Little Simz opens music studio at Lift

Little Simz answering questions at Lift Youth Hub

The Brit Award and Mercury Prize-winning rapper, singer, and actress returned to Lift, the youth hub of her childhood, to open the new White Lion Studio. Simbi Ajikawo, who goes by the stage name Little Simz, joined more than 100 young people to celebrate the occasion and took questions from them about her childhood, her career and how Lift helped her

How do you feel about being here at Lift today?

This is really, really special for me. Lift, back when it was White Lion, was definitely the foundation for me in how I began my journey. It was really a place where I felt safe. It was a place where I was reminded that I can dream, that breathed community, that breathed life into young people.

I couldn’t wait to get out of school and come here and create magic and be amongst amazing young people who were trying to do that and better their lives and chase dreams. It’s crazy what you’ve done with the place, it’s so amazing. It’s such a dream to be here, I’m super, super-honoured. It’s an amazing, beautiful space.

What are your hopes for this new studio?

I started in this environment, and it’s propelled me to where I am today, so my wish and my hope is that you use it. Don’t just let it sit there, get in there, get as many hours as you can, and enjoy it – it’s there for you to experiment and try new things.

How did the youth club help you?

I grew up in north London on Essex Road. I went to school at Highbury Fields. I had different groups of friends growing up, I obviously had my school friends, I would also come to the youth club and have that. And that’s why places like this are so important because this was like the escape. I would go out and would see people doing the same stuff, living a life inflicted by all sorts of things and I knew from a young age that I didn’t want to do that.

There definitely weren’t many opportunities, especially living in London everything is in your face; you look out of your window and see scaffolding and buildings everywhere. What I think this does to your psyche is it doesn’t allow you to see past the end of your nose. It doesn’t allow you to dream or have imagination. I think it was the youth club that shifted my thinking, I saw people who were weird and creative and into different things and I felt at home and felt safe. I didn’t have to fit a certain mould to fit in.

What would you tell your younger self?

I think I would tell my younger self that I’m proud of her. I would tell her to continue to be patient and understand that everything happens in divine timing. I think sometimes when you’re doing something you feel like it should be your time now or this person is doing it, so I should be. Especially in the age of social media there is so much noise. You are just always comparing yourself to others.

I think the key is to remember I’m one of one, you are one of one, there is no-one on this earth that is like you, so everything that is for you will never pass you and it’s going to happen when it’s meant to happen.

So, I would tell my younger self, be patient and work hard, because hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.

So, when is the new album dropping?

It’s coming soon, it’s being worked on. I think with each project it requires me to actually live my life to be able to have things to talk about and stories to tell, particularly because of the type of music I make. So, even though I’ve put out consecutive albums, sometimes twice a year or one a year, I try to take time to live and have experiences in order to have stuff to talk about it. But it is coming for sure.

You can visit the Lift youth hub website to find out more about what they offer and how to visit.

You can also read Islington Council’s news article about the opening event for Lift’s new music studio.

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