Reeling from her debut live show the night before, which she performed to an eager audience at a sold-out Colours in Hoxton, London, future-pop musician INJI is diving head-first into her budding music career.
“It was very hard to put music out for a while because I was still going to school,” the 22-year-old admits. “It was so complicated to finish a song and put it out, but now that I’ve graduated I can do it so much faster than before. I’m so excited to give people more music.”
Her latest release, the humorous ‘Untz Untz’ is a tongue-in-cheek take on a throbbing dance beat and the singer’s inner monologue as she dances the night into oblivion. “There’s one song in particular, a song called ‘Drop Top’ that my followers have been begging for me to release, so finally I can give it to them,” she says with equal parts excitement and a sense of relief.
It’s no wonder the budding star is reassured to release her debut record with renowned music label Polydor, as she’s been independently navigating her rise since the release of her breakout song ‘Gaslight’ in 2022. “I had this moment on TikTok and my biggest fear was that everything else was going to flop afterwards. I was so lucky to have a viral moment, but what if no one listens to anything else?” Luckily this wasn’t the case, with her follow-up singles ‘Madeline’ and ‘The One’ receiving similar praise from new listeners and OG fans alike. “It’s been incredible to see people react to the new music with the same energy,” she beams.
True to her DIY roots, INJI describes the process of capturing the EP’s artwork with refreshing honesty. “I’m going to be real with you,” she begins, “There was no stylist involved – there was maybe 30 minutes of me scrambling in Urban Outfitters, like, what am I wearing? I had no idea, but I wasn’t about to start pretending to be cool or someone I’m not, I just wanted to keep it playful and fun.”
She describes the Hannah Montana-like experience when her music first garnered attention while she was still attending classes at the University of Pennsylvania. “I was studying Economics and was going into an office every day, and I loved that my entire closet was suits and pants and cashmere sweaters. Now, I’ve split my closet in two – there’s the colourful rainbow side, and the old suits packed away in the back.”
Below, INJI shares how old-school jazz, obscene lyrics and her college friends inspired her debut EP ‘LFG’.
For her debut EP release, INJI chose LFG – an acronym for the British catchphrase, ‘Let’s fucking go’ – to symbolise the excitement she feels during this period of her life. “My life has absolutely changed because of this EP, because of the people who listened to it and who decided to support it,” she explains enthusiastically. “I was going to go and do something completely different with my life, and now I get to play shows to people who I want to be friends with. LFG is me right now, like an affirmation that I can do this, I can put out music and be a musician.”
“The EP overall is supposed to make you feel happier, more energised and more empowered than before you listened to it. I want the feeling that listeners take away from it to be ‘let’s fucking go’, let’s go party, let’s go feel great about myself. That’s the emotion I’m trying to convey,” she says. “All of the songs are happy. I didn’t have many sad things to write about, and I wanted to write about this time in my life because it all feels so special.”
Across the six tracks, INJI’s songs shift from pop to house to disco seamlessly, united by their shimmering lightness and expression of unbounded joy. “I think that one thing to note about the EP is that all of the songs are a different genre,” she explains. “It’s definitely more united by the lyrical world than in the instrumentation.”
She explains that for one track, the hotly-anticipated ‘Drop Top’, it took some effort to convince her team to understand the song’s place on the EP. “It’s reggaeton which is not a very UK sound so they wanted to sit on it for a while and suggested I look into garage music, but looking at my comments online, I knew this song would work. Thankfully, they could see the hype the song was getting too, and it worked.”
Amy Winehouse & old-school jazz
“I spent a lot of my youth studying classical music, I loved singing jazz and I loved choral music and being in choirs,” she explains, citing her time living in England and at the conservatoire in Turkey as formative musical experiences. “When I lived in the UK I did church choirs, so I was really into like complex musical worlds.”
Much has changed in the artist’s interests and taste levels since her childhood, as has her perspective on her output. “When I decided to make music for the world, I was like absolutely none of that. No musical complexity, we’re going for fun, understandable, mainstream… just bangers,” she shares. “It doesn’t need to be complicated, we’re just trying to have fun here. They’re not really complicated songs if you think about them musically, although my producers might say otherwise!”
Despite the artist’s infectious, futuristic sound, she cites old-school musical greats as inspirations behind her songwriting. “I take a lot of inspiration lyrically from jazz and jazz musicians because I just am in love with how lyricism used to be a while back,” she explains. “Blues songs can get so weird. Even though it’s like four lines, it can get so creative in the span of such a small space.”
She continues, “I think Amy Winehouse is my favourite artist in terms of storytelling, her lyricism is just unmatched and she tells incredible stories in lyrics you’ve never heard before. I’m trying to do that in a totally different genre, but I’m definitely paying homage to her.”
College friends & writing in London
INJI explains that when she first signed with music label Polydor, they were keen to help expand her contacts in the industry. “It’s their job to put me in rooms that they think good music might come out of,” she explains. “I was scared for my first session because at the time I’d only written with two of my best friends on my bed, cracking up while saying weird or ridiculous things. I didn’t know if that would translate in the writing sessions, but they really nailed finding the right people for me to work with.”
INJI says that the writing sessions have now become her “favourite part” of the process, saying, “It’s a completely new mindset, new brains and new ideas that are coming together.” She prefers the vibe in London compared to LA, where she feels the music machine is more commercially-focused. “I love coming to London and how people look at music here, there’s space to experiment and find what’s cool,” she says.
This hasn’t stopped her from collaborating with her friend and fellow UPen alum Alex Graf who produced the new EP. “I’ve always said that at some point in a song, a lyric has to make you giggle or gasp in shock. If anyone thinks they’ve heard a lyric before, we’ll drop it. That’s always been my ethos and I’m glad I’ve been able to hold onto that.”
When INJI first started prepping her live performances, she wasn’t totally sure what the format would be. “I didn’t know if it should be like a DJ set or if I should be singing live, but I think we’ve found the perfect balance. We start in a full-on rave party, and mid-way through it changes into something totally different,” she teases.
Singing along is compulsory, says INJI, which includes shouting unifying chants against nasty ex-boyfriends, messy friends or bad DJs. “I want the shows to allow people to release their emotions and say, or shout, what’s been on their mind. If something’s been on your mind but you’ve felt too shy to say it, hopefully, you can channel it at the show.”
One track in particular titled ‘Madeline’ follows a rowdy night out with a drunken friend, helping her avoid unsightly hookups and messy mishaps. “There’s a lyric in the song that says, ‘He’s a short, cheap, ugly creep / Maddy, it’s just not that deep / let’s go’ and it’s a weird lyric when you write it down, but when you translate it to a live show, literally everyone will scream that line.”
“Let’s say you go through a horrible breakup,” she says, setting up an all-too-familiar experience for listeners. “I know there are the songs that you need to cry to and the emotional songs, but sometimes you just want to break the wall or punch a couch, and you should have a song for that too.”
Looking ahead to the future, INJI’s sights are firmly set on her live shows in LA on 26th and 28th July. She says, “The shows make me feel like it’s not a fandom, it’s a friendship group, and I just can’t wait to keep performing these songs.”
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