Behind the Music: Sixteen Records Interview Series: Interview with Imi

‘Being able to embody a version of myself that very few see can be quite cathartic and empowering.’

Describe your music style in no more than 5 words: 
Vibrant, dynamic, ethereal, majestic

Age? 24

Where are you from? My family is from Cornwall, but I spent 3 years growing up in the Netherlands when I was young, a few years studying in Surrey and for the past 6 years I have been based in Leeds.

Which instruments do you play? My main instrument is my voice, but I also play synthesisers and piano and often create instruments electronically out of weird and wonderful sounds I come across.

What has music enabled you to do? It has made me observe more. It’s quite easy to live life with blinkers on and without intention, become quite self-absorbed. By opening up my eyes, ears and mind, I’m able to absorb a much richer palette of possibilities that feeds not only into my work, but also to me as a person.

Where is your go-to place for writing new tracks? There’s a tension between a very organic, ethereal element and a more gritty, industrial undertone in my work. This stems from my divided time between two places, and feeling somewhat at home in both of them. My family home in Cornwall is immersed in nature. It’s a place to heal and to reconnect with many of the things that inspired me as a child. My life in Leeds is a much more real one, with harsher truths but also a more progressive mentality. My writing often takes place in the transition between these two spaces. A coming together of two ways of thinking.

Do you have any releases and/or performances coming up soon? My next show is the Sixteen Records Volume One Launch Party, Wednesday 23rd May, to celebrate the release of their first compilation which my track Monolith is featured on. I’m then supporting Team Picture at Brudenell Social Club on Friday 1st June and Pilbeam’s Noise Night supporting Shadowlark is at Oporto on Friday 1st August.

What has it been like getting signed to Sixteen Records? Since self-releasing my first single in December 2017, I’ve been met with so much support and enthusiasm for my work which I am really grateful for. Lotte got in touch with me just after Christmas offering a support slot for a show that Sixteen Records and Girls That Gig were co-hosting and later mentioned the exciting prospect of their first compilation album. I have since released my second single through Leeds community label bibliotek, who are similarly supporting new electronic acts. It’s great to be part of such communities, and it’s been really interesting listening to such a broad spectrum of work, most of which comes from Leeds.

Which other artists on the Sixteen Records roster do you know and have you worked with any before? I know of a few of the other artists, such as Dokkodo Sounds which is the new project from Thomas Trueman of Laminate Pet Animal and also a good friend of mine. I supported LELO’s single release show back in April and played my first show alongside Luna Pines in February and I have been working with Lotte to produce the track that’s going to be featured on the album. I met Jemma from Joule properly in April last year when we were both invited to be part of an experimental project in Scotland.

She is an absolutely incredible musician with many interesting projects including J Frisco and of course Joule, and somehow on top of all her other commitments, she agreed to work with me towards a performance for my last Masters recital. I hope collaborations will continue in the future with these musicians and more as I think there is a lot that can be learned from one another and some really exciting things can happen in often the most unexpected situations.

‘Building a network of people around you who genuinely care about what you do is indispensable’

How do you think being signed to a label will help you develop as an artist? Having someone else support and believe in you is incredibly helpful for any solo artist as it’s easy to get trapped inside your own head when you’re working on your own, so much to the point that nothing can come to fruition. I have struggled significantly in the past, and I know many others suffer from a lack of confidence too. Building a network of people around you who genuinely care about what you do is indispensable and it is something I really value and am appreciative for.

Do you prefer performing live or recording in a studio? I love the immediacy of performing live. Being able to embody a version of myself that very few see can be quite cathartic and empowering. On the other hand, the curiosity and experimentation that takes place in the studio can be hugely exciting. They are very different channels of creativity, and I think the two work hand in hand in balancing a more internal and external form of expression.

What is the most recent performance you did? It was supporting Let’s Eat Grandma at Belgrave Music Hall & Canteen, which was amazing and totally unexpected. After watching them on Jools Holland I was really intrigued by them and their seemingly disparate musical influences. It felt very dynamic and quite random at times, but I love hearing strange combinations of things that have a total disregard for convention. It’s refreshing to hear two young women creating such curiously intelligent music.

Who are your inspirations? Björk, Erik Satie, Brian Eno, John Cage, Thom Yorke, Fever Ray, David Bowie

What is the point of music? I think everyone has different uses for music which I think will naturally affect how they perceive the point in it, but at its core, I think it is a way of interpreting the world around us. Just like painting or writing, it is an outlet to express ourselves and to communicate that with others.

To keep up to date with Imi, follow her on Facebook and Instagram. You can also listen Imi’s music on Soundcloud, Apple Music and Spotify as well as watch her videos on YouTube

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