Interview: Soom T (November 2016)

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Highlight of the 2016 edition of the London International Arts Festival (LIAF), and one of the most popular and expressive MCs of the UK music scene, Soom T recently brought her urban sound, provocative lyrics, resolute character and Indian background to London’s Rich Mix, for an incendiary gig.

We had a quick but entertaining chat with her and the opportunity to understand a bit more about her career, music and perspective over the UK scene. Because when it comes to Soom T, there’re no half measures.

Looking into her first steps in music, we discovered that Soom T has a long-standing relationship with lyrics. Before music, it was indeed about poetry and words.

When I was 9 or 10 years old, my father encouraged me and my sister to write poetry, because he was into poetry. Then, when I was 13, I started to listen to all those hip-hop 1990s artists. So I decided to start rapping. From then I never stopped. To be honest, since that moment I started to consider myself as a rapper.”

The following years solidified and sharpened the relation, and today Soom T lives in symbiosis with her music.

For me, playing music is like cooking: I know it so well. I have my routine and my practice. I know what I need to do it and express myself in music, and I simply love it. I can decide to go to the studio or stay at home to play music, but I know that if I won’t play for a full day, I will feel sad about it. I can get lost without music: I’m not even answering my phone!

Throughout her career, she played a wide range of styles and has been influenced by worlds-apart traditions. For this reason, we asked her how her moods of the moment influence her songwriting.

It happens at times that I just start singing and maybe I feel that my voice has a jazzy feeling, so I immediately record it. Then, my mood constantly influences it. When I feel sunny I always play reggae, for example. While when I’m angry, my lyrics reflect it.”

In 2012, Soom T released a song titled “Glasgow Girls”, so we tried to update that subject, asking what is her relation with her city music scene.

I feel part of the Glasgow music scene. Recently, it is changing a lot because there’s a new generation of musicians, producers and DJs out there, and I feel to be part of the old generation now. Anyway, it is still really good and comforting to see that there’re many things happening in Glasgow.”

Then we broadened our focus to the UK music scene, and Soom T’s words became less kind and positive.

I think that the UK scene is far more commercial than the Glasgow one. It’s just like America: too much oriented toward commercial music. There’s a lot of music that is produced only for selling. Like in the US, where music often promotes guns and violence, also here in the UK it sounds unreal. It all sounds the same, they are all the same commercial dumb sounds. If we consider the programming aired and presented through TV and radio today, you can see that there’s not so much intelligent music available.

Actually, there’s a lot of intelligent music out there and that’s something we should concentrate more on. The problem is that it is not promoted and overlooked by the mainstream media because it doesn’t fit in the agenda. That’s why the music I make and I listen to are mainly happening in the underground, because they’re too real to be played by the mainstream.”

We inevitably asked her what she was listening to at the moment.

I listen to a lot of reggae sound system artists from today, like Charlie P and YT . Then Stand High, because their music is very intelligent as well.”

At the same time, Soom T has become a music celebrity in France, and we wanted to understand if there was any particular reason for her success across the Channel.

“To be honest, I’ve never figured out the reason, so I can’t give you an answer. Maybe [she laughs] they have a better music taste in France.”

Our chat with Soom T was drawing to its end, so we wanted to know more about her future plans and her next album, which is already on the agenda.

My last album is only one-year-old, and I don’t want and don’t like to publish an album every year. It takes me time to write and produce a new record because I like to take care of it. I’ll probably try to release my next one at the end of 2017.

“In the meantime, I’m constantly on tour. I’m off to France soon to play many gigs and I’m also planning to go back to play in Brazil.”

To close the interview, we asked Soom T how she wanted to present her music to any new listeners.

The only thing that I want to say about my music is that I think that it’s very passionate.  Because the main drive behind it is passion.”

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