Interview: Rising R&B star Lil Halima on the release of her debut EP
Image: Jonathan Vivaas Kise
Norwegian R&B singer-songwriter Lil Halima (full name Lillian Halima Anderssen) is fast becoming one of the most exciting new talent on the music scene. Signed to Def Jam and Universal Music after being discovered singing on Instagram, she has just released her debut EP love songs for bad lovers. A remarkably assured collection of seven tracks, the music is R&B at its heart but is infused with an eclectic mix of other genres creating a thoroughly unique yet warmly familiar sound. ‘Would U’ vibes with a summery trip-hop sound, ‘Bother’ delves intp hip-hop and rap while EP opener and standout track ‘Train’ is a silky smooth, gorgeous electro-pop track - with everything presided over by Lil Halima’s warm, emotive vocals. Women In Pop recently caught up with Lil Halima to discuss her background, career and creating the EP.
Hi Lil Halima! Let’s take it all the way back to the beginning - how did you get started in music?
I’ve always been doing music. Music was like one of the foundations I had at home and in school growing up. Many kids used to have the playground as their place to shine or show off. Finding out who’s cool and who’s not. Being a bully or being bullied. I feel like I kind of was left out from that space, while having music and art as my playground where I got to shine and decide how cool I was.
What musicians inspired you when you were growing up?
My parents used to play a lot of hip hop and R&B from when they were young. I grew up on a lot of Stevie Wonder, TLC, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson - the list goes on. My grandmother also used to sing a lot of old Norwegian songs, so that fell into the mix as well. When I grew older, I explored indie folk, dark indie music, punk, and even metalcore - although that was just a phase!
Your debut EP love songs for bad lovers is incredible, congratulations! What was your inspiration behind the songs?
Thank you! I was going through my first serious relationship and just wrote about that experience. The title is kind of ironic though because I don’t think I’m a bad lover, just because I’ve never done it before.
Can you tell us a little about how you created the EP?
I wrote most of it in Stockholm, with the amazing producers Gustav Nystrom and Teo&Frans. The only two songs I didn’t make in Stockholm were ‘DWBYF' which I made in Oslo with an incrediblly talented producer, as well as just a very kind human being, Eirik Tillerli, and ‘Train’, which is produced by Gustav Nystrom but written by me on a train.
Do you have a favourite track on the EP, and why?
’Would U’! It hits all the places I want it to hit, and I think i did a very good job on the lyrics. My favourite line of the EP is from ‘Would U’ and it’s when I say that it “feels like we’re earthwalking up on the moon, right? / So wrong and so beautiful”. Moonwalking on earth, earthwalking on the moon - it’s just something that actually doesn’t make sense but does makes sense.
Is there a meaning behind the name of the EP?
The title is as mentioned before ironic. It’s for new lovers coping with a feeling never felt before and how we’re called bad lovers if we fail a little bit. No one would say “you’re trash, just stop” if you did something wrong in a sport you never tried before. Love feels like an extreme sport and I never tried it before. Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose, sometimes it feels like a game, but mostly just a thing where I’m scared of falling and breaking. Hence the title.
What was it like posing with the snake on the cover?!
It was soooo nice! The snake was so sweet and kind. But then I went home and read an article about the same species, a little smaller than the one I held, eating a 10 year old whole and alive while his friends were watching. Then I had nightmares the next three nights.
There are so many incredible female singers coming out of Norway lately – what do you think is so good about the Norwegian music scene at the moment?
I think we’re just so free! We realise our opportunities living in a country like this, and we take it.
What are your thoughts on the gender equality debate? Do you think we have a problem with sexism in the music industry?
Hell yes. I’m not gonna say more, when I start to talk about this I’ll never stop. But for sure, 1000000000%.
What musicians are you listening to at the moment?
DaniLeigh, Duckwrth, Goldlink, Bon Iver, James Blake (always), and the new album by Blood Orange.
What’s next for Lil Halima?
A lot of things are coming next year! I’m spending my time in Northern Norway, London and Stockholm making music and growing!