Talented Simbaarley (Nathaniel Seún Leigertwood) represents both Saint Vincent and Antigua in the soca scene. How does he define himself as an artist and what’s his personal take on his journey so far?
Firstly, what made you choose Simbaarley as your artist name?
The name is a cross-blend of my hair and my family. ‘Simba’ represents a lion and the ‘aarley’ was in representation of my grandad. I grew up knowing my grandad was a Rastafarian, so I naturally associated the musical and artistic surname Marley with being Rasta. So Simbaarley stems from that!
When did you first start making music?
I first started song writing and creating music in May 2019. I have a friend called Paige Lihya, who is very talented soulful R&B artist who helped me record my first demo. Her ear for melodies and her songwriting are just extraordinary. So yeah… we just ran with some ideas. It wasn’t until summer of that same year when I was watching different interviews on OJO and then came across an Instagram live video of an interview from a UK soca artist called Batch that we ended up having a conversation and brought me through to his studio on that very same day. Which is where I met DJ Simply E and the Trinibrit Productions team. That same night simply he sent me a riddim. I wrote the song within four hours and recorded it the following day. That was my first release ever, called I Doh Care, which was released in August 2019.
What inspires you to keep creating?
My inspiration varies. It can come from the simplest of things ‑ my family, or a beat that I hear, or just everyday life, just experiences of things that naturally happen become inspiration whether it be positive or negative.
How many tracks do you have out currently?
Five tracks: Simbaarley I Doh Care; Simbaarley + Chenelle Andrew Intellectual Wine; Simbaarley ft Batch My lsland; Simbaarley Bamsee; Simbaarley BPB (Big People Bacchanal).
Tell us about your last release, Big People Bacchanal (BPB). What did you hope to achieve with this track?
Well, the song was co-written by myself and my good friend/brother/mentor figure Joseph Figueroa, otherwise known as Prince Pronto. The combination of lyrics used was to just make people feel something different, especially during the pandemic.
We all know that when the world opens back up again, there will be a BPB (Big People Bacchanal), so that’s the life of the song!
What part of the creative process do you enjoy the most and why?
For me it’s writing on a beat late night in the dark, and just finding melodies and different words and just putting them all together!
And if I get stuck there are people I can go to, but I’ll mention them a little later on…
Does your mixed Caribbean heritage influence your music style?
Most definitely. I would say my mixed heritage helps me connect with my style of music.
What makes you unique as a soca artist in the UK?
Well, the artists and genres I listen to have helped mould me into the artist I am. I believe my USP is that my influence stems from so many different genres ‑ R&B/alternative R&B, rap, grime, funky house, garage, hip hop, as well as the genres that show reflection within soca, such as Afro beats, Afro swing, bashment, reggae, dancehall…
What has been the highlight of your journey so far?
Hands down, being a part of Kerwin Du Bois’ ‘Vision’, which is titled SPUT (Sing, Produce, Unleash Talent). I auditioned on Instagram like many people and I’m really grateful that I’m a part of a process which allows me to work underneath and learn from someone who I grew up listening to. There so many up-and-coming artists, producers and songwriters that I’m grateful to as well.
How has Covid-19 affected your career in music?
It has allowed me to network with so many people that I probably wouldn’t otherwise be connected to right now. I’ve definitely used Covid as a reflection period.
What has been your greatest achievement to date?
Performing alongside my fellow UK-based soca artists, Sundivas, Terrah Dan, Batch and Triniboi Joocie at KISS FM’s carnival show in honour of the carnival season! Big up to the Dixon Brothers and Mista Redz every time!
What advice would you offer to aspiring soca artists in the UK?
I am a big believer in the law of attraction; surrounding yourself with positive energy is a big deal, because that’s how you attract positive things.
Never be afraid to ask questions or ask for help.
Believe in your craft and always be willing to learn. As humans we never stop learning. Doesn’t matter our age.
And believe in YOURSELF.
What’s next for Simbaarley?
Getting back out into the world. Finally doing shows, and lots more releases coming, some releases diving into the modern island pop sound and much more!