Can you tell me when you first took an interest in music? What inspired you, and how did you begin creating your own music?
Honestly Ruth, I haven’t got a clue when it was that I first took an interest in music. It’s just like a dream really, I can’t remember when it all started… Somewhere along the way, I recall being uplifted by heartfelt and honest music, systematically harmonising on various songs, having my own take on established classics, writing poems and setting them to music, falling in love with the piano and finally being able to write my first song down with the few tools I had acquired. Great performing songwriters – Bob Marley, Dolly Parton, Eboa Lotin, Barbara and Tori Amos to name a very few – inspired me as did the piano and my constantly wanting to empower people against injustice and beyond their differences through music.
How would you describe your music?
I have tried to create music that is minimalist, deep and universal, and hopefully revelatory and inspirational. It is my way of quietly digging up the proverbial dirt to show its golden side (or silver lining), like the alchemist I think every artist is. This requires riding below the superficial wave and finding our own strength beyond our apparent fragility.
I write lyrics and music every day. Ninety-nine percent of it does not make the cut though. My inner censor is a tyrannically selective control freak that, I am sure, is constantly trying to make up for the fact it is strictly excluded from any brainstorming.
What subjects do you most enjoy writing songs about?
I like to talk about life, what we all experience and recognise as one human race. I enjoy the subject as much as the method, especially finding and experimenting with unexplored perspectives.
What draws you to those subjects?
Those subjects erase the differences that we are brought up to erect between each other and promote empathy and understanding or so I hope. They help us evolve. They hopefully also help someone somewhere to feel like they are not alone because a writer has penned their emotions and a melody has exorcised their feelings. I know I felt like that growing up with such music.
How long does it take to create a new song and what is the process?
It can take anywhere between a few minutes (Free Like Smoke) and several years (Silence No More). I feel privileged to be able to stand on the shoulders of musical giants (from music theory to artists’ legacies) but I also want to acknowledge, understand and express my individual perspective and unique creative style.
For me, writing a song is finding the right lyric and the right key that will bring together what I know or think I do and what I learn during the process. It is all about experience, practice, discovery, self-discovery and, as Brad Bird once hinted, finding or creating the environment(s) that best sets our creative juices flowing.
You have chosen Listen for readers to listen to. Can you tell me what inspired that song and what it means to you?
Listen is the current single I am promoting. Like Hear, Hear it gathers up the listeners and evokes the beginning of storytelling set on music. It is the introductory messages of the bards, griots and many other performing songwriters across time and space that have brought people as one. This is my aspiration.
Can you tell me about your current project(s)?
I am currently doing a collaboration with a lovely and talented Liverpool-based artist, reprising one of my songs Free Like Smoke with an interesting musical twist. Of course, I continue to promote and perform songs from my first album.
I have also started writing my second album. The record will be about cutting the umbilical chord so to speak since my début LP was about ‘coming out of the black’. If I am going to talk about life, I might as well follow its cycle.
I’d like to continue songwriting including collaborating, and perform more regularly and wider around the world. I once attended a songwriting retreat and I’d like to experience the uplifting feeling of working this way with peers. I’d also look to do more promotional activities both for myself and for the online magazines I work with, reviewing musicians as well as start some experimenting with alternative media. In a ‘shorter’ term, I see very clearly the release of the first single of my second album.
Where can people find out more about you?
My website www.tikiblack.com has all the information about my music, videos, photos and more. I am also on youtube.com/tikiblacktunes and anywhere that has to do with music including Spotify, Deezer, iTunes, Amazon and Google, just search for “Tiki Black”.