Sakima's Dirty Pop: Meet Music's New Queer Voice

BB23 2017
Anna Partington
Sakima

London artist Sakima was first attracted to a boy when he was 6: “I remember very distinctly a group of girls laughing at me and weirded out that I fancied a guy,” says the electro-R&B musician born Isaac Sakima. Though the feelings weren't reciprocated (“He was straight, as far as I know”), his childhood crush serves as the namesake for the 26-year-old’s Ricky EP (out Oct. 13). Through the seven songs, the singer-producer fetishizes daddies, rejects heteronormative traditions and explores the lexicon of Polari, a coded language used by gay men in Britain in the 1950s and ’60s, when homosexuality was illegal.

AS NASTY AS HE WANTS TO BE
Rather than cloaking references in innuendo, Sakima is forthright in his lyricism and doesn't hold back when it comes to being explicit. But he’s raunchy with purpose: “I’m not doing it for the sake of it or because I’m a horny fucker,” he says. “I’m doing it to represent gay people. We’re so underrepresented in pop music, especially when it comes to sexual expression. I want queer people to feel more connected to the mainstream culture.”

MUSIC WITH A MEANING
The snappy “Daddy” was inspired by the sexual essence of Fifth Harmony’s smash “Work From Home” (“I wanted to take that and make it queer,” he says). But it’s with “Polari” that he goes a step further, invoking the mid-century vernacular and paying homage to the path blazed before him. “I wanted to reintroduce Polari and reignite the history of it because it’s important we don’t forget parts of our queer culture and history,” he says.

WHO'S YOUR DADDY?

The crooner is planning a music video to accompany daddy, so who would made the ideal star? “I think Jake Gyllenhaal when he played the dishevelled guy in, like, Zodiac. He’s so brooding and emotional. But he’s like four years too young.”

NO REST FOR THE AMBITIOUS
Sakima, who has made music since he was 8, stays busy. In May, he released the four-track EP Facsimile, and after Ricky, he will take things in a different direction with a 12-minute song due in early 2018. He is also hard at work on a debut full-length album: “I write a few songs every day,” he says. “I think that’s going to be the standard for the next couple of years.”

This article originally appeared in the Oct. 14 issue of Billboard.