Sydney’s Imbi the Girl is one incredibly talented example of the current wave of young artists making their mark on Australian music, with raw, authentic music, that has no bounds or moulds. Imbi The Girl is known for being a fierce lyricist with a stage presence that oozes confidence and sass, Imbi is an artist to watch and AMNplify got to catch up with her for a chat post-Festival of the Sun (FOTSUN). Have a read of the interview below.
Imbi! How are you finding the festival? You came in yesterday from Sydney, right?
What are your impressions? What has the crowd been like?
I’m, like, overwhelmed with joy. It’s a really beautiful festival. The weather’s been hot, but apart from that everything’s been pretty good. So yeah, having a great time.
So I wanted to ask you, you started raping six months ago, right?
And in that time you’ve really struck a chord. You’ve gone from being a supporting act at the Oxford Art Factory, to having your own headlining show coming up. I wanted to know, were you doing things before rap? How did you come to rap? Because the power of the lyrics is phenomenal.
Ah, thank you! I’ve been singing since I was really young. My mum heard me humming in the backyard when I was something like four years old, and was pretty onto it, you know, really encouraging me to explore my voice and music and stuff like that. But then that died down and became a bit of a far-off dream instead of a reality.
So I started writing poetry when I was your classic angsty teen. Then I was searching for the marriage, the happy medium, I suppose, between poetry and music. And I found myself at rap. Which is kind of obvious, but took me a while to get there.
So that was going to be my next question. What draws you to rap? The words in rap are so important and it can contain a message. But I wanted to see your take.
Rap is a pretty broad genre, I suppose. I think spoken word poetry is often rap. It’s so similar, all you need is to put some music behind it, or like a track behind it and it turns into a classic rap song. Any kind of expression when you’re matching your words with rhythm and creating a flow, I feel that’s what rap is.
Yeah, exactly. And then, like you said, rap can be so many things. So you have two singles out right now, already. So what is your take on rap? Where are you going?
I think I’m like super keen exploring all walks of rap. Because rap is such a loose term, you can put like a jazzy melody behind some spoken word poetry and that’s a cool rap song. So I want to really explore different genres in terms of backing tracks and stuff like that. But I think my energy and my rhythm I suppose will sustain throughout all of that.
Listening to your music, something that struck me about it was a warmth, that it had a soul to it. I feel like when you say rap, a lot of people think of this angry, and I hate to use the word, but, “boy” rap.
But this felt to me like there was a lot of emotional stuff. Maybe people who are not traditionally listening to lots of rap, and maybe come from other directions would still be interested in your music.
Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I think it’s really important… rap became stigmatised as a very masculine genre. And very… hard. There was, as you were saying, less feeling connotated with the word rap. So it’s cool to see a bunch of alternatives, loosely used, rap artists, coming out and putting real feeling and rhythm and heart and soul into their music. That’s all I hope for, is to have the audience leave feeling something, you know.
And you’re talking about this community of artists. Are you talking about people in Sydney? Around the world? Who are your inspirations and what’s going on in Sydney at the moment?
I think Sydney has, ah, a really fucking cool music scene. Lots of unbelievable up and coming artists. Like, Odette, who I think is from Sydney. All across Australia, there are fucking cool alternate rappers coming up, like Kaiiit, who’s a really cool chick who makes awesome music, Baro who’s one of the older guys. Remi. Sampa, who’s playing soon! Which is really exciting.
And some of these artists, are the people you know in Sydney? Or is it the scene’s online, that you have access to, that you listen to?
Most of them, I think, are from Melbourne. Being an Australian artist, I feel like it’s a real communal countrywide music scene. There are so many gigs, so often, interstate, you can really feel like the artist is in your state, regardless, if that makes sense.
I wanted to ask you a bit more about the Sydney scene. What is there to love? What do you want more of? How do you hope it’ll grow?
I think Sydney has a really fucking strong band scene. Alternate kind of music. Lots of fusion, jazz, funk, rock, like, that sort of thing. There are a couple of really great bands that are doing really frequent gigs. And that’s awesome, I love that. I always want to see more live music. No matter how much there is, I want to see more. Also, more visual art.
You’re part of both.
I try to be.
What’s your dream collaboration? If you could work with anyone dead or alive.
Allen Ginsburg. He was a spoken word poet. That would be like a fucking dream. He’s amazing.
So you’re into the Beats?
Yeah, love them. That’s what got me into poetry. There’s a mockumentary where James Franko plays Allen Ginsburg, and it’s about the trial of his first poem and how it was like banned from America because of censorship.
I’ve seen that! With the amazing cartoons.
Yes, yes. And I saw that cartoon and I was like, what is this?! And then I just got into all of the beatniks. I’ve read so many books of theirs. I absolutely adore them.
Yeah, I feel like beat poetry’s having a moment. All these movies have come around about the beats. For some reason, they feel really relevant, still.
I think there’s a lot of political charge behind beat poetry and because we’re entering a really heightened political scene at the moment, with Trump being absolutely crook and Australia having the yes vote. I think, like socially, we’re feeling very politically charged. So relating back to the beatniks, that air of revolution that’s behind their words. And I think people are really connecting with that now.
Yeah, I wonder if you had the same experience as me. Where, when I was growing up, I thought poetry was all nice, soft stuff. Then when you find the beats, you’re like, no, wait a minute. These guys were at the edge of society, these guys were fighting for stuff. Their words are not at all soft. To say beatnik poetry is never to say, it’s something you can read to a kid.
Yeah, yeah. Exactly. It’s intense and it’s powerful as anything.
Is there anyone else who’s an inspiration for you?
David Bowie. I love David Bowie. Absolute inspiration. Some more like modern day people I suppose. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Noname? But she’s a phenomenal rapper, you should look her up. Princess Nokia, as well. Really cool. They’re both USA artists, but really really cool.
Ok, awesome. Should I check them out?
Yeah, yeah, you should. Really cool sounds.
And a little birdy told me you have a music video coming out in two weeks. Is there anything you want us to know? Any hints about what’s coming? Anything you want us to watch out for?
Yeah, it’s probably one of the favourite things that I’ve had the pleasure of creating throughout my short life. It was a bunch of fun to make and everyone involved is phenomenal and it makes me happy to think that soon I’ll be able to share that with everyone.
And we can find that on…?
It will be posted on Facebook, I believe.
Ok, perfect. What do you see… the last question for you would be, what do you see yourself doing in the next year? What do you want to explore? What are your crazy hopes or like you know, solid plans?
I think we’re taking things pretty slowly, one step at a time. But, I’m really excited about the future. I see lots of really fun experiences popping up and I’m really grateful to have these opportunities. I can’t wait to experience the future. It’s gonna be great.
And if you had, as a final question, one dream venue. If you could play anywhere in the entire world.
If they said, we want you to play, and in three seconds you would say yes, I will fly there now, it would be… Do you have one?
Oh my gosh. I dunno. That’s huge. I really want to go to Iceland. So maybe on some glacier or something. That’d be cool.
So if Bjork said, let’s hang out, you’d be, I’m there.
Yes. Exactly. That’d be amazing.
AMNplify – BD
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- Natalia Cartney