A rapper, singer and poet, you may have encountered Australian muso Imbi The Girl at numerous Australian festivals so far, including Groovin The Moo, Listen Out, Party In The Paddock, Secret Garden and Laneway over the last year or so.
The stylistically-eclectic non-binary artist has also toured with the likes of Odette, been featured on Briggs' The New Australia Beats 1 show and even worked with Pedestrian.TV to create a short video about the basics of gender identity.
In June, they will kick off their debut Australian headline tour, with their new song I Used To featuring SUPEREGO in hand - it's a jazzy, poetic, soulful song that shows off the breadth of their talent.
Young but wise, we caught up with Imbi ahead of the tour to chat all things music, identity and where they see themselves in 5 years.
How are you feeling ahead of your first headline tour, now that you have the experience of supporting Sampa The Great, Odette and playing Groovin The Moo and Listen Out?
Mostly, I’m incredibly excited. I have all of these ideas about how to create a really special show and foster an experience that leaves people feeling and knowing that magick is real but I mean, it’s also my first headline tour so I’ve got to reign it in a bit and remember it doesn’t all have to happen at once. I’m just really, really excited to share what I’ve been working on with everyone.
What’s the most important thing to you when you’re writing music – is it catharsis for yourself or is it about the people listening and what they feel when they hear it?
Honestly it fluctuates. Sometimes the songs bring ultimate catharsis for me, sometimes I don’t feel like they relate to me very much at all and instead feel like they exist to serve others. However, there are also songs that come to me and I can’t really figure out why. They don’t feel deeply relevant to me, or the collective but sometimes I’ll sing a song like that a couple of times and suddenly unlock this wealth of knowledge I was unknowingly repressing. Or other times I’ll perform it to my friend while sitting in my backyard and they’ll start crying because it struck a specific emotion chord within them. That song might never be released but it served its purpose for that one friend, you know? I guess there’s a plethora of possibilities as to why a song comes to me and I try not to have too many expectations, just kind of let them be as they are and if anyone can feel anything from them it’s a job well done.
What kind of music did you grow up listening to; who do you think has had the biggest influence on your sound?
With my dad, I listened to A LOT of highly emotional music. Wyclef Jean, the Moulin Rouge soundtrack, The Scorpions, etc. I really think that had a super profound effect on me. Connected so intensely to music from a really young age provided me with endless passion and drive to recreate that kind of emotional connection through music. With my mum, I listened to Macy Gray, Amy Winehouse and other femme figures who were so unapologetically true to their craft. You can hear the vulnerability in their music from the moment they sing the first note. All these artists have majorly influenced the way I engage with music and the way I aim to express myself through it.
Who would you like to collaborate with, alive or dead?
Honestly, collaborating with Wyclef would be an absolute dream. (I’m thinking something as emotional as 911, a track he did with Mary J. Blige, if you haven’t heard it, give it a listen.
As a non-binary identity in the Australian music industry, what would you like to see more of in 2019? What do you think has improved in recent years?
I’d like to see more First Nations people running things both on and behind stages. I’d like to see more queers, more trans folx, more unapologetic individuals being welcomed into the public eye with open arms. I’d like to see more real connection, less focus on sales and money and more focus on collective efforts to save the planet. I’d like to see revolution, I’d like to see collaboration, I’d like to see change. All of this is as a human, irrelevant of your identity I’d hope you want to see the same. We’re doing well but change isn’t happening quick enough, we are literally running out of time. I’d like to see more action.
Tell us more about the writing process behind I Used To and how you teamed up with SUPEREGO.
Writing with SUPEREGO was so lovely! I rocked up to their place to hang whilst in Perth for Listen Out and everything felt so fluid and organic. It felt really nice and easy hanging out with them all. I of course didn’t hesitate to bring up my favourite spiritual/political/personal conversation topics and we had some really cool conversations. After that the song came to be relatively quickly. It was a pretty seamless experience, one thing flowed smoothly into the next and before I knew it, we had a magickal track on our hands.
Where do you see your career going in 5 years time?
Everything will be different. It’ll really depend on the state of the world, but regardless, it will be big.
What has been your proudest moment or career highlight so far?
The whole journey is a highlight. Honestly, everything is so connected it all kind of blurs into one. I’m really proud of my next EP though. Creating it was a powerful experience and the end product is everything I dreamt it would be and more. I really can’t wait to share that music and more about the experience behind its creation.
What are you watching on TV right now and what was the last album you were obsessed with?
I’m watching this anime series called Hunter x Hunter!!! IT'S SO GOOD!!!!!!!! Hmmm, in terms of album, Miss Universe by NilÜfer Yanya really got me good for a while there, but I’m currently looking for my next obsession. I’m like in-between albums at the moment haha, I haven’t quite found ‘the one’ for this new phase I’m in.
If you had to describe your music in 5 words for someone who hadn’t heard it, what would you say?
Emotional, vulnerable, honest, soulful, wholesome. 5 words isn’t enough though haha.