Music Spotlight: SAKIMA
Asymmetric Magazine: Tell us about your current work as a musician.
Sakima: I have a lot of creative outlets, so my work as a musician usually encompasses a bunch of other art forms that all connect in an explorative way. I recently did a collab with one of my best mates and long term visual collaborator Rianne White for a piece made for VSCO. That collab was a sort of audio-visual exploration of my debut EP which drops on Moving Castle later this spring. I’ve been working with a lot of other musicians such as AObeats (we also have a duo called SWIMS together), and I’ve been making a bunch of tracks with Jailo (my main outlet for making dancehall tracks!). I sing, write and produce, so I’m quite lucky that I get to do a whole variety of sessions and work with loads of different artists because of my flexibility, but I also don’t depend on other people to write or produce for me on my own songs, so I’m pretty much making new music daily (not to sound pretentious!).
AM: How would you best describe your sound?
S: I’m always out-running myself in terms of genre, which I think is fine these days. We all consume so many different kinds music on the daily that it’s kind of open the door for artists to be lots of different things at once. For my current phase, one of my best mates, Slow Shudder, said my music was best viewed as hip hop. Though it dances with pop, r’n’b and electronic sub-genres, the lyrical content of my music is most effective culturally when viewed as hip hop, which I find kind of fascinating.
AM: What inspires you most?
S: Things that other artists don’t make! I know that sounds sort of dumb, but my best work comes from a place of God dam I wish there was a song that spoke to me as a gay guy in the way this Usher song does to others–that sort of thing. It often feels like gay artists are afraid to get turned into pop music or any kind of music that touches on being mainstream or accessible. That’s always been my biggest issue with music. Why do we have to sugar coat our identities or sexuality if we aren’t white and straight? Most days I’m like, fuck that and then write a mad ratchet pop banger from a queer perspective.
AM: What role does Los Angeles play in your work?
S: I think it would be easier to as what role doesn’t it play. Although I'm currently in the UK, everything in my life is pretty LA centric, which happened in the past couple of years, thanks to AObeats and his scary big influence on my life. I always had a super romanticized idea of LA–I still have this low key fantasy of having an LA boyfriend and the film that we all make up in our heads about thoughts like that. It makes way into my music frequently. If my music was a place, it’s always going to be the UK, but the personality of my music is deeply LA. Psycho analyze that if you want.
AM: What themes do you pursue through your music?
S: I mostly pursue sex in my music, if I’m being honest (not that it’s hard to tell). Again, it’s this real injustice felt as a gay person–artist/brand/persona aside–just as a member of the gay community, the lack of mainstream, pop, accessible music that is by or targeted towards the LGBTQ+ community is just so fucking bleak. Of course, there are a handful of queer musicians in contemporary pop music that are incredible assets to not only the gay community but music in general, but it’s always so censored–so sugar-coated. How can straight artists sing about what ever they like and be as sexual as they want, but queer artists have to sit down when it comes to anything remotely non-PG? Not all of my music is queer exclusive, of course, and it’s not all of who I am, but I definitely feel a responsibility to get LGBTQ+ stories, specifically ones that talk about sex without being apologetic. If Justin Bieber can roll around on a bed and simulate sex with a girl, then I’m going to do the fucking same with a guy in a music video, because gay people have sex, too.
AM: We love that you stand for equality in pop music. How do you think music impacts social change?
S: In my opinion, music is always a reflection of the current sociocultural climate. The representation of different social groups has for a very long time been unequal, which isn’t cool. For me, it’s not about making protest songs that are overtly forcing an agenda for change, but I’m more interested in integrating into pop music as a gay artist and pushing the normalcy of queer stories. LGBTQ+ people are as sexual as straight people, so where is the queer sex in pop music? That’s what I want to bring. It’s not about change, it’s about integration and aligning queer stories with straight ones in music to an equal level.
AM: What other musicians or artists are currently inspiring you?
S: I’m mostly inspired by the producers behind artists' work. As an artist who produces most of their own work, I never really hook onto an artist for one specific reason. It makes it hard to have a clear idea of what is directly inspiring me because it’s just a constant stream of sounds that I’m like, Oh shit! I want to make something like that. I’ve been having a lot of those 'Oh shit! I wish that was my song' moments with Post Malone, Tory Lanez and Mura Masa.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you what other people want. Make what makes you happy, and it’ll make other people happy, too.
AM: Where is one place that you feel completely in touch with your creative self?
S: To be honest, when I’m in the bath. There’s something meditative about sitting in hot water for ages; it gives me a direct path to my creativity to dream up whatever dumb thing I want to do next. Second to that, it’s my bedroom. What can I say? I like my own company.
AM: What's the best advice you've ever received?
S: Well no one ever told me this, but after years of being told not to ‘use male pronouns’ or ‘be homoerotic’, aka to not be myself, I’d say the best advice is don’t ever let anyone tell you what other people want. Make what makes you happy, and it’ll make other people happy, too.