So… summer 2020 is shaping up to be an experience. With us being in the weirdest timeline, where the simulation runners decided to add every inconceivable world event at once, sometimes you just want to listen to music. Not just music, but a voice that makes everything feel better. That makes you feel like you will be ok. Well, you are in luck, because I got the chance to virtually interview the amazing artist, Zaniah.
MT: How are you doing today?
Zaniah: I’m doing pretty well! Just relaxing, enjoying this beautiful weather in this quarantine ha-ha
Zaniah is one of the fresh new voices that we will be hearing more from soon. She has this neo-soul blend to her that is so fantastic. You can even tell by her music taste that she has a dope voice. You can also hear her musical influences in her voice, and she also has a pretty awesome backstory of getting into music.
MT: Who’s your favorite artist right now?
Zaniah: Erykah Badu is a lifetime fave, Snoh Aalegra is killin’ it, Haitus Kayote, Victoria Monnet, Dianna Gordon!
MT: What got you into music?
Zaniah: I’ve always been really drawn towards music! I can remember being younger and just wanting to be near the noise, I remember going to the fair or little mini festivals we have in Louisville, seeing singers perform and thinking, “I wanna do that!” I got my roots in old country music, I used to be able to yodel really well and my mom heard me one day. Ever since, she encouraged me to sing my little heart out!
Speaking of her mother, she also said that her mom is one of the main reasons that she [Zaniah] hasn’t given up. Having a support system is important to your mental health and it is clear that her mom is a big part of hers. Speaking of mental health, we of course discussed her connection between mental health and music. Here’s what she had to say.
MT: Is there any specific music that you listen to when you feel anxious or depressed?
Zaniah: I really like listening to jazz, blues, soft rock, soul when I’m feeling low and sad. It’s so expressive and the lyrics that usually accompany it are so relatable. There’s nothing like listening to something that explains what you have a hard time explaining. Music speaks to you so you don’t have to.
MT: Do you find that making music copes with anxiety and depression?
Zaniah: Absolutely! I feel like the root of my anxiety/depression is not feeling good enough, also being too caught up in the past or too worried about the future. Whether I’m making music or writing it, music always grounds me. Music is my meditation.
You can truly tell from her voice that this is her meditation, that this is her peace. And she makes us all more peaceful when we hear her.
MT: Let’s move on to music, mental fitness and social media. How do you say that music helps your mental fitness?
Zaniah: Music allows me to be as creative as I want to be. There’s a healing power in creating something and whenever I do, my brain feels stimulated and hungry for more. I love losing track of time, just playing the guitar or singing. I love making others feel something. Music moves and grooves me, and it does the same for literally everyone. Music therapy is real and is healing the wounded.
MT: What do you think about social media and how it affects your mental health?
Zaniah: I definitely have to take social media breaks sometimes. The only reason I use social media is to stay connected with friends and family, also to put myself out there as a music artist because it’s just how the culture is. I found myself becoming really anxious or paranoid about posting things. It honestly might be a confidence thing, like feeling like what I posted isn’t “cool” enough.
So how does Zaniah cope and get on social media?
Zaniah: I’ve been trying to switch the narrative into thinking, “this is my platform that I can use for the betterment of myself and others.” I can use my talent to inspire people. Who cares for likes? Those will come or maybe they won’t, at least I got this positive platform!
This is so important to grasp, because social media can be difficult and draining, to the point that we have to write our own mantras and change our narratives about how we use it, much like Zaniah did!
MT: Would you say that it is difficult to get on social media?
Zaniah: As an artist, sometimes it is extremely difficult because I’m trying to sell myself as a product and also trying to gain a fanbase on an almost fake platform that is based on likes. Putting anything out there into the world for others is nerve wracking.
Zaniah: We all want to be liked and the notion of doing what is popular on social media just to gain a fanbase is draining sometimes. It doesn’t feel like an authentic way to connect with people because people can’t feel your energy through a phone.
“People can’t feel your energy through a phone”. FACTS.
MT: Favorite TV show?
Zaniah: Broad City
MT: What is your second passion? If you weren’t doing music, what could you see yourself doing?
Zaniah: I would love to be an actress. I love watching old Blaxploitation films and I’d definitely love to create and star in a modern day depiction of one.
Is a Zaniah Blaxploitation feature film in our future? Possibly, but what is definitely in our future is Zaniah’s EP, which will be coming on June 5th along with her first single! Until then, check out her Soundcloud page, and just vibe out to some great music! Thank you for the interview, Zaniah. MT Out!
Hope y’all are STOKED right now! Sorry, I really enjoy puns! In this time of just distress, I still wanted to interview artists. Don’t worry, I still practiced social distancing while doing it. But once this is all over, I can’t wait to see people in person. Specifically, this man, Jeremiah Stokes. Guys: this man is the truth. This is a man who truly cares about his craft and is one of the dopest people you will ever meet. I got the chance to meet him at a show in November and then one in January. I even played pool with him! Jeremiah is really good at pool. I got lucky getting one ball in playing with him and I’m still waiting for a rematch. We opened up our interview with a simple question, “how are you?’ I loved his response because it shows how down-to-earth of a dude he is. Oftentimes, we usually will just say, “I’m doing good” or” I’m fine”, but that response shows you how human he is.
MT: “How are you doing?”
Stokes: “Can’t complain, I actually feel great. I actually have work at 9 AM this morning but woke up at 6… but YESTERDAY was a great day, so I woke up in high spirits, just wish I got more sleep”.
As much as I love music, I am always curious as to how an artist got started in the business and what they would be doing had they not pursued it. Plenty of people want to conform to something that they are expected to do, as opposed to what they are actually good at. This is something I adore about Jeremiah and all musicians: doing something that they are great at and that they love. When you hear this man and the way he takes you on an intellectual experience through his music, you will understand how he was meant for music and why he feels nothing else makes sense for him. He did mention that streaming video games and painting are the closest things that he could see himself doing; however, the conversation circled back to music, as he said he enjoyed OSTs and BGM (background music) when he’s doing either one of those things.
MT: How did you get started making music?
Stokes: “It’s somewhat of a funny story. I initially got into making music because I was so lonely and wanted attention [initially]; that was until I realized how genius I was at it. So naturally, I gravitated to what I was actually good at.”
MT: “What would you be doing if you weren’t making music or what is your second passion?”
Stokes: “Absolutely nothing, I’d rather die than not do music.” As I said earlier, when you have a passion, that carries a lot of weight, and when you are doing it, you can rarely see yourself doing anything else.”
Being that one half of this magazine’s name is Therapy, y’all know I came in with the mental health questions! Damn, his answers were so raw and relatable. Music is its own therapy, especially when you find that song that perfectly describes your situation.
MT: “How would you say that music helps you with your mental fitness?”
Stokes: “Music is like a complex form of self-talk therapy when you find an artist, style or single that perfectly describes your feelings. I didn’t really develop any constructive coping skills in my formative years so I would literally just sit in my room and blast my favorite shit. Young “me” would sing along and resonate with almost every word.”
We’re also dealing with a man who loves lyricism and words in general. He has mentioned actually starting out as a poet with a huge vocabulary before delving into rap.
Stokes: “I started becoming obsessed with trying to know every song I loved, word for word. I feel memorizing so many songs, including my own, keeps my mental state very agile.”
MT: “Is there any specific music you listen to when you feel anxious and depressed?”
Stokes: “Lmfao sad shit, very dark sad shit. If it’s a bad mood that I genuinely wish to come out of though, I’ll blast some braggadocious, high energy music. If I’m low and not loving myself properly, I’ll listen to some mellow, introspective music to help check my ego.”
Jeremiah definitely has these types of songs on lock. Check out, “Corona” or “Answers” from him.
MT: “What are your thoughts on social media and how it affects your mental health?”
Stokes: “If I wasn’t destined to be a social media personality through the music I would dead ass not be on social media. I feel like the shit is poison. Social media is something that we all use, and unfortunately, in such an online networking world, it is somewhat of a necessary evil for promotion. That being said, there’s a ton of fake info, fabricated personalities, as well as inflated egos.”
MT: “Do you think it’s difficult to get on social media?”
Stokes: “Hell nah. Everybody is addicted to it.” Now that we have been forced into isolation it is even more addictive considering it’s the only way we stay connected as a society right now Where will we be in 3 months’ time when the quarantine and social distancing is over? Will we be in another mental health crisis, depressed and anxious?”
MT: “How does music help you cope with anxiety and/or depression?”
Stokes: “Dawg, it’s honestly the only thing that works effectively as I would like it to… every single time. Music keeps me alive, bro.”
Jeremiah’s passion for music helps him cope and him turning his pain into progress is why he is such a good artist, whose music just hits you. Like he’s said in his song, Corona, “I can’t get trapped in my thoughts, so I just stay on my grind”.
Whenever I get an opportunity to interview talented artist or even just hear their music, I always wonder which artists inspire them.
MT: “Who is your favorite artist right now?”
Stokes: “Mac Miller. Easy…”
Not too much to say with this one, just the fact that Jeremiah has great taste but we already knew that.
MT: “What’s your favorite television show?”
Stokes: “I don’t watch too much tv since I’ve fallen in love with music. However, I do love anime and will watch binge anything that catches my attention, such as House, American Horror Story or any type of documentary.”
This was a fantastic session with Jeremiah. He not only has some of the best music out right now, he is also a genuinely great person. Even through a screen, you can tell how humble and down-to-earth he is. You can tell that he’s someone that you genuinely want to chill with and just talk about music and anime. He’s someone that you want to beat in pool because you got embarrassed the two times you played—sorry, I just need a rematch soon! In all seriousness, having met the man before, he is an artist whose music you need to meet, because it will bring you into an experience. However, his personality will make you want to see him succeed. I want to see this man win, and honestly, he’s already winning.
Jeremiah, thanks for joining me for my first session, dawg! Hope my MT followers enjoyed getting personal with him.