Bambi Bains, Jaz Dhami, SIPHO. Members' Day Birmingham

How to... stay true to your hometown roots as an international artist

Birmingham musicians Bambi Bains, Jaz Dhami and SIPHO. share their top tips.

Sam Moore
  • By Sam Harteam Moore
  • 8 Dec 2023
  • min read

'Birmingham's home and it's cosy man, you know what I mean?' SIPHO. tells M as we look out on his home city's skyline from the rooftop garden at XOYO Birmingham in Digbeth. 'I think what I'm grateful to be taking from where I'm at [now] is how we bring our [Birmingham] mentality and energy to the creative space, and not bring so much ego to it. It's just about really caring about the work and the art that we do. My community of friends out here that encourage and support me to do this, I'm representing that out there and people are loving it.'

SIPHO.'s hometown pride is clear to see, which made him a perfect candidate for our Members' Day Birmingham panel Hometown Roots with Global Reach earlier this week (5 December). Hosted by PRS Members' Council President Michelle Escoffery, SIPHO. was joined on the panel by fellow Birmingham artists Bambi Bains and Jaz Dhami to discuss how they've each managed to maintain their strong relationship with home while enjoying international success with their music.

Ahead of the panel, M spoke to Bambi, Jaz and SIPHO. to find out more about how their respective creative identities are intertwined with their Birmingham roots.

Don't forget where you come from

Bambi: 'I'm super proud to be from Birmingham. The first thing that people ask when they meet me is, "Where are you from?" because I have a mixture of Birmingham and London accents, as I've been living in London for eight years. But I'm so proud to be like, "I'm from Birmingham!" I always represent, and I do a lot of work out here as well to help younger kids, so for me it's very, very important.'

Jaz: 'I'm so proud, man. I mean, I was born and brought up here, but I'd say I'm a product of my environment: that's my culture. I shout out Birmingham with everything that I do, so I'm just proud to be representing my city.'

Creative inspiration can always be found at home

SIPHO.: 'One way I stay true to Birmingham is just by being here. While I [often] have to do my little missions and do what I've got to do [outside Birmingham], I lay my head here, I get my work done here and that keeps me calibrated. It keeps me focused.'

Bambi: 'I come back here once a month. I do a lot of work with artists and producers here, and my family still live here as well. But I always promote my hometown: I made a song called My City for the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games. This year I've performed in Birmingham a lot for award shows and festivals, so the city remains very close to me.'

Jaz: 'It's a difficult one, because sometimes my music may not connect as much in Birmingham as it will in a city in India or Australia. But I've come back [to Birmingham] because I'm from here, and everything about me is Birmingham: it's so easy to fall back into that, so it's just about coming back to my city and making songs here. For example, I've just finished my album, and I had to come back to Birmingham to make it: like, there was no other way. I'm actually gonna call it Meanwhile Back in Brum!

'I was living in India for like six years: gigging out there, making records and touring the world. But I felt like something was missing, so I had to come back here. When I came back to Birmingham, I finished an album in the space of four months. That's why it's so important for me to come back.'

Your hometown will help you stay grounded

Bambi: 'It can be something you fall off from, which is normal. But I think for me, I've always been an advocate of staying low to the ground because anything can be taken away from you at any given time. Staying true to yourself is very important: there are so many things that can come your way, but being true to yourself is what people will value a lot about you, and you will feel good within yourself as well.'

SIPHO.: 'It all just starts with an idea. Just do it: you don't need this or that, you just have to go and do it. That can be at home or away, but, at the end of the day, what matters is you're doing it. Whatever you want to do, you'll find your way. It's gonna be hard at the start and it's gonna be terrible, but you're gonna do it because that's what you have to do.'

Jaz: 'You can't break it down in one point, because there's so many different elements to this. But I think being authentic is something I've learned more about in the last couple of years, and that's after 13 years of making music. When I came back to Birmingham, I realised that my most successful music was made when I was authentic to my city. But when I went out [into the world], it just felt like it wasn't connecting [as well]. So what I'd say to emerging artists, especially those from Birmingham, is just stay true to yourself, and don't try and be somebody else. Be you, because there's only one of you, and that one of you people will connect with.'