Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Interview with Imade iN Truth, Part I

Thanks so much for your patience; it's about to be rewarded. :o)  With no further ado, it's my pleasure to kick-off 2012 off with my first--and hopefully not my last--feature interview! #applause  We're about to get to know a lot more about the blogger/music journalist known to the rest of us mere mortals as Imade iN Truth.  She and I initially made contact through Tumblr and I had the pleasure of chatting it up with Imade via email and on Skype.  She shared so much with me that I can't unleash it all in one post... gotta give it to ya in bite-sized chunks. Here's segment 1 of 3 from our awesome interactions, in Q&A format.

On Writing and Music

peculiar VIrtue (pVI): What sparked your interest in music, overall? Why music above all else?

ImadeinTruth (IiT): I’m going to come out of the closet and say this: I’ve been writing songs since I was nine years old. As a kid, I felt like I was living in an emotional war zone. I wasn’t allowed to share my feelings because it was considered a sign of weakness. The only way I could get them out was through writing songs. It helped me cope with a lot of hurts. I also had a lack of male role models as a child. Music provided positive individuals that I could look up to. They taught me about boys, social injustice, and of course Jesus. Music pointed me to the cross at a time when so few people were teaching me about life.

pVI: According to your blog, your content is focused on “soul music” but true musical connoisseurs--or ‘wanna-bes’ like me--rarely have just one favorite. *smile* What are some other genres that do it for you? 

IiT: I personally define soul music very broadly. Soul music to me is anything that comes from the soul. And that is regardless of race or nationality. If an artist is singing from a very pure place, then I’m going to listen to it. So within that macro-genre, I listen to R&B because I’m a melodic crack addict that loves full, dense vocals, Hip Hop for the edginess, reggae because it makes me feel irie, jazz for it’s fluidity, and rock because a good rock worship song makes me feel like I’m singing under an open heaven. If I could pick a “favorite” genre, it would be experimental soul. I’m a Frank Ocean, Nikko Gray, and Mrenc, type of chick. There’s something magical about concocting new “sound recipes” by drawing on the raw ingredients of different genres.
pVI: I feel you on the R&B, girl--especially the glory days of the 90s! Now, let’s flip the script. Any musical pet-peeves?

IiT: Yes, yes, and yes. Let me list them:
  • Old man in the club syndrome: When old people (read over 30) try to follow the latest trends to stay “current”. There should be a law that if you own a mini-van, you can’t use auto-tune.
  • Copy and paste Jesus: When people who just got saved yesterday censor their lyrics by saying Jesus or any other cliché religious phrase in place of a sinful reference. Please, have an actual message constructed on a biblical principle, and not the latest song Lil Wayne put out last week.
  • “Worship” turrets syndrome: This is mostly in gospel music. Saying “worship” every 3 words doesn’t make it a worship song. Every lyric and every note should extend out of a heart bestowing the utmost value on God. That’s where worship begins.
I have so much more, but I’ll have to charge you! I joke, I joke
pVI: LOL Girl, that “worship turrets syndrome” got me rolling! That’s one thing that I’ve always admired about you--your vocabulary swagg. So let’s get into the other artistic form of expression in your life: writing. How did you get started? And if you don’t mind sharing, do you have a process or anything else that keeps your creative juices pumping?

IiT: I got into writing because I wanted to stop annoying my friends on Facebook with my music posts. I felt sorry for them because every other post was: “Hey guys! Listen to this great artist!” So I went to Tumblr and posted my music finds there.

I’m a horrible person and probably ran over a baby squirrel because I don’t make this spooky deep prayer before I write (and I often forget to pray..oops!). I just pray that God guides what I write so I say everything in a spirit of love. I pray that my article finds the good ground of people who will be blessed by my writing because I know that my work isn’t meant for everyone.

So after that, I just start writing. I listen to the artist I’m writing about on constant loop and try to channel their emotion. I try to have a catchy and bold opening line that is in the tone of a friend you’ve known for years. Like Anne Lamott (a witty Christian writer who is my hero) says, my first draft is pretty crappy. I delete as much as possible in the second draft because the biggest sign of lazy writing is too much length (my weakness). Then I read it several times over and over again like someone who never knew the artist before. I ask myself, will they be able to understand what I’m saying? I usually try to provide a clearer context and add more descriptive statements. Then I set my article free and trust in the grace of God that He’ll take care of any overlooked mistakes
pVI: The way you pepper your reviews with your personal thoughts is always amusing (mostly downright hilarious). Do you plan to share more about yourself as your writing progresses?
IiT: There won’t be a focus on me, but I'll [continue to] sprinkle some of myself in-between my work. I’m waiting to gain a more holistic perspective of self before doing that.
pVI: Finding exceptional soul singers from the United Kingdom and rappers from NYC are impressive enough, but you go and pull out singer/songwriters from New Zealand and a reggae band from Hawaii! Who does that?! It’s said that a journalist never reveals their sources, but I still have to ask--where and how do you make your musical discoveries?
IiT: All I can say is divine appointments. God is the One that guides me to new artists. I always go through this emotional cycle where I moan about not finding innovative Christian artists and then God shows up and helps me find them.

I have two things going for me when it comes to music discoveries: ignorance and ambition. My mom didn’t let me listen to secular music growing up so I didn’t “know” who Michael Jackson was until I was 19. I know, I feel like I was raised in a closet too. I often say that I know nothing about music; I’m just good at writing about it. This ignorance gives me humility and ambition. I want to know as much as I can about music because I was deprived of it for so long. I always keep a notepad with me and jot down notes when my friends tell me about “real music”. I’m a control freak and barely listen to online radio stations. I Google and research artists that I see on playlists, twitter timelines, and blogs like Soulbounce, Rapzilla, and GroovSpot. Then I investigate until I can craft a story about the artist.

pVI: Above and beyond being a blogger, you have recently taken a professional leap of faith into the field of music journalism. Congrats, girl! You already have some respectable pieces under your belt (interviews with Rawsrvnt and StefanOtto and reviews done for Holy Culture and Salty Magazine), but how long of a journey has this been for you?

IiT: I only took writing seriously since this spring. God spoke to me in two very jarring dreams that I should leave my stable (yet, very time- consuming) advertising job and pursue music journalism full- time. This was over the course of a year. In February [2011], I felt that the spirit of God was moving on ahead of me and preparing a place for me in the future, just like the Israelites when they followed the Ark of the Covenant. Then in May, a prophet called me up in front of my campus ministry service (I volunteered at the time) and was said that an internship opportunity was going to open. With all of these “signs and wonders”, I knew obeying God was a lot safer than staying at a job that God was calling me to leave. Since the beginning of August, I’ve been a full-time music journalist. I applied to a journalism school in D.C. and I’m pursuing freelance and internship opportunities. That is my faith talk for “Jesus, I need a job!” But so far, I haven’t missed a meal yet. Praise God.

Stay tuned for Part II: The Person Behind the Name


  1. Allright PVI. I see you getting your interview on. I'm looking forward to part two.

  2. Yeah my gyul, thanks--tryin' a ting! #VIaccent :o) And constructive criticism is welcome!