Manchester is churning out quality artists and making moves in a big way. So it's no surprise when Nigerian-born poet Dámì Sule dives onto our radar and leaves a impactful splash behind him. His sound is both moving and thought-provoking, creating imagery that illustrates the political and social climate we are facing in the world today. We caught up up Dámì to get a deeper insight into his latest project Crayons EP.
When did poetry and music become a core part of your life?
I began to write poems in my first year of college while I was still 16. On a random day coming home from college I just felt the urge to write everything that was on my mind and everything I was worrying about. I think I owe this to the Suli Breaks, George the Poet and a couple of American poetry slams I stumbled on across YouTube. This started my fascination with poetry, I would often watch Def Poetry Jam over and over again, watching the likes of Kanye West, Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu. I was fascinated by how expressive it was, at the time I was at college where I felt I didn't really fit in with anyone. I found comfort in my solitude, spending time on my own allowed me to gain a certain level of understanding of myself and constantly reflecting on my own actions and its implications.
I used to have a blog called ‘more than plain sight’ which I ran for about 18 months, I used it as a platform to share my poems and stories. Then I started attending open mic events in Manchester, I think it helped increase my confidence and delivery.
At the start of this year, I was invited to the studio by Just Rome who wanted some poetry at the end of his song, from then I knew I all I wanted to do was record, and continue to be in the studio environment.
You were born and raised in Nigeria and are now based in Manchester. How does your heritage play a role in your music?
It plays a significant role in my music, a role that I haven't fully understood yet. My music isn't Afrobeat but I want people to know I’m Nigerian, that I appreciate my roots, culture and tribe. I think this comes across even in the way I write my name, Dámì with the accent. A Nigerian who sees it would know I’m Yoruba and that's very important to me.
Crayons is your debut EP and a fantastic introduction to you as an artist. How did you choose the tracks that were going to make it on the final project?
I recorded about 10 tracks knowing I could only pick 6. I listened and listened for over a month for tracks that didn't really fit the order I was going for. The final 6 had the right mellow vibe I wanted to portray, as well as the right messages so the listeners would know what I stand for.
What are some of the themes and messages behind the EP?
I named the EP Crayons because crayons are used to create images. For me that meant the freedom to express my emotions, to create a body of work that was packed full of powerful and positive messages. This helped shape the theme of the EP which was to express every emotions and feelings.
Je nwi Temi which translates ‘let me say what i have to say’, covers the power in free speech, saying everything I wanted to say without fearing other people’s opinions. I think that really helped set the tone for Crayons. Then Self Love showed my feelings towards the importance of loving yourself, being comfortable in your own skin, being strong , regardless of what life throws at us.
I’d be interested to know how you work in the studio. Do you have any mantras, routines or “must-haves” before you record a track?
I am very easy going. I usually have everything planned out in my head before going to the studio, I know how I want it to sound, what emotions I want to portray. Usually I record sitting down? That could be regarded as a routine I guess.
Your sound can be likened to that of Kojey Radical’s. Is he someone that inspires your art form? Who else do you look up to in the industry – both in music and life?
Kojey was the guy I first saw blending poetry so immensely in his music that he created sounds that could not be categorised. For me that was powerful, I watched blogs call him a grime artist, I saw some call him a rapper. He was the first artist I looked at and felt like he is more than the music, he was every leaf of creative, from the words to the visuals. So yes, he inspires me. He inspires me to build something of gold, something that can not be taken from me, something different and something me.
In Je nwi temi I said “I want to paint masterpieces with my words…” Wretch 32 inspires me to do that, I appreciate the way he uses his words, his verses are gold to me. Jacob banks for the way he puts me in my feelings all the time. Goldlink, Anderson.paak, Little Simz, Jorja Smith, Laura Mvula, Labrinth, Asa, RayBlk, Kendrick Lamar, Sam Henshaw, Burna Boy, the list goes on forever.
My family inspire me and fuel everything I do. I learnt about sacrifice, being strong physically, mentally and spiritually, and the importance of God. Their presence play a major factor in my life and decisions.
If you could pick an artist to work with – dead or alive – who would that be?
Too many. Tom Misch, Adele, Jacob Banks, Wretch 32, Kojey Radical, Jorja Smith, RayBlk, Sade, Beyonce, Kanye West, Sam Henshaw...
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years and how do you plan to evolve as a breakthrough artist?
Evolving as a breakthrough artist for me just means evolving within myself. Experiencing more, growing more. And hopefully that presents itself in the music. I want to work with more producers, even those out of the UK and create more unique sounds. In the next 5 years I see myself touring in America. I have this image of myself drinking Supermalt from a wine glass in my jacuzzi of Nike trainers. Picture that!
What is next for Dámì Sule in the near future?
The video for Je nwi temi comes out on Sunday 8th October at 3pm, I’m looking forward to sharing it with the world. Apart from that, more music, collaborations, and live performances.
Crayons EP has been on rotation here at the Pit London office and we are looking forward to more releases from Dámì in the future. Make sure you check out his forthcoming visual and hit the play button below for some introspective sounds.
Words by Tramell Nicole