The KISS FM DJ and host of Spotify’s Who We Be TALKS_ podcast, Henrie, talks where she sources her inimitable energy.
In this collaboration series with Relentless Energy, Wonderland sits down with four talents on the rise to discuss their journeys to the helm of London’s creative sphere, and what the concept of living Without Limits means to them.
Presenter, DJ, and content creator Henrie formulated the idea for her career-supercharging docuseries Is Your Area Changing? when merely on a bus travelling back from seeing a friend. She was at a crossroads in her life post-graduating university, for which she’d been living outside of the capital. The bus route took her through Peckham, an area she was a regular frequenter of before a three-year absence due to her studies.“Gentrification had started taking a hold,” she says. “Although, when I drove to my friend’s house during the day, it still felt pretty normal, but then when I came back from her house at night time, everything had completely changed.”
She was in disbelief at the bustling nightlife scene that now inhabited the streets she once knew. “When I was 15, Peckham used to be scary, you wouldn’t wanna be there at night. But I saw parties, I saw all sorts of things, and I thought: ‘Someone should document this!’” However, she didn’t have to ponder who that person could be for long. “I was like, ‘That somebody should be me,’” and, so the series Is Your Area Changing? was born.
The project led to Henrie winning the Dazed 100 fund, granting her the opportunity to work with creatives from underprivileged backgrounds on a collection of short films known as Untold Stories. After a stint on youth-led Brixton radio Reprezent and online station No Signal, today she helms the weekend breakfast slot on trailblazing London station and now national mainstay network, KISS FM, plus co-fronts Spotify’s Who We Be TALKS_ podcast, platforming the stories and individuals at the forefront of Black culture in the UK. Henrie is a 21st-century creative par excellence, at the forefront of culture in her city, with a foot still very much in her underground roots.
We get the low down on how she sources her energy, persevering through creative droughts, and the moments that got her to the platform she stands on today. Head below to read our chat now…
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First of all, what is the first thing you do in the morning when you wake up?
The first thing I do in the morning when I wake up is pray. Sometimes when I forget to pray, I check my phone, but I don’t want to be the person that checks their phone anymore. So I want to pray then brush my teeth and then get in the shower, get ready for the day, and then we go into Twitter, Tiktok and Instagram, etc.
Love it! And, what does the concept of Living Without Limits mean to you?
The concept of living without limits to me means living without a glass ceiling. I remember when I was in sixth form, I got taught about the glass ceiling that women and black women have, which is so unfortunate, because before then I didn’t know it existed, but apparently it does. And being limitless means that the sky is no longer the limit. Neither is there a glass ceiling nor is there any of these things that I guess society wants to impose on me. What if I say no? What if I don’t want to do that? What if I don’t want to live by your rules? So yeah, being limitless kind of means that to me.
I remember that lesson in school! So when do you feel your most creative? And in turn? When do you feel your most energised as well? Do they link together?
I feel my most creative and energised at really random points, like throughout the day. Some people have that thing where they’re sat by themselves and it’s just them or it’s like the sunset, but for me, it just happens randomly. I think of an idea and I have to write it down, or I’ll forget, and when I’m writing it down, things just keep flowing. So it’s like at random points in the day, I don’t have like a moment where I’m the most energised. I wish I had a particular time where I could just sit down and be focused, but I can’t focus for more than 10 minutes at a time. I need to be out and about, and I guess like if I see something in the street, that’s when I get creative or energised. And then I have to like write down in my notes and then I just keep going off that idea.
And, if you could pass on advice to someone struggling with their own creativity, what would it be?
I think, obviously, creativity is different for everybody and how they get inspired is different for everyone. But I think like, definitely draw from the things that you see around you, especially if you are tapping into your creativity because it’s the things that are around you that are going to inspire you regardless. So yeah, don’t not take notice of the things around you. Don’t go through life blissfully ignorant.
Who or where do you source your inspiration if you’re feeling creatively out of touch?
I think when I am not feeling that creative and I want to be creative, it definitely is things that I see around me. Definitely, things on social media that you see as well. And obviously, social media is very saturated at the moment, there’s a lot going on. There are new apps coming out every day, there are things to always sign up to for you to create on there. And I think the best way to, I guess advance yourself in that knowing that there’s so much, is to incorporate all of those ideas. There’s nothing to stop you from doing what somebody else does but doing it in your own way. I heard somewhere, randomly, that a new idea is just 10% more of an old idea, and it is. So the way that you kind of remix that is just by seeing something that you like, something that you feel like you can do and do well, and just making it your own completely.
Can you think of a specific moment in your life like an actual story where you were struggling with said creativity and then did these things to get there? Like, is there a specific moment? You can pinpoint it for us?
Absolutely. So I remember, maybe I just graduated, maybe I was in my early 20s – I still am if anybody asks [laughs]. I didn’t know where I wanted to go with my presenting career, how I wanted to be present or how I was going to do anything. And I just remember riding on a bus to my friend’s house and I was going through Peckham to get to her house during the day – and bear in mind I’d had three years in uni so I hadn’t been back to London or Peckham in like three good years when I used to be there all the time – so I remember going to the house on a bus during the day. It felt pretty normal, but obviously gentrification outside like taking a hold. And then when I came back from my house to her house, and everything had completely changed. And this is the same Peckham during the day and the nighttime, and I was like ‘Woah, when could you ever party in Peckham?’ When I was 15, Peckham used to be scary. I mean, it used to be a place that you couldn’t go that you have to have a group of you – especially if you’re like a girl – you wouldn’t want to be there going out out at night. But on the way back, I saw that parties and all sorts of things. So I just thought, ‘someone should document this’, but then thought, ‘that somebody should be me’. So that’s how I came up with the idea of Is Your Area Changing – which is almost tongue in cheek, but a fun way to document gentrification from someone who has lived and breathed the area. I think that’s what I mean by drawing from what you see in and around your area. Whatever, kind of sparks questions within you. There’s nothing to stop you from exploring that.
I love that story, it’s so inspirational! And finally, obviously, your energy is undeniable. It’s coming across as soon you walked into the room. But do you ever feel pressure to keep that up?
Very good question. I feel like if I’m in an interview, or I’m at work, or I’m somewhere where I need that kind of energy, it just comes naturally, anyway – I can’t even cap. If there’s a camera on me, and I just see the red button on there, suddenly I just go into this mode where I’m like ‘Oh my gosh, guys, it’s Henrie’. But otherwise, if it’s on a down day, and I know that I don’t really need to talk to anyone that day, I will stay at home. No wig, no bra. Just me myself and I – that way I don’t have to really force myself. I don’t go on social media. I don’t force myself to be on ‘Insta or stories or if I don’t want to talk to anyone, I won’t.