Jel.Ani is a musician and recording artist in Chicago.
Ok, first off, tell me a little about your journey into music. I'm talking about when you were little - When you were first INSPIRED.
When I was younger my father played a lot of records. Mostly reggae, country, and old 70's music. So I suppose that played a large role in music exposure as a child. But really I started off in writing as a child. At the time it was moreso short stories, poetry, prose and creative writing. Slowly I moved from writing to spoken word, and at the time I was also involved heavily in jazz clarinet. So slowly I began to try to incorporate music to spoken word, and eventually I began to write full-fledged songs.
Did you grow up in Chicago?
No, I was actually born in South Bronx, New York and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. I moved to Chicago for school.
Ah, I see. May I ask what you studied?
Small Business Management w/ a concentration in Arts Business.
The writing aspect is particularly interesting to me. Are there any authors who influenced your creativity in regard to songwriting?
I read alot of Maya Angelou's work and when I was younger I liked Virginia Hamilton a lot.
Talk a little about your writing process. Is there a place where you focus best? Does your writing flow at once? Do have to keep revisiting work?
Well when I begin writing a song I normally start from within. If I haven't experienced something it's difficult for me to speak as though I have. A lot of times the inspiration comes when I am in the shower or doing very random things. Normally I have to stop what I'm doing to start jotting down a song. But the majority of my songs are written once through, so I don't like revisiting things unless it's for grammatical errors or something of that nature.
What is something that frustrates you within the music business and where is there an innovation in music that you find you particularly like? For instance, marketing, management, online sales...
I think the most frustrating thing I find in the business is that there are many individuals who are extremely talented, but their talent will never be recognized due to their image or lack of marketing and promotions. A lot of times I feel like many mainstream artists aren't artists at all, but moreso models with access to a studio. Regarding innovations in music, I'd say I appreciate the advancement of technology and what can be done without having a large budget for recording.
Agreed. For some people music is an escape. For others, it's their life's purpose... Where does music fit in your journey?
I feel as though it is who I am. I feel as though music is very much a part of me, it's what I live everyday. I don't think I can completely exist without it.
Right now, are there venues you particularly like playing at? Are there venues you'd like to perform at? And why?
I'd been doing a stint at a small dessert boutique-type place up North on Damen for a few months, "Let Them Eat Chocolate." Cool spot, and I've done a bit of shows in the small coffee shop circuit. Mestizo, Argo Tea, and a few others. I'd like to eventually start playing at bigger venues, but I'm still trying to find venues that would be the most condusive for the type of music I do & the crowd I'd cater to. But ultimately I'd want to play the Chicago Theatre [laugh]. One day.
Tell me about your music. Who is your ideal audience? Then tell me about the instrumentation and production. Do you do everything yourself? Who is involved with your music and projects?
My music ... it's as complex as I am I'd like to think [laugh]. It's influenced by soul, gospel, pop, hip hop, it's a melting pot of everything I've experienced thus far. Without limitation to any specific genre. My audience is ideally those who have lived ... truly lived their lives thus far, and those who are tired of plastic and illusions. The instrumentation and production is all done by me thus far, I haven't found the right producer to work with. So I play the guitar, and I do the drum programming, synths, keys, etc.
I have amazing friends who are also musicians and singers, so for live shows I ask them to back me up.
That's great. If I gave you these words :) which would pick to describe your music?
SMACK, CRUNCH, SIZZLE, POP, WHM, POOF, ZIP, AHHH... Or would you like to add to that?
Mmm .... "ahhh", and maybe "whm", if I added it would be "woooo." [laugh]
Greeeeat. Jel.Ani, do you have any other passions you'd like your audience to know about?
Well I enjoy many things, but music is ultimately my passion. I was once just as passionate about dance but I no longer dance so nothing other than music now. Music to uplift and unite people.
I like that. Really the last thing I'd like to know is if you have any stories you'd like to share... frustrating, hilarious, inspiring... Regarding your music journey that is...
Well until recently, I didn't realize how influential music can be, or the artist presenting the music. I've never considered myself to be largely influential, and still find it hard to accept, but recently I ran into a friend of mine who was with a group of other people (whom I didn't know). To make a long story short, they heard my music and once my friend introduced us they were extremely elated & immediately started singing songs from my album. The moment was inspiring, surprising, and humbling all in one. It made me realize that as much as I sometimes feel as though I'm singing to myself, someone is always listening.
That is inspiring... They knew your songs?
Yeah, specifically "Like This", "Be Here" and "Land of Nowhere." My friend let them hear my album and they played it on repeat [laugh].
That's so great.
For more info: Find Jel.Ani on Myspace