Winzday Love - Conversations with Artists
What is the art of what you do?
Music is my art and what I'm trying to do is to spread love, to essentially create a moment where there's no classicism, no racism, no prejudice. I'm using sound to create a moment of love that everyone can experience without bias of any sort.
How do you create sounds of unity in times of dysfunction, such as what's going on in our world today?
People are free to accept it or not. People that aren't open to accepting love and peace and unity might be that way until they're exposed to it. For people who are already evolving, we're trying to move beyond the surface of things. I think of it as if it's survival of the fittest -- that's kind of how it is with peace and revolution. There are going to be people who decide to join and people who decide that it's not what they want. They want to stay in their old ways.
How does music get below the surface?
Music gets below the surface when it's authentic and people open up to things that connect them to themselves. People like music that they can relate to. It's easy to open people's hearts and get below the surface when you create authentic music based on real experiences, whether it's from a place of love or even anger. Today there's a lot of music but it's largely emotionless. It's just there to make sound, for the most part it's not about spreading a message or evoking emotion.
Do you think people are hungry for music with a message?
I feel that many people are open to music with a message and that they are ready. People who have had an unconscious awakening are already there. I also think some people aren't necessarily in touch with their emotions. It's as if they're robots and they've checked out. They probably don't want to feel anything anyway - it's a lot to take in to realize you're alive. It's a lot harder than living without any wonder in your life. Imagine living every day and not looking up at the sky. That has to be dreadful.
Do you think music can be a tool for transformation?
Yes - and it has a lot to do with authenticity. Authenticity can open the hearts of people who are sleeping - letting them know love and human connection can still be made outside of the everyday surface-level life that they are living. Music can be an awakener. It's not only what you say as an artist, but also how you present the music and how you present yourself as an artist. I think that can also help open people's hearts up.
How do you present yourself as an artist?
I present myself simply as who I am. I don't have a gimmick. I don't try to be overly confident or insecure. I just try to be myself and I feel that people can relate to that. I like to present myself in a loving manner, in a nonjudgemental way and to let everyone know that my music is for everybody - even the so-called robots, the racists - everyone. That's how I present myself; very open, honest and vulnerable, even when I don't want to be vulnerable.
Are you able to be nonjudgemental on a daily basis?
It's almost too easy for me to be nonjudgemental because of the things I've gone through in life. As an artist I find it easy to let people be who they are. That's how I want to be treated, so that's how I interact with the rest of the world.
Do you find that coming back to you?
In my teen years - teenagers are cruel -- so I probably wasn't feeling it back. That's also because I wasn't secure in who I was as a person. Now as I become more secure and less critical of myself I get the love back from other people, because I give it to myself and to others. It's a cycle - a flow of love.
What sparked your journey in music?
My mom went to an art school in DC called Duke Ellington School of the Arts. She went there sing opera. My grandfather lives in Harlem and he writes poetry. Growing up, I saw them create so that sparked my creative side. Also my mom was an activist and throughout my whole childhood my sister and I sang at many of her events. That's pretty much how my creativity began. In terms of a solo career, I started creating music when I was in high school. I got together with some people that I knew, joining their band. We had our first show and then we broke up - they kicked me out. I wanted our music to spread a message but they didn't take it seriously. So there I was, alone again. A few years later, when I was 15, I wrote "Gypsy on the Run' with my friend who kicked me out of the band - that guy - and we recorded it at my friend Kofi's studio in Washington DC. Thus was the beginning of Winzday Love.
They kicked you out because you were too serious?
Yes - we just weren't on the same page. I don't know what they wanted to do. It was an all boy band. This is why I want to play with females.
Why do you think playing with all females would be different?
Today, with Afropunk and the movement that's going on with black women specifically in the LGBTQ community - and especially in Washington DC there are lot of women who are dedicated and open to creating good music and wanting to stand up for ourselves. I've worked with a lot of male musicians and they have not been very kind and openhearted. I find that when I play with women we create something that's really peaceful and it's not very rigid. There's no friction. It's not ego-driven. There's a whole different vibe to it and it's much more fun because we're all girls. It's like a slumber party all the time.
If you could go back in time to when you were 10, 12, what advice would you give yourself?
I would tell 10-year-old me to buck up and to stop being afraid because there's no use in being afraid when you're going to do it anyway. I'm not going to say I'd do anything different because every moment makes you who you are. Without all that fear I would probably be a lot further along than I am now. So I would tell 10-year-old me, don't be afraid, because there's no time for it. What's the point?
What were you afraid of?
People and their judgements of me because my voice was very different compared to others that were singing around me. I was afraid of who I was becoming and my individual talents. There've been a lot of people who have said 'you sound like this, you don't sound great, this person sounds better.' I would've told 10-year-old me, 'don't listen to them, just do what you want because you're going to do it anyway. Who cares what they have to say? Be fearless.'
What did your mom teach 10-year-old you, musically?
She directed me in terms of who she is as a person and introduced me to music that shaped the sounds and messages that I'm creating now. All the love, all the peace, all the culture, the different sounds that I like to create have a lot to do with my mother and how she fed me African culture, blues, jazz, future funk, afro-blues. That's what she instilled in me. Listening to her sing definitely was inspiring too. But she doesn't want to sing anymore. So here I am.
Sounds like you've had a lot of support in your life.
Yes, I'm very lucky. Maybe I haven't been blessed in material things. But in terms of love and support, I've had a lot, and it's helped me learn about intention - and how intention is powerful.
What is music?
Music is magic. That's why you have to make music with good emotion and good intentions. Not just about guns, violence, booty. That's what's going to happen in the world, and that's why it's what's happening in the world, because it's what people are putting out in every medium. News, films - everywhere. Getting back to waking up the robots - you don't have to see magic to know that it's there and to know that music has a powerful effect. You can be chillin', having a great day, you hear a song and suddenly you're crying. You didn't know you had those feelings that needed to come out. Music is an amazing conduit for release.
I think music is glue. I feel that music holds everything together. I feel that it's the glue for all of us. It's keeping us all sane. I couldn't imagine being sane without music.
The ultimate music must be this planet and in the universe that we live in spinning and moving in space. It's got to be loud!
Aliens probably have bomb music. There's no way they don't. I mean we're aliens and we have pretty good music. Imagine what the other aliens have. They have the ultimate space funk on Saturn. We've just got to get to Saturn so we can hear it.
How did you hear the story of your family was actually owned by a company?
Well, my great grandmother told me that story. I'd go to her house for the weekend while my mom would go to work. She would tell me that we have land in Alabama that was given to our family because we were owned by the Morton Salt Company. I don't know why but I haven't been very emotional about it. I think by the time she had told me about it I had already gone through an African-centered school where I was taught the truth and had already gone through my emotions about those things. So I wasn't super emotional about it. It's more that I'm curious about the land. It's going to be a lot of energy when I finally do get out there. I guess I won't really know how I feel 'til I'm there and I see where my ancestors lived. Where they were owned and did labor without pay. I found out we have horses that I've never gotten to see, and I want to be friends with them. I'm over being sad about it and I'm over being angry about it. I just want to move on and see how I can connect with it and get some inspiration and get some energy. - to talk to my ancestors and feel their influence over the music that I'm about to create because I do think they have a lot to do with the sound that comes out of my body.
Sometimes when I'm performing I feel that it's a different sound, like yeah, I'm there and I'm singing, but it's really my ancestors singing through me.
Do you have to plug into that or is it there?
I feel like I do have to plug into it sometimes. In terms of that specific tone and that specific sound, it's something I have to go inside of myself to connect with. I feel it's a higher level and I feel that my ancestors are trying to bring a message through me. It comes when it's supposed to come. I can't force it. Music isn't something you can force. The message is what it is. And it's going to come when it's supposed to come.
I feel like I deserve to know where I come from.