Lil Kim, Lil Wayne, Lil B – the modest “lil” has become a byword for the ridiculously talented. Now joining the pack is the UK’s Lil Silva.
Hailing from Bedford, Lil Silva’s ascent is all the more impressive given the industry’s sway towards London talent. It took a canniness in the kid to recognise this back in the day in Macabre Unit, a grime crew he was affiliated to: “They weren’t networking enough or branching out of Bedford,” he says. So he jumped ship and set solo sail.
Successful though he’s getting – and weighed down though he might be by free Puma goodies – it’s nice that Lil Silva lacks the braggy swagger of the London urban scene. But the more he gets positive reactions to his music, the more his self-belief is blooming. “It’s all about confidence”, he says. “In Bedford, you didn’t have any networking opportunities and you didn’t know where to go.” Soon though, Rinse FM’s Marcus Nasty was playing out Lil’s ‘Funky Flex’; “it all just went mad from that point.” Then there was ‘Seasons’: “I could sit on that for months! It was crazy. I heard it on people’s phones. It was everywhere.”
Lil Silva’s latest EP, Patience, is released 2nd May, including the hard-hitting, reflective track ‘On Your Own’ featuring Sampha’s sweet vocals. Unbelievably, he’s doing all this whilst holding down a job in retail, so with that and this music alter-life, “sleep’s a myth”. i-D Online called in for a lil chat.
The new material seems like a bit of an evolution for you… Yeah, Night Skanker was on a harder tip. I still tried to keep the elements of the sound, and Sampha is brilliant.
How did you meet him? It was through Notting Hill Arts Club. He was performing live and I saw him do his show and thought, “This guy’s brilliant.” So I said, “Do you want to do some work?” And he was like, “Definitely.” He knew who I was, and I was like, “Bruv, let’s do some stuff, innit?” and we put a lot of work into this track. It was a great journey. I want to work with interesting people. I want to do something different and Sampha’s stuff is crazy. I love it. I definitely want to do more work with him. That’s just the beginning.
How do you play your music? I don’t do anything live. Well, I haven’t really thought about it. If i’m doing a 90-minute set and 60% is my production. And I see the crowd going, “What the hell is this?’ and see their reaction, so I know from that what to release next.
Are you playing any of the festivals this year? Yeah, I’ve got Glastonbury coming up and Croatia, Outlook Festival, Big Chill festival as well. That’s it so far.
Who else are you into musically at the moment? Seiji, a new guy called Tommy Kid from America, Jim-E Stack. This is what I’m playing now. That’s the sound I’m working with. Simple but effective tracks.
Have you got fans around the world? I have quite a big fanbase in Japan, which is crazy. I want to go there definitely. I’ll have to do a couple of remixes for people, see how we do. I just set up a little account firstname.lastname@example.org and said, “Just send me some music.” And I was like, “Wow”. I’m sitting here for a couple of hours going through emails, going, “Bloody hell.” There were 17-year-old kids from Japan sending me things and I was like, “What the hell is this?” I just want to hear new music and the amount of stuff I got was amazing, from places as diverse as New Orleans, Paris, LA and San Francisco.
And when did you first realise you had a gift for making music? Well I got Fruit Loops on the PC when I was 10 or 11 and my brother didn’t understand how I was making the stuff I was making. I found a USB stick of my old stuff and listening back to it now, I’m like, “I made this?”
Patience is out 2nd May. Listen to ‘On Your Own’ ft Sampha here.