IMAN is a rare gem of an artist. Her vocal prowess forges soul sounds with R&B vibes in an effortlessly laid-back British way, and her prolific songwriting credits add immense gravitas to her already-stunning lyrics that make her acoustic performances that much more sublime to watch.
With a back catalogue of chart hits written for and with the likes of Ed Sheeran, Rudimental, Mike Dean (producer credits for Kanye West etc) and Wilkinson, IMAN is now making headway on the stage herself. With gigs at Isle of Wight Festival and Radio 1's Hackney Weekend already under her belt, this summer sees her head to Brighton to perform at the now-legendary The Great Escape festival.
IMAN is a pure pleasure to watch and talk to! We caught up with the rising star before her intimate London gig at The Lucky Pig Cocktail Club in Soho.
IMAN wears Scala sunglasses in tortoiseshell
What’s the best thing about performing an intimate gig like your set at The Lucky Pig Cocktail Bar?
I love intimate gigs especially when the stage is close to the crowd. I get to really read them and them me. A more intimate connection is made I think.
When did you realise you wanted to be a music artist?
I always knew I wanted to be on stage, performing feels very natural to me and always has done. As a kid I would spend most my time making up little songs and rhymes that I would force my poor brother to listen to?
What has been your favourite moment as an artist/songwriter so far?
Having my newest release WISHING get to #3 on the UK Urban chart was pretty satisfying. I was the only independent artist on the list and above Rihanna. I was initially told getting into the top 5 would be fiercely competitive so it’s a huge achievement for me.
IMAN wears Pavilion sunglasses in frosted clear
You’ve written and recorded with the likes of Ed Sheeran and Mike Dean already and have been championed by CLASH magazine. What’s been your biggest achievement to date in your eyes?
I think still being able to make music and recognise my growth from what I was like starting out to now. I used to feel very insecure about my ability and though I still have loads more to learn and I want to grow, I feel confident now in terms of what I bring to the table as an artist. This is something I can say I feel proud of.
If you could be any other artist/musician for one day, who would you pick and what would you do?
I’d pick Drake. I really rate his songwriting and he always seems to be having so much fun with it. His output is amazing, he’s a pretty prolific artist to me.
You’ve performed some incredible covers tonight. If you could choose anyone to cover your latest single, who would you like to see adapt it?
Wow, what a question! It would be so interesting to hear how an artist like Tracey Chapman or even Sade would interpret my song. They both have such different vocal tones and style to me. I can imagine they would totally slow it down and give it a whole new direction.
Who are your musical influences?
I rate a lot of UK artists such as Grades, Daneo, Ms.Dynamite, Wiley, Skepta, Kano Akala, Angel and Ray BLK. For me they all have a strong sense of identity and really own their sound. I’m influenced by them for sure. My influences would also be my personal life experiences and situations that have happened to close friends of mine.
Your latest single 'Wishing' is a great summer track! What’s your favourite festival to go to? Are you playing any this year?
Yes I’m playing Great Escape this year and am really looking forward to it. I’m also looking forward to going to LoveBox. The line up is super dope and it seems to be evolving in a big way every year.
If you weren’t doing music, what would you be doing? Do you have any other passions?
I loved acting at school and perhaps I’d be doing that. I love animals too, maybe I’d be doing something in that field but would most likely be singing on the weekends!
What do you love most about London? Any favourite spots?
I love the diversity in food, music, fashion and language. London is a place of opportunity whereby no matter what your circumstance you are encouraged to be the best you can be and there will always be a course out there for you.
IMAN wears Pavilion sunglasses in frosted clear
How would you describe your off-stage style in 3 words?
Casual, urban and feminine.
What or who is your biggest fashion influence?
I really like Nicole Ritchie and Solange Knowles as well as FKA TWIGS. Their use of colour and texture is always on point.
Any words of advice for young singer/songwriters starting out?
Be productive everyday, even if it’s the smallest thing and keep your circle positive. Be honest with yourself and don’t be afraid of letting people know what you want and what you’re about.
IMAN's latest single, WISHING, is available to stream and download now here.
IMAN is also giving away a FREE Download to a never before released song on her official website, www.imanmusic.co.uk. Check it out!
Missed our last blog story? Catch up with our 'Q&A with actor George Webster'