“Getting people to identify or buy into any type of brand is a struggle to start. We don’t support our own as we should until other states or cities have bought into that brand. But I love my city, it is my home. It makes me a fighter. If you can make it here you can make it anywhere.”
Check out the interview with Jazatopia exclusively on Skilly Magazine Online.
Skilly: Where did this all start? Tell us about your journey in the entertainment business.
Jazatopia: Music was all I heard in my house as a child. My father was the guitar player for a very popular local band named Iron Horse Band (formally The Impacts) and our house was the rehearsal spot. In the late 80’s one of my close friends and I started off as a rap duo. We recorded songs in my dad’s basement studio, then I changed my mind and decided I wasn’t feeling like rapping anymore.
I wanted to train so I could be one of Janet Jackson’s dancers. Needless to say I never got that opportunity, but I did get to tour with a local rap artist. Even when dancing I picked music that I could close my eyes and see the choreography. I wanted to be able to tell my story with the music and dance to. I started arranging my own music. One composition turned into a recital piece used for a University performance.
Then I started arranging music for local artists. I arranged and produced “Get to Steppin” for Grady Washington and also arranged and produced some songs for a blues artist by the name of Lois. An opportunity to dance on TV became available, so I took a break from music to pursue that. The show remained on air for a few years. Once that was over music started to call my name again. This time I would try my art as a solo artist. I am always trying to evolve into something greater. Here I am, Jazatopia, the artist. The re-invention continues.
What would be your biggest piece of advice for the young kids out there trying to do what you do?
My advice would be to learn the business. Develop your craft. No one owes you anything. You don’t just arrive at a goal, you have to work at it if you want to be great. Network and uplift each other, don’t bash and hate on one another.
What are some of the hardest challenges and tasks in your position?
The hardest task is getting people to support your ideas. It is much easier to get total strangers to support you than the people who you see, work, or talk with every day.
We all know the entertainment business is very tough, but what do you find is the best way to promote and advertise your music?
The best ways that I have found to promote and advertise is via Reverbnation. Another way to get your music out is Soundcloud.
Tell us about your city. How are the artists and the fans?
My city is very innovative. We still have a long way to go in the arts and entertainment sector, even though Detroit was the home of Motown. It is so hard for artists from Detroit to be recognized in their own city without moving to NYC, LA, or the ATL to build a brand and then coming back to promote in their hometown.
Getting people to identify or buy into any type of brand is a struggle to start. We don’t support our own as we should until other states or cities have bought into that brand. But I love my city, it is my home. It makes me a fighter. If you can make it here you can make it anywhere.
Where do you see yourself a year from today?
A year from today I see myself continuing to strive to leave my legacy as an artist. Everyone will leave a footprint, it’s up to me to figure out what kind of mark in society I want to leave.
Who and what were your biggest inspirations? Who do you look up to in today’s world?
My biggest inspirations are Janet Jackson, Missy Elliot, and Timbaland for not being afraid to experiment with sounds. Right now my go to artist is Dawn Richard. I think her time is coming as an indie artist. Her voice is so powerful and she is also not afraid to play with sounds and switch up styles.
How do you feel about the music coming out today? Do you like it?
There are a few movers and shakers out that I like, but the music today is missing something. Why is everything so graphic? I like truth and realness just as much as the next person. But some of the content is too much. Have you ever been listening to a song’s beat and melody and said hey I like this and the lyrics start and you feel yourself start to cringe?
That’s how I feel with all the profanity and overly sex driven music that is out. Go back to the old days of your parents or grandparents’ records. If it was a love song, it was about love or so cleverly written that you didn’t know it was about sex. Let’s not continue to over-saturate urban radio with this stuff.