From early explorations of folk and piano to later studies of jazz and R&B, Halima’s career has evolved, making pit stops in pop-punk, neo-soul, and electronic along the way. Now, her sound pulls unapologetically from a broad musical spectrum, nodding sonically to those defining experiences and pushing forward toward a more pointed exploration of self. Raised between Lagos and London – and now based in Brooklyn – Halima draws from a tri-continental story that started as a student exploring the worlds of folk, jazz, and theater. Following her 2021 EP XYZ, her new EXU EP is her label debut and first project with drink sum wtr. Let’s take a closer look.

As someone raised between Lagos and London and now based in Brooklyn, how do you navigate the intersections of these diverse cultural landscapes within your music, and how does your upcoming EP, EXU, reflect this journey of cultural synthesis?

I think it’s less so navigating and more so embodying it. I figured out not so long ago that all these intersections exist as parallels within me. And instead of being separate they are congruent and this EP is the result of that. 

Your musical journey encompasses folk, theater, and jazz influences. How did these tastes come about and how do you navigate blending these seemingly disparate Genres?

I grew up an only child and was always looking for things to do. I took playwriting courses, formed a punk band, and started the school newspaper amongst other things. I just loved to create and there were no limits. So these things never felt disparate to me. They became pillars along the way. Theater gave me confidence and an ability to take up space. Jazz gave me a language of nuance and freedom. And folk gave me stories and the ability to share them. I remember being told in art school that these pillars were disparate but I realize now that that’s just another way to say “unfamiliar together”. But it’s familiar to me 🙂 

Exploring the eclectic mix of sounds on this particular project, could you pinpoint specific artists or musical movements that may have inspired you?

The whole project is an ode to my influences. My mum would drive me home from after school clubs and she’d have Kiss FM or Capital or Heart playing and I would hear artists like Mis-teeq, Jamelia, Sugababes and Sade. It rains a lot in London you know, so I would literally stare out the window and yearn. I could imagine myself making music that would feel like that. I’d also listened to Tracy Chapman, Des’ree and Joan Armatrading and had that same feeling. I think I just saw myself in these black women and it felt like there was space for me through them. And then when I moved to New York and met my friend Ben, he had the curiosity and taste to help me put all these things together. And we made EXU.

You have previously mentioned that you see “making music as a spiritual practice”. Has music always been a fundamental part of your life or a learned passion you picked up later on?

Certainly a fundamental part of life. Like necessary for survival. Once I discovered that, there  was no way to unknow it. And now I have this forever companion, no matter what. It’s very comforting. It helps me make sense of the world. 

EXU touches both personal depth and universal appeal, following relatable topics running from heartbreak to self-discovery. Can you outline your creative process when creating new music? How do you maintain authenticity in your expression while ensuring that your music speaks to a diverse audience?

You’re giving me too much credit! I’m not sure that I have any control of that. I can only be honest and true to what I have experienced. And chances are I’m not the only one that’s experienced these things. So hopefully it resonates. 

The Yoruba deity Exu represents change, chaos, and unpredictability. How do you translate these themes into your personal experiences as an ever-evolving artist? Are there any big changes coming up for Halima?

Haha always! Change is a beautiful constant, and I’ve been learning that. Life has been more hectic lately, and I’ve been confronting a lot of the chaos and unpredictability I sang about in EXU. I guess the spirit of EXU has stayed with me. But it is always a great reminder that I can only worry about what I can control. Everything else is wasted energy, and I need that.  

You’ll soon embark on a tour with Elliot Moss, performing a line-up of dates through Washington D.C., New York, and Boston this April. How did this come about? Are there any other specific artists that you see yourself collaborating or working with in the future?

I learnt so much from Elliot, he is an incredible musician and has the sweetest fan base. I’d love to perform with WILLOW and work with Sampha one day, I think they’re remarkable artists to witness in a lifetime.

May 24th 2024
drink sum wtr

1. Awaken
2. Ways
3. Don’t
4. Overdue
5. Samantha

About drink sum wtr:
drink sum wtr is a true culture label constructed for creatives, bringing forth unique voices in hip-hop, R&B, and adjacent sounds. drink sum wtr seeks to return to an artist development driven label approach, swimming against the current in an algorithm-saturated music landscape, and focusing on championing distinctive, art-forward voices.


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