November 30, 2022
My music is a mixture because it represents me
The voice of Lina Simons, interviewed by Sara Manisera, FADA Collective
Blackn[è]ss fest is the first festival in Italy which presents a re-elaborated version of the African lineage universe. Events and roundtables are organized both to think about the concept of being black, following a path of decolonization of the language, and to discuss topics such as mental health issues linked to racial profiling, discrimination, racism, and also music, cinema, media and representation of black people .
Voice Over Foundation chose to accompany the festival in this path and it decided to tell stories about it through the protagonists' voices during the whole year.
Interview with Lina Simons, rapper and artist.
Q: Hi Lina! Can you introduce yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
A: My name is Pasqualina De Simone, aka Lina Simons, I am 24 years old and an artist. I've been making music since I was 12, first in cover bands and concerts in the 'little town' where I grew up. At the age of 18, when I moved to London, I started writing and making it my profession.
Q: When did you meet music? Is there someone or something that inspired you?
A: Music has always been an important part of my life. I remember there was a karaoke stereo with some CDs in the house and I used to enjoy singing along. When I was 12 I did a music competition in the village, I went on stage and... nothing, I sang! I started to get a taste for it and continued from there, the first opportunities came and here we are!
Q: Your latest project combines different sounds - from rapped grime in Campania to Afrobeat and dance influences. Why?
A: I can say that my music is a mixture, because it represents me. I am of Nigerian descent, growing up in a town in Campania. I grew up in a multi-ethnic environment and I am happy to bring this element into my music because it distinguishes it and makes it unique. From a creative and artistic point of view, I write the lyrics and dialogue with the team I work with. There is a continuous and constant exchange of ideas. My producer - Marco Gransta, ed - translates me, decodes me, I don't know how but he manages to capture a whole series of thoughts and turn them into beats, sounds and music. And in the end it comes out a nice mixture!
Q: Lina of 10 years ago. And Lina of today.
A: I have changed a lot in these ten years thanks to the experiences I have had. I am more mature, I chose to go abroad, to London, because I knew that there would be many more possibilities for me there, unlike in Italy. I was tired of some things that I no longer had to face in England.
Q: We met at Blacknèss Fest. In your speech you said many things, among them 'Only I know what I experienced as a black Italian woman. (...) But let us have the freedom to just be artists'.
A: The Afro-Italian community or let's say the so-called second generations are starting to emerge now in Italy, especially in the artistic field. Often, a certain discourse is expected from the artist who belongs to a minority. If you talk about anything else, you come across as hypocritical. As a person, I suffer from certain situations every day and many times I use my music to express them, other times, I don't want to think about them. My problems are not the only thing that define me as a person, I have so many other things to tell in my music that are not just traumas. I also want to say that if you make music and you have a platform to disseminate it, it's good that you can use it to deal with certain topics but the most important thing is to allow artistic freedom without having pressure on certain topics.
Q: Collaborations and music productions. Can you tell us how and with whom you collaborate?
A: In 2020, I signed a contract with the MINE Music Label. I am happy to work with them because they try to understand Lina as a person and because they are true professionals. They are people you can only learn from. I also collaborate with other artists and producers. For example In the block was made by Strange Beat who is a producer from Puglia. In general, ever since I was independent, I have always collaborated with producers, video producers, friends and people who have brought value to my music and helped me to be the Lina I am today.
Q: When and how do you write? How does the writing process happen?
A: I am very inconsistent, I am not a machine, I am a person and I am an artist. There are days where I can turn my emotions into words, others where I just want to be idle. I really enjoy going to the studio, being alone and writing. I write best in the studio because there is a special atmosphere there. It's as if I go into a trance and the words come out naturally. Of course it doesn't happen for every piece, every day. As I said, I always prefer quality over quantity.
Q: Dreams and projects in the drawer?
A: I have many projects in the pipeline. The pieces I have made over the years have always been a mixture and soon this will make even more sense [laughs!]. And on dreams, I would like to collaborate with Nathy Peluso [laughs again].