photo creds: Joshua Asante
(This is the fourth part of a six-piece series on the one-year anniversary of the release of the Bike Rack Records’ Summer Mixtape in 2019 (sponsored by Bike Rack Brewing). This post features my recent interview with Dazzmin Murry, a Little Rock-based producer, song-writer, photographer, and one-half of the rock and soul group Dazz & Brie.)
I’m trying to stay active during the times and switching a lot of things over virtually and trying to keep things moving. It has definitely been a huge change for me as far as recording and working with other artists and playing shows. Playing shows is basically a thing of the past right now. I’m trying to make that switch over to virtual and I’m trying to figure out how to keep that energy that we love to bring at our shows alive and well through a screen. So, it’s a trial and error roller coaster right now.
Going back to Cali…
This February Brie and I had actually taken the leap to L.A. to do more studio work, production, and songwriting, because I think it’s difficult being an Arkansas artist when you want to focus on songwriting and producing – more of the studio work. You have musical hubs like Atlanta, New York, Nashville, and L.A. where that energy circulates so much that it’s just inevitable that you’ll meet someone or run into someone who will help catapult your career or to play a venue where a lot of artists or talent managers frequently go. So that’s just some of the things we don’t have here right now. Little Rock isn’t much of a scouting hub yet, but I feel like it’s on the incline.
We actually moved in February to work with a company, and then we had to come back to Arkansas for a show in mid-March, and the week we came home, COVID-19 cases were on a rapid rise and it wasn’t safe to travel back. That project has definitely come to a halt for us for now.
Photography has actually been my saving grace right now. It has helped me still work with clients, and it has been oddly increasing during this time. When everything else has shut down, it has given me the time and space to learn more, and it’s given me a steady clientele to work with which is a blessing during this time.
Going forward I really want to focus on lifestyle and fashion photography, so I’ve been able to do some of that with photoshoots for birthdays or family photos. I still want to incorporate a creative flare and keep my perspective in those regardless of whatever event it is with my photography.
Protesting in Little Rock…
The protests were eye-opening. I had never participated in a racial or social injustice protest before. It felt somewhat surreal to be there in that moment. Learning about the Civil Rights Movement when I was younger, and then learning more as an adult about what we’re not taught in school. To be there in that moment, and to be part of the same issue that has been here in America since the start of this country was just surreal. I also feel an obligation as an artist to be hands-on and to document and make sure an accurate representation from a black perspective is being presented.
photo creds: Dazzmin Murry
I recently spoke with Rah Howard about all of the events going on and the pandemic taking place simultaneously, and how it affects us as humans, and as artists – especially as black artists during this time. There is still a duty to document and speak up, but also fighting through the daily artist struggles of overthinking and lack of access to resources and trying to figure out how to redirect our careers because a lot of creative avenues require human contact or events that require to be there for you to make a living. So, it’s just having this whirlwind of disaster and trying to figure it out day by day.
For me, it’s brought a lot of my work to a halt without the resources to do the work and having the motivation to do the work and the support to complete it. If it’s a good day and you’re feeling motivated to do the work, then sometimes you feel guilty not focusing on the rise in racial tension. With racism so apparent now and so many people home, I feel like people are unable to ignore it. Racism is not something that is new. It’s just something that’s being publicized so much more and from different perspectives whereas we would usually have a media perspective of crimes and racism or incidents that happened, but now having those perspectives from people who are there in real time. The black narrative being so apparent as well. It’s one heck of a time right now… a big boiling pot.
Tough times don’t last…
Getting through tough times I like to focus on solutions. I like to focus on my strengths and what I’m able to do and what I feel may be a healthy solution for whatever situation I’m in. Again, by being back home and not being able to perform or have as many studio sessions as often it has caused me to focus on the resources I would like to have here at home. So the reason why we felt like L.A. may be a better move to achieve some of our goals
I have a 501c3 non-profit called Creators’ Village and working on phase two of a program rollout to create more opportunities for all artist to be inclusive of all artists – multi-genre, men, women, people of color. So figuring out how to gather those resources and distribute those resources equally throughout the state has been a healthy project I’ve been working on. So, focusing on a solution not only for myself but for other artists that are facing similar issues. In phase one I partnered with a local non-profit called Brandon House that I’ve done workshops and camps with for high school kids. The next rollout will focus more on artists like me to help support artists financially and creatively.
I honestly don’t know a word to describe my feelings for what is happening now. I would like to hope that things would change but being honest about the fact that this isn’t a new issue. I don’t believe that people were not aware. I just think it was easier to ignore when it wasn’t in your face. It’s not like we’ve provided new information to people to help bring a new awareness. It’s just bringing something to your face that you’ve already been aware of and you knowing now that we’re looking to see if it makes a difference in your actions or if people decide to change.
It’s a feeling of I would like for this to happen but I’m not sure if I’m hopeful that it will because it’s not a new topic.
Revisit Dazz & Brie’s single “Concept 2.0” from the 2019 Bike Rack Records Summer Mixtape EP on Spotify.
Check out Dazz & Brie on their website, and on Facebook
Aunt to the adorably photogenic “Chunka,” you can connect with Dazz on Facebook or Instagram or with @Dazzdoesphotography on Instagram.
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