Unleashing her debut 6-track EP ‘Wiz’ today, Alika, hailing from West London is a fiery and authentic female force you should get to know! Known for her raw, dexterous and slick wordsmith, Alika first stepped onto the scene with her collaborative hit ‘Wavey’ alongside CLiQ which has just under 35 million streams on Spotify alone. Influenced by the likes of Lauryn Hill, Missy Elliott and Ms Dynamite, Alika has proven her versatility over the last few years with a string of unquestionable tracks and features alongside Nadia Rose, Lady Leshurr and more recently with Ms Banks.
This 6-track EP speaks for itself, filled from start to finish with a variety of different sounds and moods, Alika has made a bold and striking entrance as a strong, empowered and influential female figure. We caught up with the rising star to talk all things ‘Wiz’, female empowerment and more…
For people who aren’t aware of who you are, could you tell us a bit more about your upbringing and how your career in music lifted?
I’m from West London, born and raised! I grew up in single parent house-hold with my mum; she used to play a lot of Garage music in the car on the way school and a lot of old school R&B; I grew up loving Missy Elliott, Gwen Stefani, Eve and artists like that! I started writing songs when I was about 11 or 10 when I was in Year 6 in Primary School – I have always been into arts and doing Performing Arts stuff! I set up my own studio in 2014 and I am a sound engineer as well!
Oh sick! I love that! There aren’t many female sound engineers around!
No, there’s not! I used to work for Nando’s when they opened their studio and I was a sound engineer there, now I just run my studio and do my music! I did MOBO UnSung in 2016 and that’s where my music career, I’d say lifted and started to take off. I met my manager, I met CLiQ and we made ‘Wavey’! That’s what led to me getting a publishing deal and having a platform!
‘Wavey’ is a huge song! I was looking at the streaming numbers and thought ‘”Oh my goodness!”
Thankyou! Yeah, it’s crazy! With it being my first actual release on streaming platforms – it was sick!
Were you overwhelmed with that at all?!
I was a bit! I did feel a bit of pressure! It did feel overwhelming at first, I was like “What the hell is going on?!” but after the initial shock of it, it was sick to be honest! I enjoyed it! I enjoy making music, I’ve come to that conclusion now, being a couple years into my career – As long as that’s my job, I have joy!
Describe your sound in 3 words…
Hmm! Let me think about it! I’d say raw, vibey and relatable!
I am so excited about this EP, it’s sick! First of all, I’d love to know a bit more about the name of the EP ‘Wiz’ and why you chose it?
So, it’s a bit of a funny story actually! In ‘Wavey’ the first line I came up with was; “So let me tell you like this / I’m who you’re looking for, I’m the wiz” and when I was thinking about my EP name, my journey has definitely been a yellow brick journey so far, and it will continue to be! I do feel like I’m a wizard, when I look at my life, my creativity and what I stand for, I do think I’m a wiz – always coming up with stuff! That’s where the name came from, it was a mix between ‘Wavey’ being very important to me and my journey, it representing the journey itself with the whole ‘Wizard of Oz’ and the yellow brick road idea, plus I feel like I’m a bit of a wiz!
One thing I noticed about this EP was the versatility and the freedom sonically from start to finish! On tracks like ‘Action’ you slow things down and keep it real, whereas on ‘Innit Tho’ it has an almost club-esc feel! How did you want to approach this EP sonically?
Because it’s my first project and I do feel like it’s been a long time coming, during my creative journey and for people who have been listening to me from very early on, I have been making lots of different types of music! For my first project, I wanted to capture all the different vibes that I have explored over the past few years of making music. Just me as a person, it goes back to being the wiz of it all, I don’t have a one-track mind – it’s just how my brain works! I love different types of music, any genre of music there is always one song I like! I didn’t want to ever be boxed into one sound, that was never my plan. So, with my EP I wanted to make a stand from the beginning that I am versatile and that’s who I am as an artist. I don’t subscribe to one genre and I don’t think I ever will!
I was going to say it is very hard to box you in! As much as people may want to refer to you as an MC or a rapper, your versatility, for me places you as more of an artist!
Thankyou very much! That’s the aim! *laughs*
One of my favourite tracks from the EP is ‘Karma’ – it opens the EP with a fresh and feel-good swagger that instantly has you moving! Ironically, the message in the song talks about running away from the fakes and karma doing it’s thing! What inspired this track? With your position in the game, do you feel like you have to deal with this more often now or?
I’d say a bit of both! I feel like my position in the game created a lot more loneliness in my life, there is less people to deal with! *laughs* But, on the flip side I do feel like that is because of that, people do drop out eventually or it gets harder to know who to trust. I do think the reason why it’s a bit more up-beat and positive is because for me, it was a positive experience – I don’t have many regrets in life! For me, it was like “I’m good, but you’re lost!” kinda thing! *laughs*
That’s the way to keep it going though isn’t it! *laughs*
Yeah! *laughs* That’s where the vibe comes from with the message and it being a contradiction to the vibe of the song. I think it’s because I like to celebrate and see the positives in things.
Yeah, I hear that! We don’t like to dwell on the negative things do we!
You released ‘Life’ alongside Big Zuu as the lead single, what made you feel like this was the right initial teaser for the EP? This track is very much about working hard for what you want and sends a very honest and empowering message to your supporters, that I think you both represent as people!
Exactly! I think that’s why I made that decision, out of all the songs; I love it, I think it’s a bop and we are both from West London which is important to me. I wanted my first foot forward as an artist to be so that people know what I’m about, and my verse on that song is very honest about the life I lead and the lifestyle I subscribe to! It’s quite contradictory to the rapper title that I get given, I wanted to come out the gate as honest as I could – this is who I am, take it or leave it!
You are both from West London, did you guys know each other before?
I actually didn’t know Zuu before, not from my area! I met Zuu when I was working at the Nando’s studio! It did come about naturally! Br3nya is from West London and I do find that there is a bond that you get with other artists when you find out that they are local!
I guess you have a lot more in common!
In common yeah! Exactly! It’s easier as well because I have my own studio here in West London so it’s a lot easier for them to roll through!
We have to talk about ‘Dolla $igns’ – This is such an empowering track for women, and I think it was needed! The energy is amazing! How important was it for you to include this type of message within the project?
It was so important for me! When it comes to female rappers, there is a certain kind of female rapper and a certain message that does get pushed to the forefront a lot of the time. I do often feel like I don’t fit the mould in that sense, so it was important for me to link up with powerful women like Trillary, who are representative of that message and do it so well, it gives me space to give my take on that message in my way! There are going to be women out there like myself who are still looking for someone to relate to in that way and I would like to be a voice for those people, along with the powerful women that are so confident and sexy! I’m not just as confident and out there as those, they inspire me so much, but I do feel like there is a need for a voice for those people who aren’t quite there yet!
You have quite a few female collaborations on the EP!
I love women! *laughs*
It’s nice to see as a female from an outside perspective because there is so much pressure on women in the music industry, and like you said before about there being stereotypes and things you have to conform to – it’s really refreshing!
Yeah! 100%! It was refreshing for me to make! It’s refreshing for me to have a project of mine to listen to with so much female energy and female perspectives on! It was important and intentional for me.
What is your favourite track from this project and why?
I would say my favourite track is ‘Karma’ as well! It’s a bit more personal for me as well so I think that’s probably why it’s my favourite!
Would you say that this EP challenged you in anyway?
I’ve never made a project, so putting it together, the logistics and if you look at the credits, each song is different production, so with all the moving parts it was challenging! Making the music was easy and very enjoyable but putting it together post-production was the most challenging part for me because I care about everything! When you care about the details it can become stressful, but it was a great experience.
You said that you run your own studio, which is really cool because it’s a very male dominant industry! What would you say to women that want to take their own route like you have and build something for themselves?
I would defiantly say that it is important that you do it! I think being in a male dominated industry, you do get feelings of inequality and unfairness; for me, the reason why I fell into engineering was because it was getting really uncomfortable and disappointing relying on male engineers so much! A lot of the time there were things that I wanted to sing or write about that I didn’t feel comfortable to and I wanted to be able to record myself! I would say for any artist, especially women, it’s a good skill to have anyway even if you don’t take it down a commercial route and engineer for other people. But, anything else, I would say it’s great as a creative to teach yourself the things you need to know or the things you need other people to do for you – it’s not to say you aren’t going to work with others, but it empowers you and helps you on your journey to know things for yourself!
What else can we expect to see from you this coming year? More visuals?
Erm! Well I didn’t plan to actually do visuals for this first project because I’m already working on another one! I’m working on another one but with corona and everything, I want to see what happens and keep pushing my first project as much as I can! I could do visuals, but I really want to focus on pushing my EP and whatever that needs. I am always writing, creating music and working with other people so I’m very tunnel vision in regard to me keeping moving!
That’s the life of a creative though right?! You just want to keep creating all the time!
Yeah! It’s an outlet for me, it’s like therapy!