Some songs are made to be played on beach-bars under scorching Mediterranean sun – with ice buckets of Rose close to hand, ideally. The debut solo release by West Londoner Imani Williams, “Don’t Need No Money”, is just such a song: with it’s foot-tapping, house inflected beat and killer vocals you’re sure to be hearing it everywhere over the next few months if you’re lucky enough to be jetting off somewhere sunny. The surprising part? Williams’ powerhouse voice is only 16 year’s old.
The BRIT School alumnus, who began dancing aged eight and penned her first song at ten, was signed to a management company at the tender age of 14 after a suitably impressed music teacher put her forward for the opporunity. They obviously had great foresight, as Imani has already struck gold this year as a collaborator on Sigala’s “Say You Do”. A favor Sigala then repaid by featuring alongside “All Cried Out” singer Blonde on “Don’t Need No Monday”. The track’s super-polished sound and addictive hook make a little more sense when you hear that the preternaturally talented Williams trained under industry heavyweights including DJ Fresh and Invisible Men. Suffice to say, the future’s looking bright for this one.
We caught up with the burgeoning pop queen to talk her (really) early work, playing at Capital’s Summertime Ball, and why Tinie Tempah is her ideal collab partner.
When did you first realise you wanted to sing professionally?
I don’t remember a particular point, I just remember being around 6 or 7 and always singing my heart out in the mirror to music videos and going into my own zone.
I used to put on shows for my mum and anyone who came around our house – forcing them to watch me!
I guess it was kind of annoying but I knew that I liked the way I felt whilst singing and realising ‘wow I could do this for a job!’
You wrote your first song when you were 10 – what was it about?
It was about making a big change in the world – not the typical concept for a 10 year old?! I remember thinking it was really good at the time…but when I hear it now I can’t stop laughing.
What makes you want to make music?
It’s the feeling of having an idea/concept in your mind, starting with a completely blank canvas and then suddenly you have this whole creation – it’s an amazing thing.
It comes from your own mind and then it translates to people all over the place. That makes me happy!
You went to the BRIT school – what was it like going to a performing arts school?
It’s one of the things in my life I’m glad I’ve done! It’s so sick to have a passion and be surrounded by other people who share the same interest as you.
It definitely help build up my confidence and I think it’s a very good foundation for anyone who loves being creative.
How was balancing school work with recording and performing?
Honestly, it was a bit insane! At one point I went straight from an English GCSE to my first gig ever which was MTV Crashes with Sigala… 30,000 people!
It kind of felt like a double life – like I was Hannah Montana or something crazy! But I have a great team around me to help me out, so I got through it all!
You were signed when you were only 14! How did it come about?
I know, it’s crazy. I was writing and singing myself until my singing teacher introduced me to my managers.
I sang for them, wrote and recorded half a song and then they signed me on the spot – it was kinda a dream come true! I couldn’t believe it.
Sum up your sound in three words?
Explosive Anthemic Pop!!!
Your track “Don’t Need No Money Ft. Sigala and Blonde” is the perfect track for an Ibiza beach party! What was the starting point for creating it?
I’ve worked with Sigala loads and we did “Say You Do” together. It was great to feature on his track cause he’s killing it right now!
Loving working with him and loving previous work of Blonde’s, we just got together in the studio! All our styles blended together, which was pretty sick, it’s like a house pop slightly tropical track and great for summer!
It’s kind of insane having both Sigala and Blonde on my track cause they’re so incredibly talented.
Who’s your dream collaboration?
It’s obviously been very amazing to work with Sigala and Blonde – I respect both a lot.
I’d also love to work with Tinie Tempah- his flows and melodies are sick. Justin Bieber would be mental. Who’s knows.. maybe all of us together!!
You performed with Sigala at the Capital Summertime Ball in front of huge crowds – what was that like?
I just can’t describe it … I mean my heart was racing so much, but once I got on stage, I tried my best to take everything in!
A crowd of 80,000 is pretty surreal and I was so grateful to see people singing along and for all the support!
I love sharing the stage with Sigala, all his tracks are bangers anyway, so I’m having my own party on the side of the stage!
What can we expect from you during the rest of the year?
I’ll be doing lots of festivals and live shows – performing the new single alongside some other music with a lot of dancing – so it should be really fun, I love performing live and interacting with people.
There will also be some more new music coming out…I can’t wait!