Image: Courtesy Simi Management

Simi & Sound: A Candid Conversation on Music and Mastery

Amos Mabinda had the privilege of catching up with the remarkable Simi, born Simisola Bolatito Ogunleye. The Nigerian songstress stands out as a truly gifted artist, setting herself apart from her contemporaries on the African music scene. In 2017, she graced us with her debut album, “Simisola,” which was met with resounding acclaim.

Simi’s music is a captivating blend of energy, inspiration, and, of course, love. Her distinctive storytelling prowess shines through in every note, accompanied by her clever and rich songwriting, which is masterfully wrapped in simplicity. Remarkably, Simi isn’t just a vocalist extraordinaire; she’s also the sonic sorceress behind her creations, wielding sound with a finesse that’d make even the most seasoned sound engineers blush.

Recently, she embarked on a much-anticipated UK tour, and prior to this exciting journey, Mabinda engaged in a candid conversation with her. During their discussion, Simi divulged insights into her upcoming music, reflections on her groundbreaking first album, and much more.

Mabinda: Hey… Simi how you keeping?

Simi: I’m doing very well thank you very much

Mabinda: Before we get kicking, tell us about ‘I Dun Care’

Simi: Umh I don’t care is actually my latest…my most recent single, umh I dropped it I think about two weeks ago. And basically it’s an Afrobeat inspired song that talks about how, you know… It’s more like you know… if you wanna do PDA, if you want to be expressive and put your love on display and stuff like that, you don’t really care how people feel about it you know, you just live your life and enjoy yourself and your love as you please and you don’t care how people think about it.

Mabinda: How was it like making the video for ‘I Dun Care’?

Simi: Making the video for I don’t care which was shot by Clarence Peters, and by the way…I think it was a very unique experience cos it’s nothing like any of the videos that I shot before, it was interesting especially with all the props that we had to use; umh the props, the lighting, it was a lot of studio work and animation involved, you know, It was interesting you know… I hurt myself a few times I slipped and I fell (laughs) but I had a lot of fun. I think what I enjoyed the most about it, was how different it was from all stuff I had done before that video.

Mabinda: This must be a great year for you, one would say. The video for ‘Aimasiko’, ‘Gone For Good’ came out this year, could we say your creative side is blowing up or… how is it like?

Simi: Ummh I would like to think that my creative side has been buzzing for a bit. You know. I like to write, I like to tell stories. I have done a lot of videos this year especially because I put out my album last year. So I’m putting videos out for songs on the album that didn’t previously have videos. And…I mean this year has been great. Like I said, I don’t care is my first official single for 2018, you know… there’s still so much coming out, and I’m really excited. I’m happy and grateful for the things I’ve been able to do till this time and I’m looking forward for things I haven’t done yet. But will definitely do.

Mabinda: Ooh and we can’t skip the hysterical ‘Foreign’ video with Falz, like that a lot of clowning going on in the video, how was it like shooting the video…?

Simi: I would say that the ‘Foreign’ video with Falz is definitely the funniest video that I’ve done yet. It was exiting. I think if you put me and Falz together, you know… like on set, video, studio…It’s like if there was a riot you know… umh. So we had so much fun, it was just one set, you know, but it was so much fun. I remember that when I got dressed, he was like, and he was looking like that, he was like oh, I look too posh, but I had these really great pants on and shoes and great make up. I was like you still looking okay, I’m like I don’t think anywhere that’s okay when we actually dressed like this. But he still had to kind of make me look, less okay than I was looking. I mean the entire experience was really fun and very funny.

Simi | Image: Courtesy of Simi Management

Mabinda: You have had quite an inspiring musical journey so far, a career that has gained a lot of momentum, an album, shows and plenty of fans around Africa and beyond. How do you feel as a person?

Simi: I feel very grateful for the blessings that I have, for you know the things that I’ve been able to achieve. The things that I’ve been able to do, I feel so thankful because I know that not everybody has the opportunity to do the things that they love the most you know…By the grace of God I work really hard, you know.. And I’m so thankful that the work actually translates you know…, into success. There’s still so much more for me to do. I always say that I look at myself as an upcoming artist continuously, because there’s still so much more I need to learn there’s still many things I need to conquer, there’s still many people, loads and millions of people that don’t know about me yet. So as much as I feel grateful, you know… I don’t dwell or revel in the things that I’ve already achieved. I’m looking forward to things I haven’t gotten yet and I’m hoping and praying that my light only grows brighter and brighter.

Mabinda: You have been doing performances around the world, like the UK and such, tell us about that; how has the reception of your music been?

Simi: So far I have to say that the reception of my music has been very heartwarming and just you know…very inspiring. Every day you know…just having people that genuinely love what I’m singing and writing and continuously support me makes me very happy and motivate me to do more. There are places where you know people are crazy about my music and there are places where they are just getting to learn the music. But either way you know every single person that gets to hear me and love me is a milestone. It’s a highlight of my life and I’m just really…really happy you know that I’m able to do that. Definitely.

Mabinda: So what do you think makes the Nigerian or for that matter African audience different from other audiences?

Simi: I think that Africans have a certain earthy…(laughs)….earthy energy, you know, I think when you listen to people that create African music then you can actually relate to the audience as well, we have like a lot of rich earthy sounds. Africans like to grove, I’m sure like they pretty much, you know… cross from different tribes, cultures that like to grove as well. Since I’ve been more in contact with African culture, I know that they like to grove, they like to enjoy rich earthy sounds.

Simi | Image: Courtesy of Simi Management

Mabinda: What is inspiring you right now? What’s keeping you going as person and an artist?

Simi: I’m inspired by so many things; I’m inspired by God, I’m inspired by love, by family, friends, by real life experiences, mine and that of others as well. I’m inspired by pretty much everything, I like to take a bit of something from you know, everything, I feel like people connect to real life more than anything so I try not to detach, I feel like I’m not bigger than anything so there’s no body’s story that can’t touch or move me to learning, you know… so everything just inspires me in different ways.

Mabinda: Alright… outside of the ‘I Dun Care’ video release what else can your fans expect from you in the near future?

Simi: Like I said, umh… I have more singles coming out this year. I’m also working toward my album that’ll be out next year. Besides my own song, I’ve worked on a couple of other features with other artists; Johnny Drille on Halleluya, and Zoro on Stainless, umh…there’s actually more coming as well. So my fingers crossed, you never know sometimes I don’t even know what I’m gonna do until I do it.

Mabinda: What is on your playlist right now?

Simi: There’s a lot of J. Cole, Rihanna, Mostly J. Cole though…

Mabinda: Finally Africa is definitely the future of music and Nigeria is at the front of all this… What do you think makes the African music scene tick?

Simi: I think what makes the African music scene tick is the energy, you know… there is an originality that is there, that you can’t really find anywhere else. This is why, you know… even people, musicians from the west, you know outside of Africa, they are drawn to our music because It’s original and there’s energy and it’s not even about the tempo even on a slow song there’s just something so rich and so pure in the way that we express, and we sing and we write, I think that is the most unique thing about the African music scene.

|Afroway |@amosmabinda

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