With several projects in the works. Cha'ves Jamall continues to create art that is undefined by boundaries and spans multiple mediums.
INTERVIEW BY: KILE ATWATER
[Q] Where are you from originally, and what was it like coming of age?
I'm originally from a college town in Northern Indiana called South Bend, mostly known for Notre Dame University. The school district I grew up in was primarily made up of white upper-middle-class families. However the government-assisted apartment complex that my family lived in was barely in the district, and I believe that the only reason they bused us in (my largely black and Hispanic neighbors) was as a way to diversify. My home life was chaotic. I grew up in a single-parent household with two brothers and a sister. My mother is a smart, caring woman who suffered from depression. Having a child at 19 with few options leaves dreams unrealized. As a result, she was sometimes angry and I think resentful of the opportunities I fell into in this very white, privileged school system. I don't blame her. I lived two lives. One as a stereotypical, poor black child dealing with the friction of repression. And the second as a charismatic, theater kid working very hard to not let the happenings of his home life affect 'the show'. See, I learned that I was pretty funny and creative, and I could make people feel included. The separation of these two lives worked, in the beginning.
[Q] What was the reason for your move to New York?
I moved to Chicago pretty soon after graduating high school after a short cameo at a state school. In Chicago I played around in a few mediums; ballet, photography, fashion, before landing a gig with a web agency called The Plum Tree Group. There I began learning a new language of marketing, branding, and e-commerce. After learning my creativity could be flexed in ways that I didn't know existed, I began getting anxious and curious about the pieces of me that were still yet to be found. Because Chicago was so lucrative in my creative understanding, New York seemed like the natural next step.
[Q] How did you decide to become a creative?
I don't think I actually decided to be a creative. However, I did actively decide that I would animate this world however I wanted. And that the opinions of friends, family, and colleagues were just that: opinions. And, ultimately, I have the final say in my narrative.
[Q] Who are some artistS that inspire you?
It's hard to just pick a few artists that inspire me. I am the result of a cluster of several influences. My mother provided a backdrop of artists like Tony Toni Tone, Johnny Cash, Luther Vandross, Loretta Lynn. In independent childhood, I listened to a blend of India Arie, Lauryn Hill, White Stripes, Hellogoodbye, Nelly Furtado (her first album).
"These days I am the most comforted by Nina Simone."
[Q] What does your artistic process consist of?
Process. Such a funny word because there really isn't a process for the process. Art happens. I would consider myself a serial creative. I'm inspired by a lot of different mediums. So I supposed my process would start with understanding the message I'm trying to communicate, and pairing it with a medium that makes the most sense, or I think will be the most effective. Currently, I am looking to contribute to conversations around mental health and racial injustice. The music felt like the best platform to not only be heard but also to listen.
As far as my process specific to music, I typically start with a message, create a story, and litter it with emotional connections. My first single 'Field Trip' (slated for release in late May) is a track about mental health and how it affects the perception of self, specifically in a relationship (or in lust). One of the lyrics in the song is "When will I be loved next? I love sex. Standing in the mirror maybe I should work pecs... obliques, now I'm feeling on your buttocks" in a few lines, and I talk about insecurity AND sexual positivity. They do live in the same world. And as an artist I believe it is my job to communicate complex feelings in ways that are not only consumable but also relatable.
"Art is therapy for you and me."
[Q] What are some obstacles you had to face and how did you overcome them?
The biggest obstacle that I encounter regularly is me. My work is becoming less about what the world did to me and more about what I plan to do about it. Globally people of color have been misled in so many ways. Which can make it hard to not dwell in failures and false promises.
"The thing I have to remember is that while my voice is strong, the voices of a community have the potential to be much stronger. "
[Q] What are you most looking forward to in 2016?
My first single is coming out soon and I will continue to work on my first EP. It's funny because you always see interviews in which musicians talk about how much they love the studio. Well I guess I'll be cliche. Being able to take a written piece and translating it into a sonic experience is such a satisfying process.
FOLLOW CHA'VES ON INSTAGRAM.