'Little Simz is culturally important': AWAL label boss Paul Hitchman on the Ivor Novello winner

'Little Simz is culturally important': AWAL label boss Paul Hitchman on the Ivor Novello winner

AWAL president Paul Hitchman has described Little Simz as “culturally important”.

The UK rapper, producer and actor won The Ivors Best Album award alongside co-writer Inflo this week for Grey Area (Age 101/AWAL).

"Simz winning The Ivors is immense," said Hitchman. "It's a further testament to her creative vision and all-round talent to achieve anything she sets her mind to. As she begins work on her next record we know that there will be incredible anticipation for what comes next.

"We purposefully built AWAL with extraordinary artists like Simz in mind, and are both confident and determined to support Simbi and her team to realise her full global potential as an artist and performer, which will no doubt include many more awards and accolades to come."

Grey Area was previously nominated for the Hyundai Mercury Prize last year. It has sales to date of 21,670, according to the Official Charts Company.

Little Simz recently renewed her deal with AWAL for her next album in 2021.

“Simz is culturally important,” said Hitchman. “Sometimes those artists, they grow over time, and before you know it they've got a catalogue of incredible records and incredible music. 

“You can see her growing in stature as a live artist, a performer and producer. She’s also an actor, she’s a creative force that we’ll see around for many years.”

Little Simz also won the Pioneer Award at the AIM Awards last month.

Simz used the lockdown period to record a new EP, Drop 6, released in May. It will get a vinyl release on November 27.

As well as getting playlist support from BBC 6 Music, the EP has boosted Simz’s Spotify monthly listeners to 1,229,526.

“The EP has been a big focus for us in the last few months,” said Hitchman. “She just dropped it out of nowhere during lockdown and it’s done phenomenally well. Simz has renewed with us for the next album, so we're very excited about that, it’s coming pretty soon.” 

Little Simz was nominated for the Ivor Novello Awards alongside fellow AWAL act Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds.

“Those are kind of the artists that we love to partner with,” said Hitchman. “Artists that have their own musical vision, their own business vision, and we're there to partner them and help them achieve those goals.”

While both albums are released on the artists’ own imprints, Hitchman stressed that AWAL has moved beyond label services. 

“We’ve outgrown that, I now see us as being the equivalent of a major label,” said Hitchman. “There's nothing different in what an artist gets when signed to the premium end of AWAL Recordings than what they get with a major.

“I'd argue that they get a better service than on a major, because we're focusing more globally and we have one global set-up. The only difference really is in the model, it's in the commercial relationship between us and the artist. I wouldn't call it a services model any more, we are very definitely a label.”

To read the full interview with AWAL’s Paul Hitcham, see the new edition of Music Week – or subscribers can click here

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