On 17 August 2018, Imani Williams made her return to music – after a couple of years away – with an awesome new track, titled “Dumb“. The song samples The 411’s 2003 single of the same name and features Tiggs Da Author and Belly Squad. It’s a brand new sound for her in contrast to the Sigala hit she featured on, titled “Say You Do”, as well as her debut “Don’t Need No Money“, and her recent feature on Mike Perry’s “Body To Body“.
Her time away has definitely allowed her to find out who she is as an artist, and the direction she has gone in with “Dumb” really excites us for even more music from this awesome and talented singer-songwriter. We’ve been following her career from the start, and even went to see her perform live at The Nightingale Club in Birmingham. She’s professional, determined, and beyond talents, to the extent where Imani Williams will be the name, everyone talks about on her way to becoming a superstar.
We had the honour of being able to ask her some questions in an exclusive interview. We chatted about her brand new single “Dumb“, her reasons for sampling The 411 song, working with Tiggs Da Author and Belly Squad, her previous hits, and what it was like working with Sigala on the single “Say You Do”.
Hi Imani, how are you today? What have you been up to lately?
I’m good! I’ve just been living my best life.
You recently dropped your new single “Dumb”, can you tell us more about it?
So ‘Dumb’ is about dumb boys. It’s about all the excuses they give you to try to get out of the situation and you should just block them.
What does this song mean to you?
It basically came from a studio session when I was just talking to a co-writer [Chiara Hunter] and we were just having a girl chat, complaining about dumb guys and that’s where the song really came from. I think a lot of girls can relate to it so it’s a good one for girls to listen to definitely.
Why did you choose to sample The 411’s “Dumb” from the 00’s? You changed the meaning behind the song, what made you come up with that idea?
I’ve always loved 2000s music. It really influences my sound and I loved the hook it’s really catchy and it was really relevant to what I was writing about. So we just flipped the concept and ended up using it!
The track features Tiggs da Author and Belly Squad, what were they like to work with?
They were amazing to work with! I basically wrote my part of the song and wanted a guy’s perspective on it, so I thought, obviously Tiggs, because we’re signed to the same management and I know how amazing he is. So, I hollered him and then he put his verse down, and I loved what he said in it! He basically said the typical excuses, like ‘she was just a friend’, ‘don’t listen to them’, and I found that really relevant to what I was talking about. And then I loved what Belly Squad was doing so I hit them up and they came to the studio one night and they killed their verses.
We adore the music video. How did filming go? Were there any memorable moments?
Filming the music video was so much fun. The guys came down, there was lots of dancing. The song is really easy to dance to and dancing is something I love to do. Just the energy on set to be honest! Everyone was cheering us on when we were doing the dance routine, so that was so much fun. The directors were amazing – really good people to work with!
Who directed the music video and did everything go according to plan?
Yeah definitely! Luke Biggins and Rebekah Bird. It was amazing to work with a girl that young as well, she’s only 24 and she’s done so much! She’s really amazing so it’s definitely really inspiring to work with those sort of people.
How does this song differ from your previous releases?
It’s so different! Obviously, when I was 16 I had a lot of dance features out. A lot with Sigala which was absolutely amazing, but I feel like this music feels like something that is more me. It’s the music I love to do.
You took quite the break – it’s been over two years since your debut solo single “Don’t Need No Money”. What did you do during the time?
Write a thousand songs! Really, just trying to hone in on my craft and figure out what my sound is. I did a lot of features but doing my own stuff, I really took the time to just figure out what kind of music I wanted to do and worked with a lot of cool people and this song kind of introduces who I am.
How did that time help shape the artist you are now?
It definitely gave me time to experience things as a teenager and go through experiences that I can write from. Especially this song, it’s called ‘Dumb’ and I feel like every girl can relate to something or every girl has been through a situation like this at some point in their life. So it feels good to know people can relate to the songs I’m writing.
Looking at your previous hits, such as “Say You Do”, “Don’t Need No Money”, and “Body To Body” (it was a moderate hit in Sweden, so it counts). What were those experiences like?
Definitely amazing, I was so young when ‘Say You Do’ came out! I was 15 turning 16, still doing my GCSE’s so to be going from an English GCSE straight to a crowd of 30,000 people was incredible and insane at the same time. I think I was really young and now I can really enjoy the experience when I’m not in school and I don’t have all these pressures surrounding me. They were definitely amazing, especially working with Sigala – he’s had so many hits. Touring with him and seeing what it’s like to do these massive arenas like Summer Time Ball (80,000 people) and Jingle Bell Ball, so it’s been amazing. I feel like I’ve got a lot of experience to run with.
You went touring all over, due to your hits, we even saw you at The Nightingale Club in Birmingham – you totally brought the fire that night! – have there been any memorable or funny stories during your time performing in different cities?
A few to be honest! One that sticks out is probably The Nightingale Club and the music went off and I lost my voice, so it was just a bit mad! The feedback was really loud too. V Fest when my mic wouldn’t turn on. It was 3 seconds before I was meant to go on stage and I was 16 and started crying (laughs)! So I just went out there and did the dance routine just to give the crowd a show. So there’s definitely been some moments but I feel like that’s just festival season! Festivals are a bit crazy.
[Check out our gig review of Imani Williams at The Nightingale Club, Birmingham]
Your very first single was on Sigala’s “Say You Do”. How did the collaboration come about?
Sigala and I have the same management but before Sigala was Sigala, he was doing amazing productions for so many artists. He wasn’t really doing his own thing. So he’s worked with me since I was 14 and we did a lot of songs. We experimented a lot, probably some songs I’d be embarrassed about now, one day we just wrote ‘Say You Do’ in a session, that I came straight from BRIT school and then somehow that song really blew up. Sigala is Sigala and he’s had all these amazing hits before that and after.
Can we expect another song with Sigala any time soon?
Fun fact, he actually did some additional production on ‘Dumb’ so we’re always kind of connected somehow. I feel like we’ll definitely work together again at some point.
What is next for Imani Williams? We sure hope more music is on its way.
I’m 100% going to release more music I just want to be consistent now, especially because I’ve been away for so long. I’ve got all these songs and music I want to share with everybody.
Back to “Dumb”, the reaction has been great so far, with many people stating it is bringing nostalgia due to the sample; was that your intention?
Definitely. I feel like any time you use a sample, people are going to like it because it’s familiar so that’s always a good thing. I love 2000s music, it’s always good to mix the modern with the old school.
You also teamed up with mysnapp for the music video and launched your own range of limited edition sunglasses – which all feature in the music video. How did that come about?
So I heard about mysnapp and I thought it was a really cool idea, especially because you always see clothes in a music video and you want to know where it’s from! So I got together with them and I designed these really cool sunglasses and we wore them in the video and they’re available to buy!
We love the idea of the site and that fans can wear the same outfits that can be seen in the music video. Looking back, are there any music videos from the past that featured key outfits you would love to have worn?
I always think about Mariah Carey ‘Heartbroken’ music video! From everything in it, the acting to the style, to just the attitude – I just feel like it’s so sassy.
We would love to see you release an album in the near future, is that on the cards?
Definitely eventually. But at the moment it’s just singles and getting people to really know who I am and this is like the introduction to the kind of music I will be releasing.
What do you want to achieve with your music? Are there any artists and DJs you would love to collaborate with?
I think what I want to achieve with my music is just releasing music that girls and guys can relate to and people can listen and feel good about themselves. I’d love to collaborate with Jax Jones, that would be a really cool one! He’s released so many hits with all these amazing people! Who else… this is a bit random but Zara Larsson! I think that would be a cool girl power song!
And, finally, do you have a message for your fans?
One relating to ‘Dumb’? I’d say, block the guy that’s being dumb to you, move on, do better and have fun! Don’t take life too seriously.
Thank you, Imani Williams, for taking the time out to answer our questions, it was a true honour to interview you, and we totally look forward to new music which we cannot wait to hear live.
“Dumb“, by Imani Williams featuring Tiggs Da Author & Belly Squad, is available to download and stream right now via Sony Music Entertainment.