"I'm of Nigerian heritage so I grew up with the assumption that I would be a lawyer, doctor or engineer..."
Kima is a Nigeria-born, Wales-raised, London-based 'genre bending' contemporary R&B and neo soul artist. Kima released her debut single, 'Morning' in 2019, which was featured on ITV's Love Island, BBC Radio 1 (where she has performed live sessions) and enthusiastically championed by BBC Introducing. Kima's second release, 'If Nobody Told You', came out earlier this month, it was premiered by BBC Radio London so of course we had to catch up with Kima to find out if she had a super power what would it be and why and to be honest this was the answer we would have given!
NEO: How would you describe your music journey?
KIMA:My music journey is quite new, and I'd say it's been scary but insanely fun! I have been singing and writing my entire life, but I only recently started releasing music. I've never felt so excited and fulfilled by what I get to do every day.
NEO:How long have you been making music?
KIMA: My whole life, I remember when I was 6 years old and my siblings and I had a rickety old electric piano which came with hundreds of demo backing tracks. We must have written our own lyrics and melodies to every single one of those demo tracks! There are definitely lots of old videos I could dig up. I taught myself how to play the piano from YouTube videos when I was growing up, so then I no longer needed the demo tracks on my keyboard and I could be as creative as I wanted. Writing songs has always been a big part of my life, it's really easy to capture moments of time through music. If I'm listening back to a song I've written, I can tell you exactly what was happening in my life at the point of writing it.
NEO:Who inspires you musically?
KIMA: I have a broad range of inspirations. Beyonce is the ultimate Queen, King, President...all of the above. She is everything. I love her work ethic, her energy in performance, her music, her vocals (which are always on point live). I'm also hugely inspired by Alicia Keys, James Brown, The Arctic Monkeys, The Fray, Kanye West, Hans Zimmer is incredible. I told you it's a broad range!
NEO:If you could pick any three artists to collaborate with (dead or alive) who would it be?
KIMA:Wow, this is a big question. Beyonce, obviously. Also, Bruno Mars, and Etta James, probably. You know, no big deal.
NEO:What do you enjoy most about being a musician?
KIMA: The creativity and sheer level of self expression. I also LOVE the hustle, the entrepreneurship and business side of music.I think a lot of musicians don't realise that to be a musician is to be an entrepreneur, or 'Songtrepreneur' as I like to call it. You are selling your music. Whether that is to fans, or film and TV for licensing, your music is a business. We focus so much on the creativity that we often neglect the part that will actually gets our music heard. My aunty was a hugely successful artist (painter), and her husband, my Uncle, told me that in her network they spent about 25% of their time painting and 75% of their time networking, marketing and selling their art.
NEO:What three words would your friends use to describe you as?
KIMA:Crazy, hard working and supportive. At least I hope they would!
NEO: Out of all the songs you have released which is your favourite? And why?
KIMA: I've only released two songs so far but I think my favourite of the two is 'Morning'. Just because of the sheer honesty and transparency in the song. It basically talks about an old dysfunctional, toxic, verbally & emotionally abusive relationship I was in, and the complex feelings of knowing you need to end the relationship but also wanting to stay because you've invested so much energy into it.
When I originally wrote the song, the chorus just detailed the deliberation of wanting leave but choosing to stay just a little bit longer. But I added in a final chorus with a change of lyrics which made it clear that I left that situation. I don't want any young girls to listen to my music and think staying in a relationship like that is the better option. I make my music for women, and that will become more obvious with the future releases I put out. My grandfather always used to say "experience is the best teacher but it charges the highest fees", so I want to share my experience so I can pass on the lessons I'm learning without other people having to experience it themselves.
NEO:If you could star in a TV show, what would it be and why?
KIMA: Oooh I've never thought about this. Probably The Boys on Amazon just because it's such a great show. I'm not even an actor, but who would say no to a role in The Boys?
NEO:If you had a superpower what would it be and why?
KIMA: The power to change people's minds. I would love to take credit for that but I actually heard Youtuber Murad Merali say that and since then I've been like 'yes that would be mine!'. You could literally get everything you want - money, houses, clothes. But also you could effect really important change like getting justice and good policies put in place.
NEO:What is something you used to believe in that you do not believe in any more?
KIMA: I used to believe that you had to be a lawyer or doctor, and that you couldn't have a real career doing music or something creative. I'm of Nigerian heritage so I grew up with the assumption that I would be a lawyer, doctor or engineer...or a disgrace(!). I'm actually a lawyer by the way. But there is SO much opportunity in creative fields, especially when you approach it with a business mindset. I wish I'd known that earlier, but I love that I know it now because it's so much fun and I'm loving this journey.
There are so many things that I have 'unlearned'. Another one is placing importance on other people's opinions of me. I think that's the biggest thing that holds people back from pursuing what they love and putting themselves out there in a way that makes them vulnerable. I realised that no one thinks about me as much as I think they do. They really don't. People are busy, they are not watching me, waiting for me to trip up and fail. That realisation was so freeing. And since then, I've just cared less and less to the point where now I don't care at all. Which means I can do what I want, I can unashamedly promote myself on social media, I can pitch my music for projects some people might think I'm not "qualified" for, I can take risks and feel totally liberated.