Music Q&A:
Olami Still

A lyricist since he was eight, his new single Flex Like Dat has been winning attention from big names like Tinie Tempah and Stormzy

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How would you describe your sound?
I would say my sound is versatile. Its main core is rap. I grew up listening to different genres so my sound varies depending on the mood of the song or the vibe I’m going for in the studio. Some of my music is influenced by 1990s hip-hop but sometimes it draws in elements of other music, for example trap, R&B, afrobeat and grime.

What informs your music and songwriting?
I would say my music is influenced by my surroundings or whatever’s on my mind. I can be in a good, bad or funny situation and just turn it into verse or song. To me music is about expression so whatever you’re writing about you gotta feel it. Sometimes the lyrics naturally flow out my mouth when I’m in the studio. Most times I’m in my Notepad on my iPhone though.

In my song Glide I freestyled the first verse in the studio. I went home, sat down and thought thoroughly about what I wanted to say on the second verse, wrote it down and went back to the studio like the next week to record again. Sometimes it’s good to freestyle so you can rap or sing without too much thought and go with the flow but for me sometimes I like to think carefully about what I’m gonna say or how I’m gonna sound on a track.

How have you evolved as an artist over the years?
Before my music started growing I was just writing raps while listening to beats on YouTube. Just going with the flow. Over time I’ve learnt how to structure my songs. There’s more than just verses and choruses – there are bridges, interludes and different elements that make songs work.

I’ve got more confident with performing on stage too. I used to have stage fright as a kid but the way I see it now is that as an artist it’s your responsibility to keep the crowd entertained, whether the people in the audience know you or not. Your performance just has to be clear and you should have fun with it.

What are you up to at the moment artistically?
Right now I’m trying to tell the world my story but still have fun with it. I want to give my audience a bit more about Olami. At the same time, I’m experimenting with different sounds, writing to sounds I might not have written to a year ago. I believe you should always push yourself out of your comfort zone artistically. Pressure makes diamonds, as they say.

What’s on your rider?
I don’t have one yet but one day I’ll include water, Pringles, Maltesers, maybe a cheeky bottle of Henny! For now I’ll take whatever I’m given – I’m cool.

Tell us your most embarrassing or surreal experience.
Performing at Ministry of Sound in March. It was my first time and, yeah, it was massive. There must have been like a thousand people there that night. It’s just cool to see people from all types of places vibe to your music. Love to my bro DJ Tiiny for bringing me out for that one!

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