Simi: The New Face Of Alternative Music
The gorgeous diva walked into Kola Oshalusi’s studio for Insigna Media looking dapper in her blue strap jeans with a black pair of shirt and blue snickers. Although she looked stressed and pale due to the fact that she was sick, she gathered enough strength to be at the shoot. She quietly sat for her make-over while Jumoke (Eyesome Beauty) worked magic on her pretty face. The shoot started even before the photographer Kola picked up his camera and created a happy scene where Simi felt comfortable. Simi wrote her very first tune at the age of 10 and started singing and dancing in her early teens.
The struggle as an artist and trying to gain the attention of the public has not been an easy journey for Simi. She launched her debut album in 2008 which was produced by the talented Samklef. She was officially signed to X3M Music in 2013 where she worked on a genius direction to her sound, style, and music in its entirety. The upcoming diva is not only hardworking, beautiful and talented but also a fashion lover and a glamorous model.
Simi begins by introducing herself.
“My name is Simileye mostly known as Simi, I am a singer and a song writer signed to X3M Music.”
Contrary to popular belief, Simi re-establishes the fact that she is not a new face on the block, she has been around for a while. Describing her challenges as an upcoming artist Simi says.
“I started singing gospel, I started professionally singing in 2008, but I had a bunch of songs that made me. I had some challenges because it is not easy to finance music. Getting funds and also getting people to pay attention, it is very easy to give up but you just have to keep your head up.”
As is seen with so many artists who start out with a certain genre of music and switch to another to become mainstream not to be biased as an artist but to be diverse, she explains how her career not only as a musician but an artist in every sense affected the decision to do more. In her own words, she says.
“Music became more than that for me, it became an art I started to write and think differently, it became a broader zone and I wanted to explore that. Switching was not the easiest thing to do because all I knew before then was gospel but with time and practice, I started to master music as an art.”
Her recent songs have shown that her genre is certainly different from what the Nigerian market is used to. Like most artists, Simi is proud of her genre of music as she describes it as afro-pop and afro soul. Expatiating further she says.
“I am an afro-pop and afro-soul singer; I try to blend a lot of sounds using different instruments. I do not think people do it the way that I do it. I am not saying I am better than anyone, but I am different which stands out.”
A lot of Simi’s music shows her love for African designers and this is majorly inspired by her love for colours and the way African prints make these colours stand out. She also doesn’t deny the fact that she is trying to adopt the African style as part of her identity. Simi writes all of her song and her inspiration is realistic.
“Real life experiences mostly inspire me to write my lyrics, I see myself as a story teller. I feel like when people can relate to you more, they are more drawn to the song. It is something they have experienced or someone they know experienced. I am inspired by the things around, things I see people doing, people saying or the things that have happened to me.”
Her introduction into mainstream music was with her hit single “Jamb Question”. Jamb question in this sense means stupid and irrelevant questions to the situation at hand. This certainly agrees with the songstress and the song writer drawing her inspiration from real life experiences. According to her, for this song her inspiration was drawn from not just her experience but the experience of the average Nigerian girl on the street.
“An average Nigerian girl has been asked jamb question at least five times in her life by some guy. You just walk on the street and you a guy would walk up to you and instead of him to tell you he is interested in you, he will, first of all, ask you all sorts of unnecessary and weird questions. I exaggerated a little bit because no one has ever asked if my dad plays football but they do ask a lot of silly questions.”
Music isn’t the end game for Simi, she has already ventured into song writing and sound engineering. When asked if she would venture into other fields in music, she says.
“I try not to do too much because it gets over me; I have to make and push my music and also mix an artist’s song. Managing the time is really terrible and overwhelming.”
The music industry in Nigeria is arguably the fastest growing sector in the entertainment industry, it is highly saturated and there is a whole lot of identity crisis when it comes to their art and personalities. Simi says.
“I plan to stand out by being me. I have a great personality; I like to be myself as much as possible. I do not try to impress anyone or try to please people. Even if people criticize me as long as I am happy, I am good.”
There are two things we didn’t know about Simi before this interview. First of all, she is a sound engineer. Secondly, she is honest and real. What you see is what you get. Lies also make her uncomfortable. Although she has successfully broken into the market, she is working hard on her album which is coming out very soon this year. She is also working on a project with her recent collaborator Falz. Speaking on her collaborations with Falz, she describes the experience as fun.
“He is my really good friend so it is always exciting getting to the studio to get the work done. When we do music together, our fans like it so we make the most of it. Falz is crazy, we have a lot of things in common we joke about. I am a joker, I play a lot. I fuse a lot of humour in my song and he does the same so it is very easy for us to merge and make material that people can relate with. We have a connection in our song and our styles; we get along pretty well so it is easy for us to get the work done.”
Her advice to struggling upcoming artists is simple.
“Work hard, talent is like 10 percent of what is going to get you to fulfil your dreams, I have seen a lot of amazing singers that are still hustling. It is not all about talent, you have to own your skills and be the best at what you do because people are paying more attention to the music industry now than before. Do not get tired, always stay hungry.”
Photography: Kola Oshalusi
Styling: Henri Uduku
Makeup: Jumoke Tychus
Outer jacket – Tangerine Label Camisole- Stylists source
Shorts – Henri Uduku
Sweatshirt – Orange Culture
Vintage Shirt: VintageMuse (@_vintagemuse)
Jeans and shoes: Stylists source