Poppy Ajudha is a 20-year-old South London girl making her mark on the neo-soul scene of British music. We spoke to her about Brainchild festival, her favourite artists and how it all got started.  Here is her latest track: ‘David’s Song’.

gal-dem: We saw you were playing at Brainchild festival earlier this summer. What was the vibe there like, being completely surrounded by other emerging artists?
Poppy Ajudha:
Brainchild was really nice, not so much because everyone there is an emerging artist but more because they’re all friends and it’s so nice to be supported by and support friends when they’re performing and creating. It’s also cool to be somewhere so relaxed where you can jam whenever you want or jump up on someone’s set (like I did with SumoChiefs for an impromptu performance of our song, ‘Running Away’).

So you started out as a songwriter before stepping out to perform your own music. What provoked this transition into the limelight?
I started out just writing poetry and then, at around 13, I taught myself to play the guitar so that I could compose my own songs. From then on, I’ve always been writing and performing.

Can you tell us a bit about ‘Running Away’ and the creative process that entailed?
I originally wrote [‘Running Away’] as a slow sad love song on guitar, coyly showed it to Joe and Jack (keys and bass) one evening… who made it more upbeat and lively, which then became this made garage tune with Olly on drums, Oscar on guitar and production by Maxwell Owin.

It seems like there’s a lot going on at the moment in the UK hip-hop/soul and jazz scene. We’ve got SumoChiefs, Ego Ella May, Tom Misch, Kojey Radical, Jay Prince and The Age of L.U.N.A to name a few. Would you say that it’s time for the US to start looking to us for inspiration?
It’s great that sick music is coming from the UK and that artists are keeping Hip Hop and Jazz current and are being influenced by genres that I think some of the best music comes from, but I don’t really have that UK vs US attitude… Good music comes from everywhere, I don’t think you can enclose creativity in borders.

Can you reveal a little bit of what it was like working with the mysterious VI?
It was good fun, we work really well together. When recording that tune he was always really enthusiastic about the way I sung things melodically so it was easy to create the song.

What can we expect from you as we draw closer to the end of the year? Tell us a bit about your up-and-coming EP.
I’m working on a lot of music at the moment, a few more releases and music videos, then an EP most likely next year.

Is there one artist you are in love with at the moment? Someone/a group who you think everyone needs to watch out for?
I mostly listen to older music… Motown, Jazz, Hip Hop and find it harder to really relate to a lot of new music. Having said that, I love Izzy Bizu’s voice, James Massiah’s spoken word, and other artists like Michael Kiwanuka, Hiatus Kaiyote and Jungle.