Understanding Mirrah As The B-Girl, The Soulstress And The Human

Sydney-based artist, Mirrah has blessed us with the first instalment, LIFE, from her forthcoming EP trilogy series. Mirrah embodies pure heart and soul into all that she creates. She narrates her compelling story of her upbringing, and engages deeply with the importance of self-empowerment. Acknowledging the roles that Mirrah has undertaken to shape who she is today, we take a look at how she epitomises what it means to be the B-girl, the soulstress and herself as a human in every aspect of her life.

We chat to Mirrah about how dance has impacted her connection to music as an artist, how soul has empowered her, and what message she is instilling in her listeners in her latest EP LIFE. Ayla Dhyani writes.

The B-Girl

Tell us how the hip hop genre first spoke to you.

I was introduced to hip hop at the age 4 on Venice Beach, California. It was more break-beat and disco funk sounds. That's when I saw pop-lockers and B-boys who spoke through dance moves. I knew then that that was going to be a movement my soul was going to resonate and be apart of. I also was introduced to Public Enemy, Rakim and MC Lyte, and knew that their messages and cadence was what became my early teenage soundtrack.

Has your dance career made an impact on your style and connection to music as an artist? 

My dance movement and clothes style is very much connected and reflects my personal rhythm. Its vibration has an individual language that allows me to converse with it through movement and groove.

How does hip hop influence you in your every day life? 

Metaphorically, music has a inviting rhythm, sound, vibe, and frequency and I feel that it doesn't prejudge nor have a barrier. It is pure freedom for all to enjoy. That is why I feel hip hop culture and its music enables people to connect. I feel I reflect that part of hip hop souls element.

The Soulstress

Tell us a bit about your creative process as an artist.

My process hasn't a barrier. It depends on where my creativity wishes to exit. I either write poems or I may listen to a beat and aim to share my vocal perception of its story. I just love when it glows naturally. I see hip hop as a wider purpose in music, a way to connect with creativity and learn about African American peoples culture and now translating all worldwide communities who share their stories. I have learned to also naturally resonate either positive vibes like a catalyst to empower, realign awareness, strengthen self and strengthen all people (especially females) by building confidence, self respect and cultural pride.

Who has influenced you over the years?

In terms of storytellers and social awareness, Nina Simone and Bob Dylan. For cadence and tonation, it would be Rakim, NAS, and Phife Dawg (for his vocal tone, his fun lyrical, backhanded comical and serious story tone). For mixing singing with rhyming and controlled cadence and lyrical flow, Neneh Cherry, Mary J Blige, MC Lyte, Bahamadia, and Lauryn Hill. Public Enemy and Big Daddy kane has influenced my performance strength. Then the main bands who made an impact to my life as a hip hopper would be The Roots, TLC, The Fugees,Soul II Soul, Pete Rock and CL Smooth, Caberet SOHO: Hot music, ATCQ, De La Soul, Pharcyde, Mobb Deep and Wutang Clan.

How has soul empowered you? 

Self-empowerment takes time. Soul is found once you acknowledge what feels good and relaxes your spirit and vibrates freedom. So it definitely continues to empower me daily in my life happiness and aspirations.

The Human Being

How has your background and upbringing shaped you?

As an adopted child at 4 months old, who has moved and lived in many countries with my beautiful loving multicultural family, I have matured to acknowledge and respect many races, cultures and faiths. Also my parents taught me to work towards my aims and that being spoon fed doesn't teach you to know how to feed self. So I feel I resonate honestly, my inner best as a humble fellow life student, to respect others and to have fun with what I wish to share in the world. 

What is the biggest hurdle you’ve had to overcome? 

I am a survivor of anxiety. 

What is the strongest message you’re sharing with your listeners in your debut EP Life?

It's vibration and undertone is as if you heard it like a classic vinyl on a light breezy, summers day and you feel positively refreshed about life. Each song has a personal meaning to how music makes me feel and the importance of communicating my feelings of each subject. 'So Right' reflects how music gives me life. 'Reasons' is a mixed message of how positive love is as equal as great music, metaphorically, makes one feel. 'We Wanna Know'  declares the importance of life as an ethnic multicultural background, or how the indifferences in our world are. It acknowledges that violence and ignorance needs to stop killing LIFE. 'On My Level' acknowledges that wonderful feeling of finding likeminded people in your life. Then 'Lil Vicki' is about sharing empowerment to young ladies or to those who have become victims to society's false requests of how we are supposed to be seen and accepted in this world. 

What moves you? 

My first EP is called Life. My acronym describes how, what and why 'life' moves me: I Live.Intentionally.Forever.Evolve. It comes from being a grateful adopted child and appreciate being a humble student daily.

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De'Wayne Jackson Inspires Us To Move Passed Fear

LA-based artist, De'Wayne Jackson has a burning fire to push himself above and beyond. Having moved from a small town in Houston to the bustling life of Los Angeles, he takes risks and expresses those fearless strengths in his latest EP Don't Be Afraid. He effortlessly hones in on a diverse soundscape, merging qualities of alt-rock, RnB, and hip hop, and takes us on an deep and emotional journey.

We chat to De'Wayne about his latest EP Don't Be Afraid, the biggest hurdles he's had to overcome, and what we can expect from him in the future. Ayla Dhyani writes.

Tell us about your EP Don’t Be Afraid. What does it mean to you?

To mean it really means just what it’s saying, “don’t be afraid.” I just want to tell anyone who hears the EP, that you literally only have this one time, only one chance to make a difference and an impact on your life or somebody else’s life. You can’t be afraid to try and to go forward. I feel that a lot of people have dreams, but they’ve got their own thing going and just do what’s comfortable. I believe that people should do what they believe in, and that’s really what I was trying to say on the EP. I think it’s very important and we’re all still trying to learn and grow from that concept.

Absolutely. I’m sure we can all relate to that. From a musical standpoint, what can listeners expect from the EP?

There are a lot of different sounds. There a lot of combing genres. There's the rock sound, the hip hop sound, the RnB sound, but they all combine to give these stories. We tried to bring it together sonically and change the tempos up to create something different to what you’d expect. It's just a good mixture of a lot of things that I’m inspired by. I really want to give a taste of all of it on the EP. That way people can really understand where I’m coming from and that I really just don’t want to be boxed in as an artist. As far as different sounds go, I just wanna make cool music. Whatever genre comes out.

Based on your latest track 'Truth Is', you had quite a religious upbringing. How did that influence your style of music?

For me, with the religious thing, it really gave me something to believe in and really gave me a lot of faith. Even if it was just prayers or believing in a higher power, I really just looked to that for guidance. It helped me make that move to LA from back home. Having faith and having religion behind me really played a big role for me. It gave me something to lean on.

With your move from Texas to LA, how do you find the difference in the hip hop community between the two cities?

It was a huge difference. Back home, I stayed in a suburb just outside of Houston, which was very stagnant. It's very closed minded where I'm from. You do one thing, then you take the next step, then you take the same next step, and there’s just a cycle that goes on. I find LA is a lot more open minded and I feel that I’ve learnt a lot more about myself. I’m still learning a lot about myself, but LA just really gave me the opportunity to really find who I was instead of being in this box of things that you have to do because your parents or your community are telling you to do things a certain way. It was a big change in a really positive way. It showed me who I wanted to become, so it was a good transition. I really love it here.

Absolutely. I feel that it is so important to pull yourself away from the box that you have been placed into your entire life. There are so many preconceived notions about who you are, and to take that step and discover yourself organically is pretty powerful.

100%. I completely agree with you.

And how did you first start writing music? What was the initial influence?

I was about 14yo and I had some friends that I went to school with who were trying trying to get a studio going. Of course, we didn’t have any of that or any money at all (laughs). So, my cousin ended up buying me a mic and once I started to really put my foot in, it really connected with me like nothing else I had ever done in my life. I had done sports and other things like that, but when it came to music, it really connected with me both emotionally and spiritually. It was from then on that I knew I wanted to do it. 

What’s the most intense moment in your music career so far? A moment where you felt “I can’t believe I’m actually doing this."

Honestly, I just had a show the other night for the EP launch. I had this feeling when I was on the stage where it was the most intense feeling I’ve ever felt. I really wanted to make myself proud and make my family proud, and make the people who came out to support me happy. It was a crazy feeling. I’d just never really felt anything like that. It wasn’t about the pressure or anything, I just really wanted to give a beautiful show. It was great.

I feel like we’ve touched on this already, but what’s the biggest hurdle you’ve had to overcome?

Definitely moving to LA. When I came out here I was living in a small studio apartment in Hollywood, paying rent that I couldn't afford and I was working two jobs. I worked at Taco Bell in the night time, and this paint company in the morning. Doing that and still trying to create music was very difficult for me. It was really tough. It was a dark time for me, honestly. Having just left home, it was really hard. It was difficult for me to not call my parents and ask for help or just go back home. But it inspired my EP, so now I’m just happy that people like it and hopefully it continues to grow. That was definitely the hardest time.

Now that you’ve pushed yourself to that level, what do you anticipate for the future?

For this year, I really want to work on an album or my next project. Whatever that’s going to be. I just want to continue to make new songs. I really want to get on the road as well, and perform this EP for as many people as I can this year. I really want to do that and just spread it as far as I can. That’s the main goal for me.

What moves you?

For me, just being a better artist and being a better person. I really want to be good at this. That’s what really pushes me. Of course I want to take care of my family and do that, but I really want to be a good artist. I want to grow, tell stories, and reach out to others. I just want to be great to be honest (laughs).

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Stream Don't Be Afraid here.

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MC ZotheJerk Evokes Power With Raw Vulnerability

MC ZotheJerk has teamed up with soulful producer Frost Gamble to create their powerful new album, Black Beach. Set to drop May 23rd, the album includes hard-hitting features from KXNG Crooked, Guilty Simpson, Sadat-X, Boldy James, Tone Chop and Young Bleed. Each artist brings a full force of raw and honest material that is in keeping with Zo’s push for creating vulnerable moments in music and life.

We chat to Zo about the motivation behind creating Black Beach, the writing process working with Frost Gamble, and the importance of being vulnerable in order to convey true honesty through music. Ayla Dhyani writes.

I feel like your new album is such a powerful production in the climate of today’s society. What does ‘Black Beach’ mean to you?

The album is really a snapshot of life and times of a black man in the United States at this time. We just tried to give a real honest depiction of the emotional struggle. The journey from the streets to being more aware of what’s going on politically. I’m just trying to touch all my bases.

When you were writing tracks for the album, were you writing for your listeners in the black community as a message of support or were aiming towards creating an awareness to all other cultures?

Well, I look at music as moments. So when Frost would send me some production, I would essentially spew out whatever energy I received or felt in that moment. It could be something I was reading that motivated me or a concept I had floating around in my head. Anything in that moment. I really try to make my music ‘user friendly’ for everybody, but I really direct the messages with a more empathetic ear towards the black community. Mostly because we don’t really have any leaders and it’s time for somebody to emerge. So I’m trying to fill that void.

Tell us about your creative process with Frost Gamble?

Well when I first heard him, I didn’t know that he was white. All I heard was this soulful sound that he had, and I was like “wow, this is phenomenal!” Then I found out that he was white and I was like “bro, just from listening to your music, I never would have picked that.” It was just interesting because he’s just so passionate about helping everybody. We just really clicked. There’s a real emotional feel when we work together. It’s just a very very emotional journey that we’re in. The way that he feels and the way that he likes to help people is the same way that I love to give and work with people. We just want our music to be as honest and emotional as life is. So we try to really get our honesty in every song.

How did you find working on the record together from different states?

Yeah, so the album was recorded over three states. So Frost would send through a tonne of tracks and it would take all of about 15 minutes to do all those songs. So the process wasn’t too difficult. We recorded in Detroit. Actually at the same studio where Eminem wrote some of the tracks for Infinite. So that was a blessing.

You’re from Detroit originally and have moved around a fair bit since then. How do you find the changes in the hip hop scene in each city?

Yeah, I’m from Detroit, then I relocated to Kansas city then I moved to Ohio. Hip hop wise, there’s really talented people in every state that I’ve been to. It seems like there’s a lot of emulation where people think that they have to emulate whatever the “hot-current” sound is. The creativity has been dying off. I’ve noticed it everywhere I’ve been. But then you’ll see a spark and you’ll see someone bringing that consciousness and creativity to the forefront. Hip hop is alive and is very well. I think that people will eventually get away from trying to recreate “radio hits” and singles that they feel have these catchy jingles, and eventually get back to being honest with the music. Everywhere I’ve been, no matter where I travel to, everybody has the same story. They say that their hometown doesn’t support their music; that nobody likes hip hop and they just want to hear what’s on the radio. In my opinion, the reason those songs on the radio work is that the person who wrote it, wrote it from the heart. So when they did it, it was pure. You have to find that moment in yourself where you can be just as honest. With our album, it was difficult for us to pick a single, because we just threw out so much emotion on every track. The conversation might be different, but it’s the exact same mood and exact same energy around the music. It’s just that they say it different. But it’s still the same.

Absolutely. As long as you stay raw and true, then you’re able to touch people’s lives and connect on that deeper level.

Exactly.

You’ve gradually moved into a more soulful sound. Tell us a bit about how your sound has developed over the years.

When I grew up, my father would play a lot of soul music. It was the era of Motown and I always had a lot of passion for music. But I was into more street music at that time because that’s just kind of where I was at in life. I found that I would make this music and it was difficult for me to be vulnerable within that sound. That’s where the soul music comes from. It’s the vulnerability of the music. And if you think about that – if you capture a piece of your soul, your innermost thoughts, emotions and feelings on song – that is extremely powerful. It gives you power within your vulnerability. I can tell you that I was in love with a lady and my feelings got hurt. I cried about it and could still be a man about it and still have that power behind it. Through that, we can lead our community into a better place. Then, on the other hand, I can also tell my son I love him in a song I write for him and give a piece of my soul out to him. I finally got to a place as an artist where I can touch that emotion and record a piece of my soul through soul music because it is emotional and authentic.

100%. That is the true essence of creating. Tell me, what stands out for you as a pinnacle moment in your career and journey with hip hop?

Well the moment that changed everything for Frost and myself actually came from my son. Back in Detroit, I was making street music and a lot of people around Detroit at the time were dying. We lost a lot of real, great, talented artists and it just got overwhelming. So I wanted to start fresh. I had a son, we relocated to Kansas. Getting to Kansas, I was having a conversation with my son one day and I remember saying to him, “you can do anything you want to do if you do your best.” And he actually asked me, “well, why aren’t you number one with your music, dad?” (laughs). And I thought… you know what, that makes sense… if I’m teaching you this, and you’re not seeing it from me, you can’t respect what I’m saying. So I told Frost that we gotta get this turned up, we gotta take it to the next level. Then the production got hotter and I was getting more and more vulnerable. The more pain that I could get out, the better the music was coming out. So from there, it was just a method of mastering how to channel that emotion and bring that out and say it honestly. How everything came out, is honestly just how I felt. It may be something angry on this song, or super happy on this one, but as long as it was an honest depiction of that moment and those emotions, I got stronger and stronger within the sound. That was hard to find, though. That took some time.

What moves you?

(Laughs) well, the only thing that really moves me honestly is just life. The beauty of the simplicity of the human experience. Everything that drives me and moves me. The process is such an easy thing: to live and be a good person. Morally, everybody knows right from wrong inside. I just don’t understand why humans don’t act human any more. It baffles me. We just need to try to be a better person. Every day.

 

Pre-order Black Beach here:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/black-beach/id1210542439

Reach out to ZotheJerk and Frost Gamble:

https://www.facebook.com/zothejerk.frostgamble

ZotheJerk

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Frost Gamble

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