Head here to follow Little Simz' introducing week on The 405.

Little Simz career is in rapid ascension. When we met on a typically drizzly February evening at Camden's Roundhouse, she was just back from the states where she'd been recording her new EP. Since then she's dropped two great new tracks ('Bars Simzson' and 'The Hamptons') as well as making another return trip to America for a hugely successful run of shows at SXSW. From speaking to her it's abundantly clear that Simz is not only extremely focused, but also quite humbled by the recognition she's been receiving.

On the evening we met, Little Simz was headlining the Roundhouse Rising festival, a two-day event that showcases the best in local, up and coming artists. With the event itself split over two stages, and a performance of Fuerzabruta also taking place, the only spot we could find to conduct the interview was in the bar.

2013 had been a crazy year for Little Simz. Not only had she released her latest mixtape, the excellent Blank Canvas, but Jay Z promoted it on his Life+Times website, which only helped to boost her reputation here and abroad. She's now in the process of readying her new EP for release, which she's been recording in Los Angeles.

"That was great. It was my first time there, so there was a lot to take in. New experiences, nice food, nice weather."

You were recording with Dizzee Rascal out there, but you also met J Cole - was that a coincidence or because you'd name-dropped him?

I mentioned him on 'Mandarin Oranges' [A single she recorded with Waldo] that was the reason. We met up on a few occasions and he mentioned that he was a fan of my music and excited to hear what I was doing next. But he's also been showing a lot of love, and for that I'm very grateful.

You've been getting a lot of support in the US, and this isn't your first trip out there is it?

I was in New York in October. I was flown out by a lady called Sylvia Rhone who works with L.A. Reid, and was there for a couple of days. I met and performed for them both and kinda just kept that contact. It was nice. I've never been flown out anywhere, and so that was very surreal for me, but at the same time humbling as well. That was a great experience, and I just want to do more travelling in general.

2013 was a massive year for you. What are your plans for this year?

First and foremost is to complete my EP - finish the music. That's my main focus right now, and I suppose, like I said, doing more travelling, more shows, more performances. Maybe shoot some more videos - grow. I'm turning 20 as well, so there's that! I reckon this year will be a really good year. I'm excited for it.

You're still quite young, how have you found that with entering the music industry?

It's a blessing really. I'm fortunate enough to have the support of my family, my close friends, my team, and everyone around me that keeps me humble and grounded. And just being a teenager and doing rebel stuff [laughs]. It's cool, to be able to make music and to hear young people my age relate to it - that's always a nice thing. I suppose I'm just trying to be a voice.

How do you try to be that voice?

Definitely by trying to talk sense and speak the truth as well as making relatable music. I don't talk about what I don't know, like I can't talk about having big houses and big cars because I don't have that. But I can talk about bumping the tube - not that I'm promoting it. It's about being honest. For me, that's the best way to be.

So everything comes from your personal experience?

Yeah, definitely. And it just so happens that people can relate to that.

There's a very British sound to your music. Do you worry that by working in LA and also the attention you're getting in the US your music might lose that?

Not at all, simply because I'm British. This is all I know, I only know how to talk with this accent and rapping is all about accent.

But with regards to sound?

I don't think so. The sounds that are current in the US are also current here. It kind of works hand in hand and it's just what I'm into if I'm honest. I'm in to that sound and I make that type of music"

You've been working on your new EP, which is the first time you're working with original beats. Has this resulted in a different sound?

The sound's definitely a lot darker. The last mixtape [Blank Canvas] had more of an upbeat tone - at least I think so anyway. But I think this new EP is darker and a lot more conceptual than before. 'Enter The Void' was the first song I recorded for the EP so that set the tone for all of the other songs. My manager suggested the concept and I was able to create a story including characters and a moral behind it.

There does seem to be a darker sound coming in to rap music at the moment.

I guess so. I just wanted to do something different. I've never made music like this before and it's my first release with all original music. So I suppose I'm just testing the waters and trying to find my feet with different sounds.

How did you find it working with original beats for the first time? Did you have to change the way you worked?

To an extent. When I used to work with beats that weren't mine I'd find them online, write to them, record them and then that was it. But this time I was working with actual producers and people that make music. We'd both get into the studio and knuckle down on some ideas - it's sort of like everything's being built from scratch. It feels more like a process, more like you're creating something as opposed to just taking something that's already there and adding something on top of it. It's definitely more rewarding.

You're also part of the collective Space Age [who were all in attendance that evening], how many people are in that group?

I'd say there is about 8 of us. But it's not just music, we all do different things. Like there's musicians, photographers, actors and models. It just happens that we're a group of friends and we have the same interests and live really close.

Do you work with them a lot and bounce ideas off them?

Yeah definitely. But it's more of a friendship as opposed to anything else. I mean they're also my foundations. Like we're here at the Roundhouse and they'll all be here. If someone's got a video shoot, we'll all go there - if someone else has got a screening we'll go to that.

It sounds like a strong support network.

Yeah, and I think that's an important thing to have in life.

And you have a clothing range [with Space Age] coming out soon, don't you?

Soon, yeah. It's a collaboration between us, Space Age, Illustrated People and Morgan, who's a really great designer. We've just started to put ideas together, but we're wearing the first pieces here tonight. It's going to be a collection called Space Capsule and we're just getting in the samples now and testing the waters.

Is there any more acting lined up for you?

Not as of yet. Acting for me is on hold, just because I feel like my music is on a roll and I want to keep that going. Also whenever I do acting gigs, it really stifles what I do musically, because I just don't have time to do anything else. In time though, yeah, I'll do some acting again.

So where do you want to go with your music?

I want to go all the way. I want to be an iconic figure, I want to help change the way people listen to music - the way people appreciate music. I'd like my music to help the world and also better myself and my family. There's just a lot within this whole thing that I want to try. And I know it's doable, I know it's possible - anything's possible.

Rap's a powerful art form and it's good to see these kind of ideas coming to the fore again.

I think so. I feel like people are now paying attention to what's real as opposed to what isn't and what's just for show. Real always recognise real, and that's what I'm a part of. Rap always changes and evolves over time but it's for the better. Now people are beginning to be more open, rappers especially, and you see a lot of rappers now who sing on their tracks. More people are trying to find new mediums to express their music.

Also there are more female voices being noticed, is that something you think about?

Definitely, though I don't really look at myself as just a female rapper. Even though that's what I'm always going to be called, and I'll always be compared to other female rappers, but that's just the way it goes. I just kind of feel like it's bigger than that, it's even bigger than me, to be fair. But, being a female is a plus at this time [laughs] it has its pros and cons.

In what way do you see your music as bigger than you?

It's like I was saying about my end goals - it's not just about winning a grammy. That's why I say it's bigger than me, I want to use my music to inspire people, it's not just about me. I can write something and it can change someone's life. I can help build something. I can help plant a seed in someone's head that they thought could never be achieved. It's not just about me, I'm just using my music as a tool to make that happen.


Head here to follow Little Simz' introducing week on The 405. Image courtesy of Danika Lawrence.