Q&A | Lila Iké
She might not be a household name in America, yet, but Lila Iké has already taken Jamaica’s music scene by storm. Hailing from Manchester, Jamaica, she sharpened her teeth by performing at Jamnesia’s open mic on Saturday nights. The seaside venue (located in Bully Bay, about 20 minutes outside Kingston), has hosted many prominent Jamaican artists including Chronixx, Jah9, NoMaddz, and Protoje. The latter performer, Protoje, happens to be a Grammy nominated artist and his ears perked when he first heard Lila Iké’s music. He signed her as part of his collective, In.Digg.Nation.
Lila’s friendship with Protoje turned out to be the turn her music career needed. The signing thrusted her into the spotlight, where she’s performed alongside him at Jamaica’s Reggae Sumfest (basically it’s the Coachella for the country) with 30,000 heads in attendance then making her NYC debut at BRIC’s Celebrate Brooklyn! Concert.
In 2017, Lila dropped her first official track, titled “Biggest Fan.” She wrote the song for her mother, whom she dubbed her “biggest fan.” The song’s release opened the floodgates for her solo career, with several other songs following suit. Earlier this summer, she performed on Protoje’s song “Not Another Word,” which acted as the biggest track she’s been apart of. After premiering on Rolling Stone, “Not Another Word” has graced Spotify playlists “Dancehall Queen,” and “Dancehall Official.”
While Lila Iké might hold the Reggae universe in the palm of her had, she’s not interested in classifying herself as a Reggae artist. She believes her music is more universal than to label inside a single genre. Flaunt spoke with the rising artist about her humble beginnings, treasured inspirations, and the meaning behind the words Lila Iké.
I always like to know what influences an artist when they are writing and recording their songs. Who would you say are your musical influences?
My favorite singer of all time is Garnett Silk. I love Toni Braxton, I really love Lauren Hill. All great artists in different genres and different types of music. But my all-time favorite is Garnett Silk.
Why would they inspire you?
Garnett Silk is my all-time favorite because of what he did for the music I don’t think anybody else did it. I feel like his voice, his style, he had a spiritual thing with his voice. Also, the fact that he didn’t get much time to do what I really think he wanted to do. Very powerful and very spiritual. How he was cut down so early almost makes me take up the responsibility, just make sure my music is on that level.
What’s your intention when performing your music? What are you trying to give your listeners with your talents?
When I’m performing, I’m basically giving everything. With certain performers, You can identify with what they are saying. , You can see certain movements in their body, you can feel in your presence that music isn’t something they are doing to make some money. So when I’m performing I’m doing what I’m supposed to do, which is give it all
Every artist has a different creative process when writing and recording music. What does your look like?
I search for inspiration, I don’t necessarily like writing with a pen and paper. When going through my everyday life, if a thought comes to me, i’ll whip out my phone and record it. Somethings I don’t record all my inspirations, but it comes upon you and for some people, it comes through like mediation or dancing or going different places. For me it’s all of the above. I like having conversations about different things. like learning as much as I can. I like listening to music, going to jam sessions.
You’ve released four singles so far. What’s next? Is there an album or an EP on the way?
Naturally, but I can’t say when. I am definitely working on new music.
We will keep our ears open! There’s a lot of musical genres, what inspired you to chose reggae? Is there a connection to the genre which drew you to it?
Personally, I don’t really associate myself with any particular genre, I feel like its a conscious thing. Like a work of poetry. I grew up in Jamaica, where there is lots of reggae. But I love reggae, it’s my favorite genre.
I love spoken music, jazz, country music, reggaeton. But for me, reggae music is a part of me.
Are you still based in Jamaica?
Rolling Stone premiered “Not Another World,” which features you working with Protoje and Agent Sasco. Are there any more collaborations coming up which you can tell us about?
I recently did a song produced by Izzy which was released on the same day, so I haven’t been pushing it that much. That’s the most recent collaboration I’ve worked on but I’m interested in working with a lot of artists. I’d love to do a song with Chronixx and Koffee. These are things I have in my head that hopefully work out.
You recently performed at LA’s Delicious Pizza for their block party. Are there any more US shows coming up on your itinerary?
Not right this minute, the next time I’m in America for a show is in Washington. My friend wants to come perform at his venue. Me, Sevana, a new artist called Jaz Elise, and another artist named Apollo. We are apart of their acoustic presentation. That’s the only thing I’m certain about. October 14th.
Where did the name Lila Iké come from? What does it mean to you?
Lila, biblically was coined from my original name Alecia Grey. When I was born people would always shorten my name. They’d call me Leekee or Leelee. Once somebody called me Lila and I was very drawn to that name because I felt like a “Lila”. I made a Facebook account and used it as my Facebook name, it was “Lila Music.” And people started calling me Lila. Before I know it, everybody actually thinks my name is Lila.
Iké, I got that name from a friend of mine I met when I moved to Kingston. This guy had a Nigerian background. He grew up in Africa and said Iké is short for Ikechukwu, he told me that it meant “God is powerful”
I grew up in a Christian home, my mom always went to church and believing in a higher being was always a crucial part of our everyday life. And I personally believe that there is something more beautiful and powerful than all of us here on Earth. I wanted to appropriate this energy, which is the purest form of my music. That’s where Lila Iké came from.
It was great talking to you, is there anything you would like to add?
I want people to know that it’s okay for them to be themselves, and they should go for whatever they want if they feel it in their hearts. If it brings them joy.