Black History Month Mixtape: Junior Simba

For our second instalment in our Black History Month Mixtape’ series, we were lucky enough to catch up with the up-and-coming music producer and DJ, Junior Simba.

From Zimbabwe to Leeds, Junior Simba is already coming in hot, having just announced his Warehouse Project debut where he’ll be playing alongside legends such as The Chemical Brothers and The Blessed Madonna. Known for his vibrant, groove heavy rhythm, Junior Simba has situated himself at the forefront of the new wave of house and dance fusionists that are currently dominating the UK club scene.

Coming from a rich musical background and influenced by the sounds of Rhumba, Kwaito and Afro-house, Junior Simba brings a truly unique and sophisticated energy to the UK electronic scene.

Thanks so much for taking the time to chat to us today about your selected songs for our Black History Month Playlist! We’re super excited to learn a little bit more about you through the kinda tunes you like to vibe to in your spare time.

Firstly, could you tell us a bit about your background and what makes you proud of your heritage?

I was born in Zimbabwe and spent some of my early childhood living in Victoria Falls which is a Ndebele town. Later on, we moved to Harare which is mainly Shona. Part of our culture is that every family has a totem that they carry on and mine is a Lion. It’s part of how you would be greeted at traditional ceremonies and is also sometimes how you are addressed even in normal conversation. It’s very cool when you think about it and coincidentally my totem links to my middle name – Simba (thanks to The Lion King!) – although traditionally, Simba is short for Simbarashe which means ‘the power of God’. A lot of our generation have spent time assimilating to other cultures for obvious reasons, which means that unfortunately we lose some parts of our heritage as a result. My mother, on the other hand, makes it her mission to ensure this does not happen. Her hangover meal of choice is not a large Maccies order, rather a fresh pot of sadza – it’s small things like that that make me smile when I think about my culture and heritage. In a music sense, genres like Kwaito, Rhumba, Sungura, Zim gospel and instruments like mbira, ngoma, hosho all make me super proud of my Zimbabwean heritage. I have a small ngoma at home I keep to remind me of it. I should sample it in my tracks really! 

Do you think that music and Black History month have an important connection with each other?

I think that Black history has entirely a very important connection with music. You can’t have a conversation about music without Black culture and people at its core. As an artist, I am also learning more and more about the influence Black people have had on the music that we listen to today, the instruments and where they came from. Just the other day, I was reading about how African-American rhythm and blues inspired rock – things like that I find very interesting. The connection is so deep and strong and we should all work towards making sure that the history of all music is understood fully and appreciated for what it is and where it comes from.

Fab, thanks for such a wonderful insight into you and your culture – let’s move onto your first track that you have picked for our playlist, Goodbye ft. DJ What What by DJ Cleo. Could you tell us a bit more about it, why you chose it, what it means to you or if you think it’s just a bit of a banger? 

This song is my entire childhood, it’s in the hearts of millions of Zimbaweans and South Africans. It soundtracked many personal life events: birthdays, Christmas parties and all other parties. It was even part of that early morning commute to school – every bus had this playing at all times of the day. DJ Cleo is a House legend and an amazing producer so I had to start off my selections with this track. 

Moving onto your second track – Over You ft. Kathy Brown by Warren Clarke & ATFC – why did you pick this one?

I’m not sure about where to start when I try to describe the way Kathy Brown’s voice grabbed me the first time I heard this song. I try to play this track in sets everytime I can. It’s so captivating and singing to it is my favourite thing… you can feeeeeel her message – POWERFUL!

Tell us about your third chosen track – i by Kenrick Lamar.

Kendrick Lamar’s work is just so complex. It sometimes takes time to digest completely, and understand or enjoy fully. This is something I want to emulate with my work as well. The song “i” is so positive and it’s THE self love anthem. You put it on when you are going on a stroll or drive or starting your day and you are like yeah “I LOVE MYSELF”. I listen to this a lot. It’s like a mantra. If I was stuck on a desert island this could probably be one of the songs that should play from the sky. 

How about your fourth – Morphing into Brighter?

ANZ ANZ ANZ ! I think Anz is super cool and at the front of the incoming fresh wave of artists who make fire and carry a strong identity. The tracks she makes are diverse, from garagey bits to breaksy dancefloor destroyers. This track starts, then lifts you off when it initially kicks in, and then dives into deeper realms as it nears the end. The journey it takes you on is described in the name to be fair. It’s a track that makes you pull that face, nod and smile, gun fingers, everything. Love it.

And finally, what is the fifth track that you have selected for our playlist?

Kingdom is on there, not because it’s my track, but because of Vanessa Chisakula and the work that she does as a poet and activist. I want as many people to explore it and share it because it’s very important and inspiring. I am so proud of having her on the track. Also… it’s a great tune 🙂

Thanks so much for sharing your tunes with us and allowing us to discover some sick new tracks! Before you go, do you have any final words that you would like to give to any young Black creatives that are looking to get into the industry? 

Create create create and get the locker loaded and your craft sorted! When you are creating, do it for you first and then the rest will follow. Have your culture and you at the centre of your creations. Current trends are best ignored, create your own lane. It always feels like the industry has the gates locked but, there are avenues that are there for us, for producers. For example, the BBC Introducing uploader is what I used monthly and how I got my first BBC Radio 1 play. For DJs – go to parties and talk to people, make friends and get involved. Everyone gets told this but it’s true, you never know who you will end up talking to .

Brixton Jamm’s Black History Month Mixtape will be updated regularly throughout October – head to our Spotify to give it a listen!

Junior Simba will also be making his Brixton Jamm debut this Saturday, supporting Ben Pearce at Freedom: Feel Good House & Disco – catch him there!

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