Name: Sol Messiah
Recent release: Sol Messiah's GOC CMPLX is out via Rhymesayers.
If you enjoyed this interview with Sol Messiah and would like to find out more about his music, visit his official website. He is also on Instagram, Facebook, and twitter. He also has an artist page on the Rhymesayers website.
Where does the impulse to create something come from for you? What role do often-quoted sources of inspiration like dreams, other forms of art, personal relationships, politics etc play?
As a child, I was one who loved graffiti art, watching nothing on a blank sheet become a beautiful tapestry was always inspiring to me.
I love the classics like Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield, really, Hathaway, Pharoahe Monch, and of course, Quincy Jones. I get a lot of inspiration from studying their music.
For you to get started, do there need to be concrete ideas – or what some have called a 'visualisation' of the finished work? What does the balance between planning and chance look like for you?
Not always, I like to create off the fly sometimes. I would say it’s probably 50-50 of balancing and planning.
Sometimes I’ll be listening to classic old soul music and then an idea enters my head that inspires me.
Is there a preparation phase for your process? Do you require your tools to be laid out in a particular way, for example, do you need to do 'research' or create 'early versions'?
Nope! Lol! No, I like to just sit down and go straight to work either with a sample or a drum pattern.
It feels like it comes naturally, like the energy around me flows through my hands.
Do you have certain rituals to get you into the right mindset for creating? What role do certain foods or stimulants like coffee, lighting, scents, exercise or reading poetry play?
I like to burn Nag Champa incense and open all the windows. This creates a calming environment, it chills out my senses and opens up my intuitive process.
What do you start with?
I start with a sample or a keyboard idea. It’s always a vibe.
Once you've started, how does the work gradually emerge?
It’s sort of like a building block thing. Almost like Lego.
Once I add something I end up hearing something else then add something else, and then the castle is created.
Many writers have claimed that as soon as they enter into the process, certain aspects of the narrative are out of their hands. Do you like to keep strict control over the process or is there a sense of following things where they lead you?
It’s more of a vibe to me. I don’t really like planning that much because the unexpected to me is more interesting.
Often, while writing, new ideas and alternative roads will open themselves up, pulling and pushing the creator in a different direction. Does this happen to you, too, and how do you deal with it? What do you do with these ideas?
Yes, it happens to me a lot. I end up learning new methods of creating and hold onto that process to use it for the next time I create.
There are many descriptions of the creative state. How would you describe it for you personally? Is there an element of spirituality to what you do?
Music is energy and sound waves affect your mood. My goal is to create spiritual high energy when I produce music.
Especially in the digital age, the writing and production process tends towards the infinite. What marks the end of the process? How do you finish a work?
When I feel the circle is complete. I must feel a sense of completion. I have to feel like nothing else can be added.
Once a piece is finished, how important is it for you to let it lie and evaluate it later on? How much improvement and refinement do you personally allow until you're satisfied with a piece? What does this process look like in practise?
I like to ride in my car and listen to a project over and over.
Riding in a car helps me focus on the music vs. everything around me. It gives me a different perspective, a step back.
What's your take on the role and importance of production, including mixing and mastering for you personally? How involved do you get in this?
I recorded 12 albums on Sa-Roc where I produced, mixed and mastered the whole project. The newest being The Sharecropper's Daughter Deluxe.
Nowadays, I like to hand the project over to people who only concentrate on the mixing and mastering so I can concentrate on creativity only.
Here are a few I've recently put out where I fully immersed myself in the creative role; Sol Supreme (feat. Cambatta), Roc Steady (feat. Sa-Roc), and Limitless (feat. Evidence)
After finishing a piece or album and releasing something into the world, there can be a sense of emptiness. Can you relate to this – and how do you return to the state of creativity after experiencing it?
I’m always in a creative state. The process never stops, so I never feel empty. I feel like I will forever be able to give to the world.
Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you personally feel as though writing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?
Each individual possesses qualities and traits that are uniquely their own.
Creating art for me is like sharing myself with the universe, the ups and downs, the good and the bad.