LA-based artist Jeshua has just released a powerful double feature music video project titled Duality, directed by River Gallo and Sadé Clacken Joseph. A visually captivating, emotionally driven work of art that focuses on varying concepts of freedom, Duality is a much-needed anthem that highlights the injustices brought on by the external world, as well as the challenges we face within ourselves. We caught up with Jeshua to learn more about their musical journey, and life during the quarantine.
Check out Duality below:
How are you going during this crazy pandemic?
I’m actually doing surprisingly well now. The first few weeks were really rough. As an empath I felt a lot of that heaviness and fear and hopelessness that I’m sure everyone felt at some point but as I cut myself off from the outside world I found myself become very introspective. I really felt myself revert to a super pure childlike state or creation and imagination that I haven’t been able to tap into for quite some time. I feel very artistically in tune with myself at this time.
Have the current world events impacted you as an artist in any way?
Definitely yes. I mean it sucks that I’m not able to see my family and friends and seeing people losing loved ones is super heavy. This state of uncertainty is definitely unnerving. Personally, as an artist, I’ve pretty much lost all my revenue from doing live shows and creative direction and so forth. Before the “rona” I booked my first residency at the Regent in DTLA which obviously got cancelled. That was something I was really looking forward to but I’m hoping the opportunities will still present themselves when the time comes.
How did your journey into music start?
I came out my momma singing and making music. I loved singing SWV and Janet Jackson and lots of gospel music as a kid. My family would always encourage me to sing (which I really wanted to do) but I was just super shy. Honestly, I still am very shy to this day and it’s something I actively have to work on. Anyway, I started singing in church then moved on to choir at school, then performing covers at parties and weddings till I decided to start writing my own music. I started sculpting out this vision of the artist that I wanted to be one day. That journey is still taking place but there is definitely a very definitive intention I have now.
What influences your sound as an artist?
Gospel music has played a HUGE role in my musical development and has really fine-tuned my ear. I credit those early years of listening to Bebe and Cece Winans, Fred Hammond, Yolanda Adams to my ability to really be able to stack vocals and hear harmony and create interesting chords. My mom played so much gospel music and funk and R&B as a kid and I resonated so deeply with it. As I got older I started listening to a lot of alternative and experimental music. I have friends who are artists that make really beautiful esoteric minimalist music. I sort of act like a musical amoeba, constantly taking in and internalizing all these ideas and sounds and interactions and repurposing/reinterpreting them into my art.
Your video project Duality is visually hypnotic with an incredibly powerful message. Can you share your inspiration behind this project?
With Duality I really wanted to paint an image of freedom. Freedom from societal labels that seek to keep black and brown men and women oppressed. Freedom from self-imposed resistance that keeps us from reaching our highest self. Freedom from thought processes that do not serve us. I guess you could say, freedom of self is the central theme of Decay, whereas Sleepless is more focused around the theme of freedom of a people from society, from racism, and freedom from socialized expectations.
What does “duality” mean to you?
To me, duality means the highest incarnation of truth. it denotes the ability to be multiple. Many truths at once. The ability to be very separate and contrasting ideals that some would see as contradictions but realizing that they, in fact, exist in the same an equal space. That is duality to me.
Both of the videos that make up Duality, Sleepless and Decay have such strong aesthetics. What impacted the creative decisions for these films?
I was really inspired by Eiko Ishoka who was a Japanese costume designer and director. Her work in Tarsem Sighs’ The Fall and The Cell and in Coppola’s Dracula, really informed my design ideas and decisions. Also, Madonna’s Nothing Really Matters video had some amazing pieces designed by Jean-Paul Gaultier which we tried to make nods to in the Decay portion of Duality. My design team (costume designers Aliona Kononova and Sami Martin Sarimiento) and I worked really hard on conceptualizing what these worlds would look like aesthetically. It was a very involved and detailed process, but it was so worth it for the end result.
Do you have a quarantine booklist or playlist you can share with us?
I just finished The War of Art by Steven Pressfield for the second time. It’s an incredible book, especially for artists. It really drags me and kicks my ass every time. Like each time I read it, I get a new revelation. I’m currently reading All About Love by Bell Hooks now so I’m really excited to dig deeper into it. As for a playlist, YES! I curate a monthly playlist on my Spotify artist account called Whole Ass Mood that’s an eclectic compilation of all the music I’m listening to that month. New music finds and old favorites. It’s really fun to share each month.
Photos by Myai Anthony @myyaaii