Name: Ezra Collective
Members: Femi Koleoso, TJ Koleoso, Joe Armon-Jones, Ife Ogunjobi, James Mollison
Interviewee: Femi Koleoso
Occupations: Drummer (Femi Koleoso), bassist (TJ Koleoso), keyboarder (Joe Armon-Jones), trumpet player (Ife Ogunjobi), saxophonist (James Mollison)
Current Release: Ezra Collective's Where I'm Meant To Be is out November 4th 2022 via Partisan.
Recommendations: Greentea Peng's record Greenzone 108; Ego is the enemy by Ryan Holiday
Over the course of their careers, members of the Ezra Collective have collaborated with and appeared on recordings featuring a wide range of artists, including Blue Labl Beats, Ishmael Ensemble, and Emma-Jean Thackray.
[Read our Blue Labl Beats interview]
[Read our interview with Holysseus Fly of Ishmael Ensemble]
[Read our Emma-Jean Thackray interview]
If you enjoyed this interview with Ezra Collective and would like to know more about the band, visit their official website. They is also on Instagram, Facebook, and twitter.
When did you start writing/producing/playing music and what or who were your early passions and influences?
Earliest influence would be Fela Kuti, from my dad's CD collection.
I was making songs and noise from age 4. I was born with it, it’s in me.
What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
It just brings me joy. Makes me happy, makes my soul dance. Always has. Hasn’t stopped.
When I listen to music, I see shapes, objects and colours. What happens in your body when you’re listening and how does it influence your approach to creativity?
Can’t lie I ain’t woke like that. I just imagine what the musicians are doing, maybe what synths they’re using.
No shapes or colours. Just vibes.
How would you describe your development as an artist in terms of interests and challenges, searching for a personal voice, as well as breakthroughs?
These challenges and breakthroughs happen in life. Not as an artist. The challenge is articulating the life changes through music. When God speaks to me, it causes breakthrough in life.
Now how to I get that out in a song - that's the deeper place.
Tell me a bit about your sense of identity and how it influences both your preferences as a listener and your creativity as an artist, please. What, would you say, are the key ideas behind your approach to music and art?
God - My relationship with Christ is really who I am and why I feel I do what I do.
Family - London, Nigerian, Jubilee Church, Son of an Immigrant. These are the building blocks of me and my family and they made me who I am.
My Calling - bringing joy through music.
How would you describe your views on topics like originality and innovation versus perfection and timelessness in music? Are you interested in a “music of the future” or “continuing a tradition”?
There's a place for both.
You need Wynton, you need Glasper. I love both. You need Tribe and you need Migos.
I love both. I study tradition, and create innovation. I’ll never be Max Roach, but he’ll never be me.
Over the course of your development, what have been your most important instruments and tools - and what are the most promising strategies for working with them?
Drum kit. Keyboard. Imagination. Youtube. Be creative. Be open and don’t allow for restrictions.
Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please.
Early riser. 6am maybe. Pray, read my bible, exercise, start making some music. That’s the vibe most days.
Sets me up perfectly. Unless I’m on tour. Then it's just rock and roll.
Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece, live performance or album that’s particularly dear to you, please?
"Opium" by Gorillaz.
It's like it starts in space. Makes its way to Cuba, then we go to West Africa and end up in Chicago. That's my vibe. A journey.
Listening can be both a solitary and a communal activity. Likewise, creating music can be private or collaborative. Can you talk about your preferences in this regard and how these constellations influence creative results?
I’m a collaborator, I love bouncing ideas, but there is a place for the solo mission.
But my preference Is other great minds with me, be it an engineer, musician, singer or whatever.
How do your work and your creativity relate to the world and what is the role of music in society?
I think there’s several roles it can play. I believe the music I make is to bring joy, spread truth. And bring hope. That’s what I'm aiming for anyway.
Art can be a way of dealing with the big topics in life: Life, loss, death, love, pain, and many more. In which way and on which occasions has music – both your own or that of others - contributed to your understanding of these questions?
When Uncle Tony Allen passed away it was a dark day, but I got all my records out and blasted them. I danced, cried and everything in between.
It was the perfect reminder that though he’s gone, his music lasts forever.
How do you see the connection between music and science and what can these two fields reveal about each other?
This ain't really me man, can’t lie.
Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you feel as though writing or performing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee?
Yeah it is different … creativity is very broad, but music is music. A good cup of coffee doesn’t change the world, it can only change your morning.
What do you express through music that you couldn’t or wouldn’t in more mundane tasks?
Maybe the true extent of my joy.
Also I struggle to articulate confidence without the risk of sounding arrogant. I find that easier to express on stage.
Music is vibration in the air, captured by our ear drums. From your perspective as a creator and listener, do you have an explanation how it able to transmit such diverse and potentially deep messages?
Not really. Just trying to write hard drum beats.