This month HGB had a chat with emerging hip-hop artist Blimes Brixton. Brixton is based in LA but was spending some time in her native San Francisco so we had the opportunity to catch up with her in-person. We met at a hella chill coffee shop that had the best jazz tunes playing and provided the perfect backdrop for us to discuss collaboration, influences, and evolution. Let’s begin.
Describe your sound for us.
That’s pretty hard. I would definitely say on the vibey hip-hop, borderline R&B tip. I always pride myself on being versatile. Especially with hip-hop being able to play with all the subgenres. And I love to take it back to the roots and do some super old-school, jazz sample hip-hop stuff. My favorite sound would be wavy, vibey hip-hop and vocal fusion.
What are you currently listening to?
I actually listen to more vocalists than I do rappers. Alina Baraz. Heavy. I’m such a hopeless romantic so all her music is on point for me. I’ve been listening to Phora. Rossi Rock. Rexx Life Raj is super dope. Frank Ocean. I’ve been bumpin’ Belly. Tons of SZA. And non-stop forever and a day I could listen to any of the Anderson .Paak albums, front to back. And then my girls, you know Gavlyn, Olivia Braga, Gifted Gab, I bump them all the time.
Who would your dream collaboration be with?
Missy and Timbo. 100%. And the next would have to be Anderson .Paak and Willow Smith on a track together. That’d be really tight.
I notice you’re all about collaboration. What is it about collaboration that you enjoy, what about it appeals to you?
What’s more fun than making art, is making art with another dope and creative person. I’m all for teamwork. Collaborative effort. It makes me feel comfortable. I was raised in co-op situations from a young age – my nursery school was a co-op, and I felt like I was raised by a village. San Francisco, especially when I was a kid, was such a community. In my childhood, this city was all the generation of hippies and immigrants coming together. So I’m a very community-based person, I don’t like being alone. I’m not the type to lock myself in a room and make a song from start to finish, not at all. I’m way more of a collaborative type of person. Plus, if I can expose what I think are really dope artists to my circle and to my fans then I’m super happy. And I think the people that I work with feel the same. Cross-networking is brilliant, especially in an independent world. We need that.
You have a song with Method Man coming out in January. How did that collaboration come about?
I had heard for many years that he was a fan of my battle raps from different rappers in the scene and I didn’t believe them. About 3 years after I first heard that I got an email. There’s a celebrity battle rap show called Drop The Mic and Method Man is the host of that show. They sat down in the writers’ room and asked him who his favorite battle rappers were so they could bring them on set to work with the celebrities to get them better at battle rap. And Method Man was like, ‘Yo you gotta get Blimey.’ So I went down and worked with them on set for a day, coached some celebrities. That was an awesome day. And also to get paid off of something that I did for so long just off of love, for the culture, to actually have that pay my bills was really gratifying.
I met Method Man that day, he was like, ‘I’m a huge fan, word is bond, if you need a feature I got you.’ So I got in the studio the very next day. I was not sleeping on this! I recorded two tracks, and I knew which one he was gonna pick, ’cause it’s so soulful. I sent it to and him and he’s like, ‘That’s the joint.’ A month later he sent me a verse. And this whole time I’m thinking what is happening right now?! He shouts me out in the verse, shouts out San Francisco, and I’m like not only is this the feature of a lifetime but he’s actually like, ‘I fuck with you for real’ and honestly, that support feels better than anything. That support for me, I never thought I’d have it. I thought I stuck out, that I was a bit too much of a jagged edge for hip-hop, too far from what the rest of the game says you should be. I think in the last 5 or 6 years the genre has become so much more honest and vulnerable and real. Thanks to artists like Kendrick and all the artists spilling it all, giving us the unapologetic version of themselves. And Method Man hit me up a couple weeks ago like, ‘I’m in LA what do you wanna do, you wanna shoot a video? Anything you need I got you.’ He was a fan of mine and has become a good friend of mine and supporter. It’s fucking incredible. Doesn’t feel real when I say it. And I know I’ll look back on this in 10 years sitting backstage at a Wu-Tang reunion show in Europe like, ‘Yo, Meth, remember when we did that video?’ [she laughs]. I can only hope.
You come from a musical family, your father is the bass player in a popular blues band. How much of an influence did that have on you and on you becoming an artist?
Infinite. Infinite influence. In fact, my dad sat me down the day before yesterday and played me my grandfather’s 78 jazz records that he had recorded when he was 19. I couldn’t even hold back the tears, to think of my grandfather feeling the way that I feel when I’m in the studio, to think of him in the same position when he was 19-years-old.
I didn’t connect with him much when he was alive, he was kind of a closed off person in his older age, unfortunately. But that just made me feel like wow. We did have so much in common and so much to connect with. Jazz has a huge influence on hip-hop music. There are so many jazz samples and I’m listening to all of the [jazz] music playing in here right now and there are literally bars going off in the back of my head. Jazz music makes me feel so good. So my dad took a little bit of what his father gave him and went off on his own genre. What resonated with him was blues.
And then when I got old enough, like 11 or 12, I fell in love with hip-hop, and I took what resonated with me, those roots in jazz, soul, and blues and I took it into something that I could really relate to which was hip-hop. I was obsessed with the spoken word slam poetry on HBO, 8 Mile came out around that time, we were battling in the schoolyard. I could never breakdance but loved to watch it, I was just completely immersed in all things hip-hop.
And I still think it’s so cool that it’s generational in my family. We all took something from the generation above us and went in a direction that resonated with us. And we all played heartbreak and struggle music and put our hearts on our sleeves and wrote about real ass shit.
What is your creative process like?
My creative process looks like hella coffee in the morning, running, and meditation or yoga. As soon as I’ve started that process my head’s clear, I’m flowing, the inspiration just comes. I write so much in the mornings. My mind is fresh and ready to go. I need to go to that stillness. As soon as I drown everything else out, that’s when all the bars and song ideas and inspiration starts to pour out. Which is probably counterproductive to meditation, cause you’re supposed to completely turn everything off, but for me, I’ll take the inspiration when it comes. When I push everything else away and I take some time for stillness and myself, that’s when the inspiration really comes. In the studio, it used to be I would get beats and then write and then go record but I definitely don’t work that way anymore. Now I’m in the studio building with producers from bottom to top, writing the song, kicking ideas off each other. And usually for me that’s sober, or I’ll smoke a little bit of weed or have a few beers, but I’m better all together when I’m sober so it’s been a pretty sober and sharper experience lately. The creative process for me takes flow, and to get into that flow I need to get in my groove in every other aspect of my life. Stress is my biggest creative killer, so learning how to eliminate the stressors in my life has been so vital in creating more space for that creative flow.
What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not recording or working on music?
Flirt [I think I’m laughing at this more than she is, ‘cause homegirl is pretty serious]. Cupcake. Exercise. Be in nature. Hang out with my family and friends.
Do you have any pre-show rituals or superstitions?
It used to be drink as much as possible. These days though I take a moment to ground myself. I have so much on my plate at all times and I often take the driver’s seat and run the whole show. So I can be extremely scattered on show days. And my mom is always like, ‘you need to ground yourself and chill for a second, be quiet, don’t be on your phone.’ I like to imagine cords from the bottom of my feet literally tying and grounding me to the earth.
Do you have a morning routine?
This year I feel like I’ve been in a different city every day so it’s so necessary to create that morning routine. And for me it’s wake up, have a cup of coffee, go for a run, check my email, then I can start my day. Running has been a game changer for me. Getting out and running has forced me to go and see whatever city I’m in and it’s been amazing.
Let’s talk about Peach House Records.
I started Peach House Records a year a half ago with every intention to find a bunch of artists and make a badass clique of females, a conglomerate you know. And I realized that I wasn’t focusing on my own career enough at all. I needed something to offer others. So detour back to Blimes Brixton, I’ve been focusing on my music this year and my album comes out in March of next year. So once that is done I plan to really go hard finding some more artists that want to release music with us and I’ve been scouting a bunch of artists, listening to a lot of stuff. And also building the team so that I’m not the only one working on it.
You’ve been on the scene for a while now. What advice would you give to aspiring, up-and-coming artists out there?
Don’t settle for mediocre shit. Make all your products your best products. We’re in an era where we can easily get to the tools to make something sound really good or look really good. Don’t be lazy. Don’t be satisfied with something that’s less than amazing.
‘Cause that’s what’s gonna make you stand out and be digestible to your average everyday person and other artists. Other artists listen to other artists probably more than your average human being and we all know what it looks like to have your shit together so take it seriously. Other than that, it would have to be persistence. Keep fucking going. Even if you are putting out mediocre shit on your way to the good shit, get to the good shit. Don’t give up before you do because you can get there. Finally, and one that’s been really important for me is to be yourself. If you’re trying to give people anything less than who you really are they don’t want it. When you’re comfortable with yourself and you love yourself and you’re okay with being vulnerable, that’s what people can relate to and that’s what people want to see in somebody that they’re investing in. Be genuine. Be a perfectionist. And be persistent.
Let’s talk about evolution. How would you describe your evolution as an artist and what major occurrences or lack thereof occurred to bring about the changes?
On a timeline, it was like this: In the first grade I heard “Waterfalls” and it was my favorite, favorite song. I memorized every lyric. I would get on my desk when my teacher left and rap it. I was obsessed with TLC. So I first fell in love with hip-hop when I heard TLC. I grew up listening to hip-hop, soul, and blues music. Then when I was 11 I took an afterschool program on beat making. I wrote a spoken word poem and turned it into a rap, and then I started rapping. That year, people started battling in the schoolyard and that’s when I became Oh Blimey. So 12 years old now and I’m completely immersed in hip-hop; I’m writing it, I’m producing it, I’m using it as therapy and I’m influenced by what’s out. So at that time, it’s the raunchy, over-sexualized, cocky, over-the-top shit. I grew up thinking that’s how I had to be if I wanted to be in hip-hop. And especially overcompensating for being white, for being female, for being gay, for being overweight. Just compensating for everything I went extra hard with the party lyrics, the raunchy lyrics, the frontin’ ass shit, and I would say that’s what made me such a good battle rapper. When I turned 21, I got into battle rap for real. That was putting on an act, that was ‘Ima kill you’ bars, that was ‘fuck your mom’ bars, really over-the-top shit and I had created this persona for myself. 3 years ago I realized that had nothing to do with who I am as a person. There was a complete disconnect between my art and who Sam is and I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t be this falsified version of myself, this actor. And people really liked that version of me, Oh Blimey. I didn’t though. I hated it.
That’s when I realized I needed to step away from battle rap and focus on my music because that’s what I was here for in the first place, music. So I completely disconnected with Oh Blimey. I was going to completely get rid of it, bury that part of me and delete all the videos, but it’s part of my story. I’m cool with talking about it, I’m cool with reliving some of that shit because it got me to where I am today, which is in the hands of Method Man so that’s really tight and I have to show gratitude. And it also gave me hella confidence. So, stepped away from battle rap, really focused on my music and then I got this opportunity to start this record label [Peach House Records] and I’ve been working with an incredible team of producers that have gotten the vision, gotten my story, and I’ve finally started to make the music that I wanted to make my whole life. So now here I am, almost 2018, and finally feeling like I’m coming into my truth and my light as an artist as Blimes Brixton.
What’s next for Blimes Brixton?
I’ve got an album due out in March, I’ve got some tour dates lined up after that. I’m going to be building Peach House Records. The team is finally starting to come together and I couldn’t be more excited. It’s crazy ‘cause you would think now is when you have a sigh of relief ‘cause you’ve been working so hard and it’s finally starting to come together but now I’ve got this fire under my ass and I’m ready to keep it going. What else can I do? Who else can I work with? What else can we establish? How many more companies can we create? How much more financial abundance can we bring in to share with everybody else? I’m here for it.
It’s ambitious as hell. But if anyone can make it happen, it’s Blimes Brixton. So we’ll be here for it, cheering her on.
Be sure to follow Blimes on all her socials so you’ll be in the know when her single with Method Man drops, when her new album is out, and when you can catch her on tour.