If you have the pleasure of following Little Simz on Instagram, then you’ll know that right now the London rapper is living her best life. One minute she’s on a stage in Brazil with Gorillaz, screaming the lyrics of their collaboration, ‘Garage Palace’, to crowds that go as far as the eye can see. The next moment she’s sitting at a production desk in a Los Angeles studio, playing her unreleased new material to a close group of friends.
Somehow, in the midst of all that, she also found time to create an exclusive collaboration with New Era titled THE AGE 101, after her independent record label of the same name. We caught up with her to chat about what inspired her design for the new snapback range, and how her new album is shaping up.
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Hey Little Simz. So, where are you now?
I'm in LA, it’s like a second home to me. I'm just working on new stuff, doing meetings, and doing my rounds. But also just living my best life. I just finished a South American tour with Gorillaz, so I'm taking some time to just unwind a bit.
Are you able to talk about the new record?
Well… What do you wanna know?
Is there a theme or concept?
I wouldn't say it's as conceptual as my last album, but it’s much more personal. Not that my last record wasn't personal, but it was to do with my work life and career. Whereas this dives into my personal life. I've touched on that here and there in other songs, but I think this record captures it more and gives people an insight.
What made you want to go there?
I think through just understanding growth and understanding that in order to grow I need to be uncomfortable. It's the evolution of me. I think artists can get complacent sometimes in thriving at something and then just sticking at that. They don't mind not progressing. That's fine if that works for them, but I'm not that person. I always want to be able to grow in all aspects of the word, in music, in me as a person. So I guess this was what I had to do in order to grow. I needed to tap into this personal element of myself.
How do you decide how personal to go with the lyrics?
I'm working with people that allow you to be as vulnerable as possible and allow you to make mistakes. Because it is uncomfortable and it will be even more so when I've put it out there for everyone to hear. There is a choice in how personal I wanna get and how much I wanna let people in. But overall it's for me man – making this record felt like an emotional cleanse.
Your South American tour with Gorillaz has looked crazy.
Yeah touring with them was one of the best experiences I've had. Playing to that many people is insane, and doing it with a legendary act like them adds to it for sure. Damon [Albarn] is a genius. I think the way his mind works is just out of this world for me. It's just so advanced and ahead, but yet so simple. I think people sometimes think music is so complex, but he makes it seem so simple and about feeling and emotion. He applies that to everything he does, making music that has feeling, vibe and energy. I think I've always known that, but seeing someone else apply it made me realise it even more.
A lot of that touring came off the back of your festival at the Roundhouse, right?
Yeah, Welcome to Wonderland – that was wicked. I've done it for two years now. It's a festival I curate with acts from around the world, all hand-picked by myself and my team. It is something I wanted to do just for London. I did it for us, as a people. I love playing in my own city and having a majority female line up was important too.
What inspired the design of your New Era collaboration, THE AGE 101?
The stick men 101 logo harkens back to a simple parietal art (cave drawings), inspired by the logo of my record label and is the visualisation of the Age 101 tribe; where everyone is different and individual (and celebrated for being different) but part of one bigger entity / tribe / culture. One of One / 101. It was an idea I had in my head and asked my friend to draw. Then I put it on the hat. Fun fact; I even got that design tattooed on my skin.
Catch Little Simz LIVE in Europe for #ThePoisonIvyTour: http://littlesimz.co/#tour
SHOP LITTLE SIMZ' LOOK
Designed in collaboration with Little Simz, this on-trend adjustable 9TWENTY cap features a faux suede crown and satin lining for a luxurious finish. It’s the only accessory you need this season.
Support the Chicago Bulls with a zip up hoodie from the NBA Apparel range. This camouflage patterned hoodie has the Bull’s logo screen printed on the left of the chest. Wear it to the game or keep warm and comfortable at home.