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Finding inner peace and mastering self-love: Getting to know Imbi The Girl

24 September 2018 | 10:24 am | Emma Jones

Imbi The Girl is a rare artist, one whose authenticity and genuineness makes you feel like you're getting a warm hug when you listen to them.

IMBI THE GIRL is one of those rare artists. One of those artists who possess such an innate sense of authenticity and genuineness that with any of their songs, they immediately connect with you as the listener. From 'acidic' to 'V.I.P' to 'swell', whilst they are entirely personal and written about imbi's own experiences, they also each have a universal element to it that means that whatever you're experiencing, wherever you are, you're probably going to get something out of imbi's music.

With roots based in poetry, imbi's debut EP, For Me, is a cathartic journey for imbi, serving as a snapshot into their life and dealing with all the pains of growing up, coming out, and learning to love yourself. It's brazen in how open it is, yet warm and optimistic in that everything is going to be okay in the end. Sounding like one big old smile from ear to ear, the EP tackles love, loss, identity and coming out the other side stronger than ever in such a positive and real way: imbi never glosses over the hurt, but rather acknowledges it mindfully and then continues to move along. Almost doubling as a therapy session, there is something just so beautiful about this EP, and as far as debuts go, they don't get much more impressive than For Me.

Currently on the LISTEN OUT tour and having just wrapped up BIGSOUND for this year, we caught up with imbi the girl to talk all about the record, influences and much more. Check it out below!

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Congratulations on the EP! You’ve spoken about how this EP is your chance to clear up what was and get closure on the past, as well as allowing yourself to now be fully open to what’s to come. Some of these songs have existed for a while - do you feel liberated by your decision to release these songs and do you think that liberation in and of itself is a way of opening yourself up to the future?

Hahah yes! Totally! You really hit the nail on the head. Releasing these tracks was not only a joy but also a relief. I feel as though they are perfectly representative of the initial phase of imbi the girl as a project and releasing them is symbolic and the commencement of the next phase. I have a deep love for those songs and for the year and a bit that’s been but the future is so bright and full of possibilities, I can’t wait to meet it with open arms and a clear mind.

You combine poetry with hip-hop, jazz, soul and more - who or what are some of your influences to use your poetic roots as material for music?

When I was in year 9, I stumbled across a YouTube video of James Franco reciting Allen Ginsberg’s poem 'Howl' accompanied by some really gorgeous animation. My angsty self took to it immediately. I started diving deep into Ginsberg and other beatniks' lives to learn more about who they were/how they wrote. I studied to trial of 'Howl' and bought multiple copies of Ginsberg’s work. He was my introduction into spoken word poetry and will always have a spot in my heart. Aside from Ginsberg and the beatniks, I also fell in love with Sarah Kay and other spoken word poets I would find on YouTube. The whole medium just really clicked with me, I was immediately hooked and spent hours upon hours finding more inspiring poetry and watching people pour their hearts out as they vulnerably recite such powerful words.

You’re a very open person, but it feels like ‘swell’ marked a particular moment for you in which things seemed just a lot more peaceful. Did it feel that way for you and if so, what is it about that song that brought you that inner peace?

It's funny, I didn’t really pick up on that until just now but yeah, I guess things were a lot more peaceful. I’m a firm believer that everything is fluid, so I try not to get too attached to any particular feeling or state of mind because I know that one day, things will need to shift to allow for growth. I guess when I released 'swell', things were at a peaceful point but I can only really recognise that in hindsight. I have a bit of a chaotic mind so things more often than not seem pretty full on and intense but thanks for pointing that out :) it’s so nice to observe the ebbs and flows! 

Sometimes opening up about what’s going on inside makes it easier to cope with - do you find that by opening up about anxiety and things like that on ‘swell’ that it serves almost as therapy not just for you but for your audience? This is the song you like to include audience members in correct? Is it just a big old group hugging session saying that we’re all going to be okay?

I'm so impressed! You seem to really get my tunes, thank you! Yeah, 'Swell' is supposed to be a dose of reassurance and a reminder that we are not alone in our feelings. I include the audience in it’s performance for just that purpose. When I released the track, I got a lot of messages from people expressing their connection to the track and how it helped them through hard times and that was and still is everything to me. I didn’t know if people were going to relate, and in some ways I almost hoped they wouldn’t because it’s not exactly a pleasant feeling but, knowing people out there were/are feeling these hard things yet can find a bit of respite in my music, I mean I don’t have words to accurately describe how happy/love-filled/grateful that makes me.

Ultimately, For Me feels just like a big love letter to yourself, but when I listen to it I can appreciate what you’re saying and apply it to myself. Why did you feel self-love was so important to make such a powerful theme in your EP in such a way?

AHH that makes me so happy!!! Self-love is one of if not the most important things I’ve learnt, and don’t get me wrong, I’m no master. As I said before, everything is fluid and so is my ability to self-love, some days I will get out of bed feeling like an embodiment of style, goodness and love and other days I won’t get out of bed at all. What does happen every day though, is that I allow myself the space to do what I need in order to feel whole and happy again, and I can’t begin to list the many, MANY ways that’s improved my life on every level. Knowing that I can rely on myself for patience, validation and love has done wonders for me, I want so badly for other people to explore that and feel the difference as well.

You’re now on the Listen Out tour after BIGSOUND - how important is to you on a personal level to be able to bring these really personal songs to such a big audience now?

It means everything to me. It’s weird because I find it super terrifying and hard to separate myself from my music since it’s all so personal but showcasing that music to so many folx at once almost makes it seem a little less scary. It's like I have so many people in the crowd investing in my set and my energy ~ almost like they’re there to share that personal story and share in that raw (and sometimes scary) vulnerability because they sometimes feel the same so it almost makes it more and less personal at the same time. I hope that made sense hahaha.

Looking forward now, you’ve noted that with this EP comes the closing of one chapter and the opening of a new one. Do you have any ideas what this new chapter will hold, or are you just open to whatever comes your way?

I can’t wait to share what’s coming with any and all who are willing to experience it with me. I am very much the master of my own destiny, manifesting all that I need to fulfil my life path but that being said, the universe will often step in and present some opportunities you can’t even imagine and I will always be open to that. All I can say is it’s going to be sublime and I seriously can’t wait to share it with you.

For Me is out now. Catch IMBI THE GIRL at the below dates:

Saturday, 29th September

Centennial Parklands, Sydney

Sunday, 30th September

Victoria Park, Brisbane

Interview by Emma Jones

Image by Joseph Crackett/Only Odd for Purple Sneakers' #SHOTBYSNEAKERS series.