Interview with Lil Halima | The Norweigan-Kenyan Singer Creating Dreamy, Electronic R&B
Lil Halima is a singer/artist making her way onto the music scene with her dream-like electronic RnB flare. This Norwegian-Keynan beauty brings a personal touch to her music; entrancing you with her smooth voice and dynamic abstract beats.
The talented 20-year-old was discovered on Instagram by Def Jam Norway and released her debut EP Love songs for bad lovers in October 2018. The young singer continues to impress as she progresses within her creativity delving into music production and visual art.
I was able to chat with Lil Halima over the phone, where it became evident this girl was a star in the making. Enjoy the interview below as she shares her insights on music, growing up in Norway and, of course, love.
How’s 2019 been so far?
My 2019 has been good so far. I’ve been doing a lot of things when it comes to music, and I’ve started with a good mindset.
Do you have any new year’s resolutions or anything you want to pursue this year?
Yes, but I’m not a big fan of “this year I’m going to do this or that” because I feel that some changes you have to do over time. I’ve decided I’m going to be more kind to myself and more kind to the planet. I’ve always been vegetarian, but now I’m vegan. So I’m keeping with that goal and keeping on with the music and anything else I want to do.
You grew up in Norway; what was that childhood like? And what was it like growing up as part-Kenyan in such a northern country?
My childhood was really, really great. I have very close relationships with my family and friends, but I was always different because – obviously, I’m not fully black – but since everyone is white I guess I was the only black girl. I had these whole other interests than everyone else; I was into art and music which didn’t make it much easier as they all mainly did sports and I wanted to spend a lot of time by myself. But I figured it out. I went through a period where I was straightening my hair and started playing football because I heard people would like you if you played football. I hated it and stopped doing it eventually because I just figured I would never be this person. So I decided to exaggerate things I loved instead of trying to hide them all the time.
Once you found who you were and your interests, did you have any struggles trying to fit in again or did you just completely let go of all that?
I kind of just let it go. Everyone always knew I was into music and stuff. I tried to do those other things that I didn’t like and tried to be something that I wasn’t because I had no one else to look up to. I had no role models when it came to music around me; no one who wanted to do the things I wanted to do; no one to look up to when it came to beauty standards, like, with the hair and everything. Except at home where my dad used to show us RnB, and my mom was into hip hop – that was the only place where I was exposed to other standards. But when you’re at that age, the things your parents are into are uncool; all you want to do is what everyone else does. Although it wasn’t really a struggle to go for it because I already had it inside me. I just cut off all the bullshit.
What are some of the most valuable lessons from your childhood, that you take with you now that you’re grown?
I’ve actually just got it tattooed on my neck. My parents always told us that love always wins. That was the one thing we were taught when we were young. It doesn’t matter if you hate something, you just don’t do it. And if you do everything out of love, then you’ll always win. I am a great believer of that. So that is the biggest lesson I got from my childhood and my family.
That’s beautiful! Now, let’s dive into your music more. Your EP is called Love songs for bad lovers, why? Are you a bad lover?
Well, basically, I didn’t really go into this with the focus of “okay now I’m going to make an EP.” It came like a collection of songs that I made throughout a period of time, and at the time I was going through my first serious relationship. I had all of these friends who were struggling when it came to relationships. No one knew what they were doing, everyone was breaking up, getting together, turning on each other, having a good time and having a bad time. And I was going through that too. You wouldn’t call someone that has never done something before “bad” at it, if that makes sense? Like, if I want to learn how to ride a horse, but I’d never ridden a horse before, you wouldn’t say “you’re bad.” You’d say “you’re learning.” It’s the same when it comes to love! You have no idea what you’re doing because you’ve never done it before, and if you make mistakes you think you’re a bad lover. I realised all my friends are bad lovers because we’ve never loved before, when in fact, we’re just learning how to love.
Where do you find the inspiration for your music?
I don’t know, everywhere? I listen to a lot of music, a lot of music! I have to listen to music for several hours a day. I have this thing when I feel something strongly I will write it down in my notes or talk about it on my voice memos. It can be whatever… like when I was in Berlin recently, they have this thing where you put a lock on the bridge and throw the key in the river. I saw these people doing it and this couple was so in love thinking “let’s lock our love and throw away the keys because this will always be amazing.” However, my perspective was that they were so desperate not to be alone that they’re giving up their freedom to be together, throwing the key in the water even though the river is probably filled with broken promises. So I wrote down notes about all the keys in the river in Berlin, and I made a song about it when I got home. I like to save everything. So [inspiration] is everywhere; the music I listen to, people, the happenings around me, the production side of things. I’m so into producing music, so I get inspiration from hearing different sounds as well. Do you know what ASMR is?
Yes! (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, aka ASMR, is a physical/ emotional response to satisfying sounds such as tapping, whispering, brushing, etc. When you hear something that sends a tingling sensation through your body or makes your hairs stand up, that’s ASMR.)
This sounds weird, but because I’m so into production, I love to make different sounds. I somehow got to hear about ASMR, and I was like “what is this?!” Even just like tapping, I find it so interesting! I want to make sounds because millions of people find them so pleasing, and that’s what music is. So to answer your question, I get inspiration from everywhere haha.
Your new single Hold Me… I think it’s gorgeous, and I felt that! Can you tell me a little bit more about it?
Thank you! Hold Me will be the first song on my new EP. I have this concept in mind with two EPs; the first one is called For the dark days the second is For the bright days and it’s to do with where I’m from in the north of Norway. We have this period of time during the year where there’s no Sun whatsoever. It’s just pitch black outside for 24 hours a day, and then during the summer, the Sun won’t go down at all. I realised I was in entirely different emotional states during these seasons; it’s almost like you become a different person because you have to adjust so much; not just to it being dark all the time, but you’re tired all the time. Especially my body, as I’m built for the Sun. So I wanted to make music that was for the dark days and music that would be for the bright days. Hold Me is about the feeling during the dark days when you need someone to hold but then you realise you have to take care of yourself.
What’s the vibe you’re going for with these EPs? Will you have a new sound for each one?
I don’t think genres are a thing anymore because people listen to such versatile music. I have friends that listen to RnB, indie, and then punk-inspired music. So I will have completely different sounds. That’s why I like to work in projects and not just release singles because I feel that I am in a different state all the time. Maybe like RnB, a bit electronic… I don’t even know what to call it! The way I can explain it is the first one is very heavy, and the other will be much lighter, kind of like pop-RnB. I also see music in colours, like the first one is dark blue, dark purple and neon green, whereas the EP during the summer will be yellow, orange and red.
Since you’re such a young artist, I’m assuming you’re still in the early process of feeling comfortable performing live. How has it been for you and how do you handle the nerves?
I love performing live – or I’m learning to love performing live, as it’s so new still. I did my first show live just under a year ago on my own. I have performed a lot in Norway live, but I was singing more folk-inspired music, whereas this is my music so I’m still getting used to it. Sometimes when I’m singing I build up the energy and the story and everything I want to send out. And I sometimes try to turn it inwards instead of outwards, if that makes sense? I’m working on turning it all outwards, I’m making a lot of hand movements, but I realise you can’t see, so I hope it makes sense ha.
What would be your dream gig?
Hmm… A show where I have planned everything. I enjoy every single part, even the creative elements, like the lights and the outfits, every little movement. So my dream gig would be whatever, whenever, just entirely put together by me.
I know that you’re also really into art, I’ve seen that you use yourself as a canvas a lot. What has been your favourite look you’ve created on yourself?
Maybe the one with the hands, it’s two hands almost touching, I like that one.
How long did it take you to do?
I can be very impatient. I can’t do anything that would take longer than one sit down. So I think that one took about 20 minutes? It feels sort of like an impulse, I do it quickly, take some pictures and then think what happens now? What did I just do? I think I have a post far down on my Instagram where I painted flowers on my face and said “hey, who’s coming out today?” thinking I don’t have any plans, I’m just sitting there painting my face, which you may think is weird but explains me very well.
Lil Halima’s new EP For the Dark Days will be released February 22nd 2019. Be sure to check it out, you won’t regret it!