Can you talk to us more about your single “Zim Zimmer”?
Zim Zimmer is a Tanzanian Collaboration between myself, UK producers M.A.X and Rudimentals Amir Amor, Tanzanian Producer Faza, and local musicians of Arusha Mto Wa Mbu. The song is based on the sounds of my childhood and reconnecting with my masai heritage.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
M.A.X and Amir joined me on my expedition where I returned to my homeland after 22 years. Inspiration was all over the place, everything I seen, everyone I met and everything we did. It was a mash up of emotions, which I feel we reflected in the track.
How was the filming process and experience behind the video?
Well, the video was shot over two days with the amazing director Matt Mead. Matt also came from the UK and joined me in the very town where the track was created. I felt it was relevant to shoot the video where the magic was created. We definitely had many challenges as we working with people who had never experienced being in front of the camera, but it was fun, and everyone really came together. The energy throughout was electrical, even though we had a few bumps, and falls, which I later decided to show in the video. Very funny although slightly worrying at the time!
The single comes off your new EP Culture Kid – what’s the story behind the title?
Until 2017 where I returned to Tanzania, I wasn’t aware of that there was a term for how I had been feeling for so many years, looking back on my previous releases you can see I was always searching for more parts of myself. This was a pivotal moment in my life, going back to the country where I all of my relatives lived, where I took my first steps and said my first words was something I really needed. I didn’t realise I was about to start refilling this huge gaping hole that was so many years of my life. And so many other all of the world have their own and similar experiences of this, those guys are called 3rd Culture Kids. And it was my turn to the join the network to raised awareness of the 3rd Culture Children and the importance of reconnecting with one roots.
How was the recording and writing process?
We made a makeshift studio which really did the job, but not gonna lie, it had its moments! Random electricity cut outs, dramatic sounds of animals passing by etc, but it all made the experience even more wonderful. Very humbling to be out of the normal perfectly working studios and having to cope with whatever came your way. Once the track was at pre mixing level, I brought it back to London and the lovely Troy had the wonderful job of mixing and mastering the track that had trucks, cows and goats singing in the background of super organic instrumentation, we had a blast!
What role does Tanzania play in your music?
Tanzania is my homeland, it plays the role of my homeland ! Hahaha
How your upbringing does influence your writing?
My upbringing is a very complex story, so the fact the my music has its own sound is not shock or horror …. my art is true to me, it’s honest and bold and that’s all I know to do.
What aspect of today’s culture did you get to explore on this record?
Well the beautiful thing about today’s world is that we are more open to bridging worlds, collaborating cultures and expressing individuality! I think the track speaks for itself when I say sit does all of these things. And I’m glad to say it all happens in the most natural format and in the most natural environment.
Any plans to hit the road?
Yes, I wanna travel to all parts of the world sharing my experience with others. I also wanna really concentrate on travelling through other parts of Africa as my ancestors aren’t only from Tanzania….
What else is happening next in Lulu James’ world?
I’m travelling a lot, I’m loving life between travelling and music right now, it’s a healthy balance. Everywhere I go I meet the most wonderful musicians, there’s a huge network of travelling musicians so that means there’s plenty for room for more collaborations. I’m also building a studio in Tanzania as well as working on a new EP for early next year!