After nearly two years in development while his fans and the industry patiently waited, London-based queer singer Sakima is finally back with his much anticipated mixtape, Project Peach.
“It feels really cathartic to finally be putting out these songs,” Sakima tells Billboard. “Project Peach has been like the definition of a slow burner. But there is for sure a lot of merit in taking your time with songs and deep diving into your craft. I’m just way more erratic and temperamental than that process allows, so it wasn’t easy!”
Following the release of Sakima’s first two EPs, Facsimile and Ricky, Project Peach is a collection of tunes inspired by various scenes in Sakima’s life, the lessons he has learned so far, and his thoughts on love, loss, and happiness. Less a linear story and more an amalgamation of thoughts, the entire listening experience is still decidedly cohesive, sounding more expertly produced and fully realized than Sakima’s past published endeavors.
Heavily laden with clean and clear synths, slick drum lines, and enough kick and bass to keep the tracks danceable, radio-ready numbers like “Love You Less” and “The Very Same” show off Sakima’s true pop acumen — a dark retrowave vibe that’s unquestiobably queer, mixed with a keen outlook on our society and its rules and regulations.
Sakima is one among a wave of modern LGBTQ pop stars who sing about their lives and expereinces in a completely open way, exploring topics that go beyond banal mantras like “I’m here, I’m queer, get used to it.” Cerebral in nature, Sakima’s songwriting delves into occasionally uncomfortable topics, offering more introspection than a pop music mixtape usually merits. In his passionate ode to unrequited love “God Fearing Men,” for example, we hear Sakima’s husky voice lament his circumstances. “I’m not asking you to hold me. I’m not sure that’s what I really need,” he sings. “But you’re on my mind, up between my thighs like every morning.”
“I’m exploring the undefinable shame that a lot of queer or closeted people go through, and how that affects romantic connections,” Sakima says. “‘God Fearing Men’ grew from someone I had a real romantic connection with, but non-traditional love was so far from their experience that it felt like an invisible wall between us. I refer to that ‘wall’ as the fear of God, this oppressive anxiety around being judged and excluded from society.”
Sakima is acutely aware of societal pressures, and is a perfect voice for the 2019 pop landscape. His music and lyrics actively fight against heteronormativity and the closets many are forced into, questioning the validity of rules created by a violent ruling class with little regard for queer lives. “Most people exist on an ever changing spectrum of what interests them,” he muses. “Oppression from our society is what makes that so hard to articulate. So many great love stories die before they can even begin because society scares the shit out of people. It’s tragic that on top of divisions like race, religion, and creed, we also have our sexuality or gender pitted against us.”
As a queer artist who takes pride in his process, Sakima has run into roadblocks many of his queer contemporaries face: a lack of financial opportunities, mixed with a trend of creative hinderances fostered by straight people too scared to greenlight LGBTQ projects. “I’m driven to make art because I feel cheated by the system, a system that disapproves of me trying to be non-traditional. The thing I want the most is simply an even playing field where queer artists get the same financial and career opportunities as heterosexual artists. I want labels to take risks again, and see that queer people can be just as big and successful as everyone else.”
But Sakima is still hopeful, and Project Peach is, in the end, an uplifting assemblage of queer pop. “I think I’m hungry for a new vocabulary, a new style of conversation that better reflects our new reality where we are starting to see individuals more, and the group less,” he says. “LGBTQ people are some of the most financially and morally stable, and I want to see the stigmas against us become a distant memory. I want the power of true and honest songwriting to have the chance to make real changes to our world!”