By Molly Gorman & Kaycia Ainsworth
Simbiatu "Simbi" Abisola Abiola Ajikawo, or as we know her Little Simz, is currently touring the UK after the storming success of her latest album release, Sometimes I Might Be Introvert. Having already proved herself to be a leading and unstoppable rap artist, her impact on the UK music scene is powerful, captivating and will have a long lasting legacy.
Simz has already won an Ivor Novello award for Best Album and a Mercury Prize nomination for her third album Grey Area, and she’s going from strength to strength as she was awarded Best Female at this year's MOBO awards.
With her latest project, Simz has transcended her artistic boundaries by giving us her most personal work yet. Simz is a story-teller, with her honest, intimate and empowering lyrics coming into full force. Seemingly fitting after two years of intermittent isolation, Introvert explores Simz’s own personality, politics, self-reflection, trauma and her relationship with her father.
Exclusively for MSM, photographer Grace Bristo captured Little Simz at the Cambridge Corn Exchange. Our team got to ask her some quick fire questions .
1) How did you capture the stage presence of Little Simz through your photography?
She made it easy to be honest - her energy was powerful which just translated so easily into the photos.
2) Did you have a particular set highlight?
As soon as ‘Woman’ came on, the girls on the front row started screaming and shouting back all the lyrics, it made me want to be in there with them!
3) What do you enjoy most about photographing artists at their gigs?
I rate that I actually get to watch the show myself with the room to move around, It always brings a smile to my face and I always leave feeling hyped up, that always helps because when I leave I like to edit straight away, the editing process is one of my favourite bits of the job.
4) Tell us a little bit about how you got into live photography?
This was actually my first time photographing in the pit, a goal of mine since the pandemic was to go on tour and photograph the shows and BTS. I started reaching out to smaller artists’ PR and management that I already had a relationship with from previous shoots, and I shot my first gig a couple of months ago. Hopefully a tour is on the horizon for 2022.
5) Little Simz describes herself as an introvert, did that part of her personality feed into her performance?
She actually seemed really confident, but probably like most people when you’re doing something you love, it’s easy to feel extroverted.
6) If you had to summarise the gig in 3 words, what would they be?
Captivating, sweaty and vibes!
7) What process do you undertake to ensure you can portray your vision for the images?
I’ve always kept my style throughout shots but because it was my first shoot in the pit, I went into it not knowing how they were going to completely turn out, which I quite enjoyed.
8) Who in the industry is your biggest inspiration and what do you like about their work?
This honestly changes most months or even weeks. My current favourite though is Nicole Ngai who is doing it for the girls! It can range from My old Photography tutor George who I think personally created the photo dump style that is a craze now, posting anything and making it look like art… he could post a photo of a toilet and I would see it as art… to photographers like Conor Cunningham and Jack Bridgland who are always doing crazy good studio editorials.
9) Do you prefer photographing live gigs and music events to shooting in a studio, and do they require a different approach?
They are completely different, studio shoots are way more intimate and you really have to plan to a certain extent, whereas live music you hardly know what the lighting is going to be like - so you almost have to be quick on your feet and with your settings. Live music moves a lot faster too, as you’re usually only in the pit for the first three songs. I’ve got to admit I love shooting in the studio, but I’m in the honeymoon period for live music.
10) Do you have anything that you’re working on that we should keep an eye out for?
I’m always posting random things I’m working on onto my Instagram @gracebristo, it’s like my visual diary. I’m trying to get less sacred with my content, I’m always used to just posting the final product or the best of the best but I’m trying out new things, new ways of being creative. In terms of new content.. you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled!
Photography by @gracebristo
Words by @mollygorman & @kayciiaaiinsworthstudiio