I don’t know about you, but I’m quite humbled and chuffed when someone that I admire takes the time to read something I’ve written, and actually takes the time to respond!
This has actually happened to me with this particular producer once before, as well as a few other inspiring individuals (all of which will be revealed soon).
I am nobody (no pun intended) compared to who they are… especially when they are pretty prolific in their respective creative fields. You just never know what could happen if you don’t at least try.
In saying that, after sitting on his debut record for so long and finally taking some time out to review it, I reached out to German-based rising soul and bass producer, IAMNOBODI, for an interview with the guy who created one of my favourite records of the year, “Elevated”. Truth.
Each time I listen to his work, he manages to create an euphoric atmosphere and landscape that brings together trip hop, hip-hop, jazz, and an array of layered electronic sounds, blended together effortlessly for a heavenly experience.
1. Who are you and how would you describe yourself.
My name is IAMNOBODI. And people ask me all the time ‘Why?’. So let’s clear that up for a second.
So this has nothing to do with low self-esteem or not believing in myself or trying to be super original with a name like that. In fact, this is just me being as honest as possible with everybody, while at the same time making people think about their idols who they look up to and just status in general. Hopefully.
I am just a regular dude, but does that mean that I have to dumb down myself or create a false image and whatnot to be able to do what I really love? Some do, but that’s not for me.
So to answer your question – how would I describe myself? I am a Father, a Friend, a Brother and a musician. But my girl says I can be complicated as f#!k sometimes. Well, I guess that’s true? Whatever..
2. What was happening the day you started making beats?
Well, that’s a tough one. To be really honest with you, I can’t exactly remember the very first day I started. But I guess it was f#@#ing life-changing haha! I only remember that a friend had ‘Reason’ installed on his computer. And from that very moment – it was on! I would stay at home making beats all day and smoke weed like a shaman aka a medicine man. 😀
3. Who are your main influences, especially whilst you were working on “Elevated”?
My Dad probably had the biggest influence on me. So I always carry that with me, no matter what I’m working on. But I listened to a lot of Northern-Soul and African Tribe music while working on “Elevated”.
African Tribe music or just African music in general is super inspiring – like all the different rhythms, different breakdowns and tempo changes – all that was something that I wanted to pour into my project as well so that definitely played a big part in making and producing this record.
4. What is the story/message that you wanted to portray with “Elevated”?
Uplift People. Like, that is ALWAYS the concept.
If you’re a musician and you’re not even trying to uplift people or at least make them feel good or think, then stop making music please. NOW! That’s why I have a lot of respect for artists like Oddisee (who happens to be the most genuine, down to earth and all-over friendly person I’ve ever met in the music industry), Big Krit, or German rappers Casper or Megaloh. I take something with me from listening to their stories and music.
So that is most definitely what I want to achieve with every release, too. I mean, I can’t confirm that I managed to pass on this feeling, the listeners gotta do, but I feel like I gave it my all to elevate them with my music. [sic]
5. How did growing up and [still] residing in Germany play a role in your sound and career?
I don’t really think it plays a big role where you live. Because if you can get inspired in your hometown, you can get inspired everywhere. But that’s just me. I mean the city that I live in has probably the worst Hip-Hop scene in Germany haha! Like, really, really the worst.. But of course that couldn’t stop me from doing what I do and what I love the most.
On the contrary, the ignorance and the lack of knowledge has motivated me even more to keep it moving. However, career-wise, I have few but good friends out here that do awesome shit as well, like my brother Suff Daddy (Melting Pot music) or Brenk (who recently produced some joints for MC Eiht by the way). So, it’s all good. I’m really inspired as f##k lately.
6. Have you experienced any negativity in your journey so far? How have you learnt to deal with it?
Unfortunately a lot. I will not pour my heart out and shit..
But I’ll tell you this: I’ve dealt with Drugs, Violence, Racism, Jail, etc.. A lot of negative stuff. But what I learned is that you really have to know who you are. Because you make your own decisions. Ain’t nobody responsible for yourself, but you. So if you decide to rob somebody, because you or your ‘friends’ think it’s cool, don’t act like you didn’t know you have to face the consequences for it.
I used to let others talk me down and shit so I was really naive. Until I got older and my wife told me that she was pregnant. So I told myself – “You have two options: being a full retard, doing bullshit all day or being a man that can stand on his own.”
So dealing with negativity surely made me who I am today. I am a Father of two now and I love my kids to death, so of course I see things a lot more differently then I used to. I try to surround myself only with positive people and positive things. I just can’t do the same shit I used to do when I was a teenager. Life changes when you have kids. You get to a certain point. And these so-called ‘friends’ don’t understand that. They don’t come around no more. Or even offer some help. They only holla when THEY need something. FOH! That’s when I realised that everything happens for a reason. That’s what I’ve learned. [sic]
7. What element of yourself do you always put into your music and hope that people will see?
I guess I’d say Passion. Growth. Soul. All that.
I try to put as many elements of myself into an instrumental as possible. I want people to really feel what I feel when I made the music. Simple as that. One thing about music, or beat-music or whatever you wanna call it – you don’t necessarily need words to express yourself or get a message across and that’s just great.
Look at the artists on Soulection. The majority of them do pure instrumental music, but it’s so deep and so impressive that one will only understand it as soon as he/she REALLY listens to it.
8. How would you describe the evolution of your sound, from the first beat/song you made to your most recent?
I’m learning everyday how to make my sound ‘better’ and more dynamic. I think my sound feels more organic now. A few years ago, I used to make only sample-based beats until I discovered that there’s so much possibilities to make ‘real’ music. No disrespect to other producers who sample.
From time to time, I might chop a sample and build from there too, but I prefer to play real instruments and create my own cool harmonies and melodies. So, to sum it up, I think my sound has a more grown and mature vibe now.
9. Pay it forward: what’s the best advice you’ve received that you would happily share with others?
“Do What You Love” – Joe Kay.
This brother is undeniably the perfect example that if you stay consistent, you can make it. I’m sure he used to dream of having his own record label and being in the lab with Ginuwine or whoever. And I’m pretty sure he had to sacrifice a lot of blood, sweat and tears.
I mean it’s hard work. But he’s here now. So with that being said, nothing in life is free except the air that you breathe. Just stay on the right path and believe in what you do. Don’t wanna come around all preachy and all, but that’s just what i see from working with him. A lot of respect for this dude and the whole Soulection Crew.
10. What’s next for IAMNOBODI?
I’m working on a few things here and there, but I can’t give you any specific details yet. There are some big things in the making, and I’m really excited, but I’d like to wait until everything is really confirmed.
But what I can say is that I already started working on my next personal album which will be different to everything you’ve ever heard from me. But I don’t wanna rush it. I wanna keep it real smooth and natural.
Apart from that, I will play a few more live shows until the end of this year. I’ll also drop “Elevated: The B-Sides” pretty soon with all the tracks that didn’t make it on the album. So, yeah there will be more music for sure!