!
Outlook 2019 was a testament to highs and lows. My DJ, Hype Hyphen, and I were booked for the Friday afternoon on the beach but on that day, God sent a mad storm that shut down the whole festival for hours. We missed our slot and it looked like we weren't going to perform until around 1am Sunday morning when Grime Originals grabbed my DJ, got us on a stage and handed us a mic. From there we just did shellers in front of 2000 people having a great night
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
Funnily enough I don't have a favourite spot, Jazz Cafe is a good one, but I think there's loads around London and the UK that I've enjoyed. I want to do Late Night with Jools Holland, perform in Union Chapel, Madison Square Garden and one of the London based stadiums
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Lets get Nas, Kendrick, J. Cole, Simz, Kano, PJ Morton, Sir and Snoh Aalegra to start. Then I'll have some of my people; Ferns, Monifé, Hayreezy, Sharna Cane, Eklipse etc. My festival would be lit
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into making music and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
Make sure you genuinely love this. It's all on you. Don't apply too much pressure to yourself for that but when it comes, remember you do this because it genuinely helps or pushes you in life. It's an industry where loads of people's opinions are there regardless of if they're welcomed, so also be ready for that. Surround yourself with love to remind yourself why you're doing it
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
Impossible to answer...each song has a reason and showcases different things about me and different stages of my life, it's all important for me.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
"W.O.D.A.T." is definitely up there, but bringing "That's the Code" to life is always a vibe. Depending on the environment, certain songs work really well as well, like "The Slump" in more intimate settings. I'm looking forward to trying some of the newer music from "Outliers" though, new ideas, new vibes and new genres.
What is your creative process, and what inspires you to write your music?
I get inspired by creativity; other (especially new) music, art, films etc. Real greatness, it triggers something in me, even if it's just a concept or a word or a line for later reference. And my creative process has evolved overtime, I used to just write lyrics and words and then later find a way to fit it to the music. Then I completely flipped it and allowed music to lead, writing lyrics that felt like they fit the instrumentals I had. Now, I feel I've got a bit of a balance as I've been doing a lot of free-writing again but it's like a blend of spoken word and rap. Like, I define myself as a Soul artist who raps, so my approach is quite freeing.
Do you have messages that you like to get across in your music, if so please tell me about them?
Mainly healing. I have a lot of messages, concepts and styles that I put into my music but the fundamental is that I need to feel it and it reflects something about me; healing, growing, creative expression, emotional outlet and more. I used to include politics more, it's still there, but probably to a lesser extent that it used to be.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
"Outliers - A Creative Project by Lemzi" out NOW. My free headline show, "This One's On The House" is on Wednesday 5th April, I'd love to see as many of you there as possible. After all of this, I'm looking forward to a tiny break to recalibrate and celebrate the efforts of the last 6 months, then let's see what's next. I would like to do a few festivals and a big headline show by the end of the year too
How can your fans best keep up to date with you, any socials you want people to check out?
My website is the best place! Subscribe to www.lemzi.com and follow my Spotify. But if you like socials, I'm @lemziartist on Insta and TikTok