She started off writing music at the age of nine. Shortly after, she started training and performing as a solo artist and in the church and school choirs. We are happy to introduce you to the talented artist from St.Louis, MO – Akilah Jae’ !
[Blaster] Thank you for your time Akilah! What music did you grow up listening to?
Akilah Jae’: I grew up listening to several different genre’s. I spent plenty time in the church, so a lot of what I listened to was Gospel/Christian music in my early years. I was also exposed to R&B, Pop and a little Hip-Hop early on. My favorite artists growing up were Destiny’s Child/Beyonce, Alicia Keys, Ciara, Brittney Spears, Chris Brown, Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey and Keyshia Cole. It wasn’t until I became a young adult that I started to listen to more soulful music from the 90s and 2000s. Artists like Lauryn Hill, Chrisette Michele, India Arie, Monica, Erykah Badu, and Jazmine Sullivan.
[Blaster] How did you become involved in music production?
Akilah Jae’: When I was a kid, I wrote my own songs. My parents thought they were silly until I kept getting better and better. One day my mother introduced me to a vocal coach that worked at her daycare. I was nine years old. From that point, we realized that I actually had potential in music. I began vocal lessons, then joined the school and church choir. I became so dedicated to singing that I competed in regional and state competitions throughout high school. I enrolled at Columbia College Chicago as a Vocal Performance major. I later, changed my major to Music Business. But in my first year of college, my parents gifted me with a studio session as a Christmas present. That is when I recorded my first single “On Top”. I was 18 years old.
[Blaster] How would you describe your musical style?
Akilah Jae’: I always find it difficult to describe my music style. Not because I don’t have a distinct sound, but because I was influenced be so many greats. My style is definitely more rooted in R&B/Neo soul. However, sometimes a little bit of pop and hip-hop are sprinkled into the mix.
[Blaster] Is there an hidden meaning in any of your music?
Akilah Jae’: There is often a hidden meaning in my music. I like to write my music in a way that is open for interpretation. Sometimes I am very direct about what I’m trying to say. Like in my songs “Deuces” and “What I Want”. The message in those songs are a little more self-explanatory. However, other times I like to use metaphors or phrases that can be received in more than one way. Like in my songs “China” and “Sandbox”. In the hook of China I say “Go somewhere like China. Please take me away to China. I’ll be eating off of fine China.” I don’t literally mean I want to visit China, although that would be nice. I mean that every once in a while I need a break from my current circumstances. I need somewhere that I can escape to and not have to worry about anything. I crave a destination where there are no worries and I can live free and lavish.
[Blaster] Who writes your songs?
Akilah Jae’: I write my own music, and have always written my own music. I sometimes write music for other artists as well. I pride myself in being a singer AND songwriter.
[Blaster] Where do you find your artistic inspiration?
Akilah Jae’: My artistic inspiration honestly depends on the day. There are a few different options. Sometimes my inspiration comes from the life that I am living. Whatever my circumstances or emotions are in the moment. But because I write a lot of music, sometimes I’m not necessarily feeling a particular way and I still want to challenge my mind. In those moments, I find my inspiration in the stories that friends or family members have shared with me, old situations that I have been in, or I might listen to my favorite artist at the time and put a spin on whatever they are singing about.
[Blaster] Do you have a record label? Are you a member of any music organization?
Akilah Jae’: I do not have a record label, I am an independent artist all across the board.
[Blaster] Who are you inspired by?
Akilah Jae’: I am inspired by the family and friends in my life that continue to fight for what they want. The ones that work hard for the people and the things that they are passionate about. Every homeowner, business owner, degree, marriage, certificate, license, career change, award, etc. Every time I witness someone accomplish something that they have worked hard for, it makes me proud, it motivates me to work harder, and it inspires me to go out into the world and be great. Sometimes it gets hard to remember your achievements, but every time I see someone else win, it is a reminder of how far I’ve come and the potential that I have to go further.
[Blaster] Do you collaborate with others? What is that process?
Akilah Jae’: Yes, I do collaborate with others. I collaborate with producers, event curators, and other recording artist. Most times the collaboration consists of co-writing a song. That process is usually pretty easy. It’s easiest when we are able to write a song together and go to the studio together. Everything always flows so naturally. We pick a beat, or a melody and we just flow off of each other as we build the song. Other times, either I have a concept or beat and I send it to someone that I feel will add the perfect touch, or the other artist may send me something that they have been working on. Once I receive it, I study it a few times and determine if it’s of quality and fitting for me. If so, I write what feels right, record it, and send it back to them for mixing and mastering.
[Blaster] What skills have you learned that will help you in your music career?
Akilah Jae’: I have learned SO MANY skills. It would be hard to name them all. For starters, as I mentioned before, I attended and graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a BA in Music Business. That program alone has taught me many skills that I still use today. Like creating a marketing plan, creating a business plan, coming up with financial budgets, reviewing contracts, registering to ASCAP for music royalties, copyrights, music management, entertainment law, booking a show for myself, booking artists for shows, artist development, proper etiquette for interviews, creating websites, one sheets and EPKs, and so much more. These are all tools that I literally use everyday and have helped to shape my career. However, there are other skills that I have learned from just trying to find my way in this industry. I’ve learned how to network and seek out new opportunities. I have also learned how to record my own demo tracks in my home studio. Most recently, I am learning what is takes to monetize my content on Youtube and across all social media platforms.
[Blaster] What are the main topics for most of your songs? Do you think topics will change overtime?
Akilah Jae’: I don’t know that I have “main topics”. If I had to list a few, it would be self-love/self-worth, love, heartbreak, and living freely. I try to create music with substance that is timeless. My topics may change a little over time, as I live more life and have more to talk about. My core values will never change though, and most of my music can be directed back to those values.
[Blaster] What are you working right now? Did you release something in the past?
Akilah Jae’: Right now, I am just working on perfecting my craft and pushing my released music. I am trying to get better with my writing skills so that I am able to write for other artist more often, and develop as an independent artist and songwriter. Recently, I released the video to my single “What I Want” on Youtube, and I released another single called “Have My Way”. Both released on my birthday in November.
[Blaster] What do you feel is the best song you ever released and why?
Akilah Jae’: I feel that the best song I ever released was “Deuces”. The reason why is because it came from a very real place. At the time, I was writing what I felt about a relationship that I was building, so it had sentimental value to me. It has also been one of the most fun songs to perform. The hook is catchy and easy to remember. The song is relatable. The audience tends to receive it well and sing along, even if they’re hearing it for the first time.
[Blaster] What would be your dream collaboration, with any musician or producer?
Akilah Jae’: My dream collaboration would be working with Lauryn Hill.
[Blaster] How do you balance your music with other obligations – school, hobby, job?
Akilah Jae’: It is actually extremely hard to balance my music with my job and my personal life. I wish that I had more time and more resources for my music so I could solely work on my craft, but I’m sure we all do. I try to give at least half as much time as I give to my 9-5. I also work on my music and my brand during my down time at work. I make sure that I have at least one day a week where I do not work at all, even if that day changes from week to week. I also am sure to stop working at a certain time every night, to avoid over exerting myself. If it were up to me though, I would never stop working. I find work even on vacations.
[Blaster] At the end of the day, what do you hope people take away from your music?
Akilah Jae’: All I want is for people to feel something when they listen to my music. It could be joy, love, hate, sadness, empathy, grief, self-worth, motivation. It doesn’t matter to me as long as you feel something. I do make an effort to write and sing with a different perspective. I like to say things and talk about topics that not everyone in my genre is talking about. If it makes you dig just a little bit deeper or relate in any way, I feel as though my job was done successfully.
[Blaster] Would you like to give any message to your fans?
Akilah Jae’: To my fans I want to say thank you so much for your continuous support. Most of my fans have been with me since day one, and I appreciate you deeply. When you pour into me, it just motivates me to pour into you more and to keep going. To any of my new fans, you are just as important. You give me hope that I can do this and that I have the potential to keep reaching new people. I love you all and encourage you to keep fighting for whatever you want. You can have whatever you put your mind to, even if there’s a journey to get to it.
[Blaster] Feel free to share your contact information for possible collaborations with musicians and social networks links, so fans can follow your work and access your music.
I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also email my manager, Angela, at email@example.com. I am on Instagram, Tiktok, Youtube, and Twitter @akilahjae_music. Or you can reach me on Facebook at my artist page, Akilah Jae’ music.
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