Behind Jorja Smith's "Blue Lights"

“I don’t want to talk about stuff I don’t know.” Jorja Smith opens up about why it’s difficult to write socially engaged songs and the meaning behind her debut single "Blue Lights".

Her songs are about social issues

Jorja Smith chose to shed light on police brutality in the UK in her debut single “Blue Lights”. Today, with millions of followers the young artist says she wants to continue making music that addresses social issues. Since her soulful and timeless sound to her original, profound lyrics, it’s nearly impossible to not be deeply moved by the spot-on artistry that Jorja Smith has gifted the world. Through her music, Smith habitually allows audiences to feel both pain and comfort. This is displayed within the lyrics of her debut song Blue Lights, a tune that sheds light on unjust police brutality while changing the narrative about how police view black and brown men.

“These young boys, young black boys, shouldn’t have to have a guilty conscience and fear the police if they’ve done nothing wrong but they do because the police are always after them. I wrote blue lights when I was 17 ‘cause I was doing my media work which was looking at, it’s so long, post-colonialism in grime music. So with that, I was looking at Dizzee Rascal’s music video “Sirens”. And that’s where I got the main… His lyrics are: “Blud I can hear the sirens coming. Can you hear the sirens coming?” And that’s what I took that from so that was in my head when I started to write the song," explains the singer.

Although Jorja Smith is absent from the video, the artist is well acquainted with its setting. Shot by photographer Olivia Rose, the visuals for Blue Lights takes place in Smith’s hometown of Walsall, England, and brings black men in both public and private spaces to the forefront. Smith grew up listening to reggae, punk, hip-hop, and R&B, and wrote her first song at the age of 11. She describes being "obsessed" with Amy Winehouse's 2003 debut album Frank as a teenager and was inspired by the singer's raw approach to songwriting. Smith says her songs are mostly about social issues.