Leila ‘Lilz’ Singh is the event promoter behind some of the biggest independent music nights – including grime’s renowned Eskimo Dance. On a weekly basis she brings brands and artists together to create memorable events. She’s hard working, ambitious and loves the music just as much, if not more, than the fans – maybe that’s why Eski is continuously such a strong event? We sat down with Lilz to discuss the foundations of a strong reputation, how music professionals can break glass ceilings and keeping the culture as raw as possible.
Could you tell us your first few experiences in the music industry?
It wasn’t as easy as it is now - that’s for sure. Nowadays people can just tweet someone they want to have a conversation with and ask for an email. Coming up in the early stages of grime, it wasn’t anywhere near that simple, you had to put in some serious graft. You had to get yourself in the right places, meet people face-to-face and actually prove your worth.
What sort of changes do we need to see in the industry to make it more accessible for women?
As a woman in a male-dominated industry it is hard to be taken seriously but as a woman of colour sometimes it’s hard just to be heard. The changes we need are for men in spaces of power to know our worth and to actually be a voice for us and say ‘well this girl from the ends is actually a better fit for this project than a girl fresh out of university - with no street knowledge at all!’. It’s pretty demeaning when women like me, who have lived the culture, see people who haven’t get positions of power when there are so many of us that have lived and breathed this from kids. We need the people that are already in the top spots to scream our names.
How do you feel, supporters and music professionals, could incite that change?
Like I said, it’s about the people in power actually screaming it and acting on it. It’s an ongoing conversation that happens behind the scenes, yet I feel so many are scared to actually speak out on it. It’s as simple as that. There are people in record labels, corporate brands, magazines and PR companies that know some of us influencers have been here from the beginning - it seems it’s easier to mould a girl fresh from the suburbs than control us. They need to look at the longevity of those decisions, they will drown out the authenticity of our culture if there is no real, raw, representation that keeps this whole culture 'cool'.
You've worked in PR, predominately with artists and events, how do you think each role differs?
I much prefer working events and brands more than with artists, to be honest. I like working with people who have their business together. I’ve been doing music for over a decade and I’d like to think I know my stuff! I hate working with people that are not efficient, business savvy or able to see the bigger picture when doing tedious smallest tasks - understanding it brings more greatness. Very few artists are level headed enough to actually want everyone to win. Many have tunnel vision to think their whole team is just for them, which in essence, they’re. I find it much easier and less stressful doing events and brand work. It gives me the flexibility to build my own CV and still work with all the acts and make them money.
What advice would you give to people trying to establish themselves within the music industry?
Understand exactly what you want to do and actually study the craft, be yourself and always stand firm for what you believe in. Network, make friends, stay graceful and always keep your integrity.
Image by Ashley Verse