The Rise of London Soul
We caught up with Kimberly Anne, the next best thing on the London scene.
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In a small cafe in the centre of Kentish Town, we sat down for a lovely chat with Kimberly Anne. She’s been working on her upcoming EP, Liar, on the back of her time at performing arts school.
So Kimberly, tell us a little bit about how you came about your musical talents.
I started out mostly in music, though I used to write a lot of poetry, the little nerd that I was! There were loads of guys around who made music in their bedrooms, wannabe rappers from South London. You couldn’t stand on the corner without someone chatting to you about their music.
So I started to hang around with them, and eventually asked ‘can I sing on this one’ - I ended up being sort of a hip-hop choral singer for a long time. I’ve never had to hear myself rap or singing, there being a computer in the room that can record was amazing at that time.
So the South London scene was a big part of your journey?
I just felt the need to create and get out there. This was in my schooldays, 13/14 years old at the time. Also it’s that social aspect, the hip-hop/rap scene were my first friendships, making music and hanging out, you know, everything that comes with it. From that social circle, it lead me to learning instruments by myself. I learnt keyboard, but I sounded a bit like Alicia Keys really, so it took me a while to realise my own style.
I tried to be a bit different by like, teasing with the music a little bit, by trying to be a little bit rappy, but it was awful! So I spent a long time going through cringey cafes, before someone tapped me on the shoulder saying “I think you’re a singer song-writer,” and I was like ‘Ok, cool! I’ll stop rapping now…’
We’d certainly like to hear some of your rapping skills. What about your time at college, what was that like for you?
I managed to go to a performing arts school when I was 16. I blagged my way onto the course, I didn’t know much music theory, but they just took a bit of a risk on me. That’s when everything opened up. I was meeting loads of live musicians that normally would only be on TV. I would be in a band, and be into rock, I love rap, I love funk, I love folk-rock - really I exploded musically.
And what was the first song you wrote?
My first actual song was called ‘The Boogeyman’, and it was about monsters… that was when I was about seven! But my first real song I wrote when I was about 12, maybe younger. It was called ‘Do You believe’, and I liked it a lot.
What’s it like coming out of college in Croydon with your particular style?
It was great, but equally terrifying, it’s like a little industry bubble within itself. I think that’s where you learn the principles of networking. When you’re at that age, you’re thinking ‘where’s my next slip coming from,’ or whatever, but on top of that was ‘so and so’s uncle works here’ and ‘I know the owner of this cafe’.
Some people really thrived in that area, but I was still quite juvenile in that strategicness, and part of me was sitting back and enjoying. That experience was massively beneficial, and some of those lessons I’m still learning now, but at the time it’s just a bit overwhelming.
It’s tough love, get used to it. But I do have really fun memories.
What’s your take on the music industry today?
I suppose now, there is a level of pressure that people put on themselves, or even family members do. That’s the drive, but you’ve just got to be headstrong enough.
There are paths in the industry that are a lot less fun, too. Like, some of the people I know have made quite a lot more money than me by writing for other people, or putting music in films, and so even if you come into music wanting initially to be an artist, it’s all about having that room to explore.
And what genre is your music, do you think?
I think my music’s quite simple. It’s just acoustic-pop-indy. Most times I get put up as alternative, or whatever. A lot of my stuff is rhythmically based, a lot of it comes from African cultures. I love the likes of Arcade Fire and Tracy Chapman.
Pop isn’t genre-restricted. I think people think of it as a dirty word sometimes, but pop is popular. I like when people have the guts to stand behind their music and say, ‘I’m pop.’
Now, this is going to sound like a bit of a wanly question…
Well, ok then… Ahem. What does your music say about you?
I hope it say stat I’m honest, that I’m having fun, but also you have to have the freedom as an artist to try things. My album’s going to be sprinkled with many different shades. I like making a bit of an organic, sound landscape.
What do you consider most important to bear in mind when writing a song?
Everything’s important. It can start with anything, but mainly just an idea that makes you want to stay up until 3AM to finish it. if it’s just an idea that you put aside for tomorrow, then that can give me an inclining that it’s not that compelling.
I’m quite a passionate, fairly obsessive person. Once I start something, I just can’t stop thinking about it. Most of the time I write in the shower, weirdly. I don’t know what you’re meant to be thinking about in the shower, or when you’re driving, but your brain just switches off, and sometimes things just come through. No-one can hear you, I work best when no-one’s around.
There’s a mystery about the music industry that’s been broken down in a really positive way, in terms of behind the scenes. We need more faith in the fact that people know what’s going on, and we need to be more confident, which is easier said than done.
People ask ‘where’s your tour bus’ when I’m signing an autograph or whatever, and I’m like ‘you see that grey vauxhall Astra over there? That’s my granddad’s car.’
In many ways, the sooner the industry can adapt to change, the better. Putting streaming towards charts can only be good.
Kimberly Anne’s EP Liar is out this Monday, 25th August.
Check out her latest single, Almost on My Feet, here:
Words Will Ross, @WillRoss94
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