Simi Agbaje is the founder of The Blues Project, a leading R&B / soul media platform.
Simi launched The Blues Project six years ago now, with the aim to showcase the journeys of emerging R&B and soul-inspired artists. It has since become the leading voice and home of discovery for new-age Soul, R&B, hip-hop Soul and neo-jazz, platforming the best of the scene through their BLUES100 soul cyphers.
Simi’s latest branch of The Blues Project is SENSES a live music event at The Jazz Cafe.
We spoke to Simi about SENSES and her mission to make The Blues Project the leading voice and home of discovery for new-age Soul, R&B, hip-hop Soul and neo-jazz …
Please tell us who you are, what you do and where you’re from …
Gosh, the simplest questions really are always the hardest to answer. ‘Who I am‘ is probably best described as a woman trying to love God, love people and loves music. My love for music, tech and media led me to start The Blues Project, the UK’s leading community-led platform for forward-thinking Soul, R&B and Nu-Jazz. I was born and bred in Nigeria until I moved to the UK at 16.
Describe your life right now in a word or one sentence …
Transition … I feel like I’m in a very transitional time in life right now – I’m about to turn 30 and will also be leaving my full-time job at eBay to focus on growing The Blues Project, doubling down on our content, lived experiences and community engagement, while expanding our partnerships into a community-led agency serving brands, artists and music labels.
Tell us about The Blues Project and your latest project SENSES …
SENSES is our headline live experience series at The Jazz Cafe. SENSES is an invigorating live music experience designed to awaken the senses and showcase the phenomenal UK talent pushing boundaries and the sound of Soul and R&B forward. It features a stellar line-up, a world-class house band and live cyphers. We’re proud to be taking it to Manchester for the first time, as well as bringing it back to London in February 2023.
What’s your role in it?
As Founder, I bring our team together to think carefully about and work hard on making SENSES an incredible night for our community – our goal is for people to leave SENSES and think of it as one of the best live shows of their life. It’s a high bar but the feedback has been that it’s been just that for many so we only ever want to top that.
How did it come about?
In 2020 and 2021, we were lucky to do a number of event partnerships with Somerset House, Sofar Sounds and Soho House, as well as a showcase at Cross The Tracks festival. We knew we were on to something with those – we were proud of the feedback we received and learnt a lot. Our next goal was to create an experience we could really curate in our own voice and style for our community. We were offered the amazing opportunity to do it at the iconic Jazz Cafe and ran with it!
Highs, lows, solutions (tell us the high points, any obstacles to getting the project completed and how you resolved the obstacles)
Live events always bring a myriad of unforeseen mishaps. I love the essence of live experiences but find it nerve-wracking also that you’ll never know what challenges will be thrown your way. We’ve had people (including myself) get COVID close to a date, artist scheduling conflicts, issues coordinating so many diaries for rehearsals, etc. I’ve just learnt to roll with it and think as agile as possible – having a great team helps.
What’s your current plan B? (if it all goes wrong what’s the plan?)
Haha don’t want to think about this. But my career background is in tech and so I guess I would go back to a full-time tech job, preferably in media / social media. I’m a media nerd and love the business of media.
What’s made you Sad, Mad, Glad this week?
Sad – Honestly, running The Blues Project while still in full-time work is stressful.
Mad – Social media! I have a love/hate relationship. I enjoy it thoroughly but the most annoying opinions have a field day on there.
Glad – Started reading Searching For Enough by Tyler Staton and so far I’ve found it to be a delightfully refreshing take on faith and doubt. Would highly recommend it.
What are you watching right now?
I always feel ashamed to say I watch very little traditional TV and watch mostly YouTube. I watch several podcasts and creators on there. My faves are Higher Learning with Van Lathan & Rachel Lindsay, The Holy Post and Kimberly Nicole Foster – For Harriet.
What are you reading right now?
Searching For Enough by Tyler Staton. Can’t recommend it enough!
What are you listening to right now?
Ooo a lot of Ari Lennox, Durand Bernarr, Ojerime, Cleo Sol, Ravyn Lenae.
The last thing you saw on stage?
Til Death Do Us Part. A play that manages to be hilarious while focused on suicide, marital and family troubles directed by my amazing friend Justina Kehinde (who you can currently catch on tour).
What’s on your bucket list?
Another thing to be ashamed of … to learn to drive. I honestly can’t say how I got to about to be 30 without completing a course but here we are. I lovee travelling and want to properly learn to pole dance too.
Celebrate someone else (who do you rate right now?)
Justina Kehinde, actress, director and producer extraordinaire. Sahara Jones is an amazing designer.
Celebrate yourself … (make us proud of you)
I guess I am most proud of how far I’ve been able to take The Blues Project as a “side hustle“. I don’t think it comes across as one and I’m proud of that. I am very proud to have a great team of people who believe in the vision enough to commit to it. We’ve just reached a high of reaching over 650K people in October which is wild to me.
Where can we find you / watch/listen/read your project?