from i-D one to watch to drake’s mixtape, jorja smith is on fire

Ahead of her headline show at London’s Village Underground tonight, we catch up with the rising star.

by Francesca Dunn
Apr 4 2017, 2:02pm

When we first featured northern singer-songwriter Jorja Smith, it was to share the impactful video for her debut single, "Blue Lights." The soulful record questions the guilty conscience of young black males and the flawed society that caused such an inherent problem. With it, Smith won over the music industry (and legions of dedicated fans). Soon enough, she was living in London and featuring in our Class of 2016 alongside the new artists we believed in the most. Back then, Jorja told us, "if every month is as cool as this, I just want it to keep going!" But things didn't just keep going; they took off in a major way.

After releasing her first EP, Project 11, at the end of last year, she followed it up with the very beautiful "Beautiful Little Fools," a track and video that was inspired by The Great Gatsby. It came as somewhat of a surprise when she appeared not just once, but twice, on Drake's recent mixtape, More Life. The serial fan of London music called on Jorja to accompany Black Coffee on the housey "Get It Together" as well as her very own "Jorja Interlude" featuring bars from the man himself. Suitably impressed, we caught up with Jorja to discuss how things have changed in the past year (and that time she dreamt about having dinner with Rihanna).

How has your life changed since we put you in i-D's Class of 2016 at the start of last year?
It's been mad. A lot has happened and I'm still having fun.

And how have you changed?
I haven't really changed. I've become more certain of how I want to do things; but everyday I continue to learn something new.

"Beautiful Little Fools" was inspired by The Great Gatsby. Did you prefer the film or the book?
I love both.

You're about to play another headline show in London. Do you still get nervous?
I just get excited to get out onto the stage. Best feeling ever.

What can people expect from your tour?
More magic.

What's the most important thing you've learned from music?
Be honest and let go.

You've been in London over a year now, does it feel like home yet?
I've made it a home, especially being with my friends and getting to know the city. But home is always Walsall.

Is being known for your music as good as you imagined it would be?
I never really imagined it that much, I'm just so honored to be helping and inspiring people through it. When I read messages from people I just smile so much.

What do you listen to when you're feeling happy? And sad?
I don't have anything specific that I listen to but I will replay a song over and over again sometimes. I listen to sad songs when I'm happy sometimes, too.

What's the last dream you remember having?
Rihanna invited me and my friend to dinner and my friend pretended to be my bodyguard. That's it.

What's the plan?
More music.


Text Frankie Dunn
Photography Vevo/WMA, Jack Bridgland

Jorja Smith
music interviews