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Featured, Independent Bands

Adam & Kizzie Interview

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Oklahoma City – Newly signed Ropeadope artists Adam & Kizzie (home of Grammy award winning label mate Snarky Puppy) are a creative duo whose sole purpose is to bring the message of frEEDOm to the world. In this interview they share who and why they are and what EEDO means to them and what they want it to convey to whoever listens.

Who is Adam & Kizzie?

Adam:

We are a married couple and we make music together. We are followers of Christ. And those three things are the most important three things about us.

What is Eedo?

Adam:

EEDO is freedom. That’s the short answer.

EEDO is our approach to everything we do. Music, living, performing, and basically it says wherever you can find goodness and purity – that’s where you want to be. We have been conditioned that if something is packaged in a common way that it’s safe to consume. People have been tricked into consuming poison. We want our music to be undeniable and connect with people on a human level. Our training as musicians plays a part of it. What we’re doing isn’t just aesthetic, we’re trying to give people the truth. The truth is what sets you free. We want to speak from the heart. We want to draw people in with irresistible music and give people the truth. It’s better than dance music, and it’s better than listening music, it’s frEEDOm music. 

What have you learned about yourselves so far?

Kizzie:

One of the major things about this journey musically and career-wise is my vocal freedom. My artistic redevelopment. I come from a musical theatre background. Your training there is vastly different from any other performance. Your main initiative is to entertain. With music theatre, unless you wrote the book you are performing someone else’s work and embody that as much as possible. In that there is a certain lack of personal artistry. There won’t be too much room to offer your own ideas because the ideas have already been set. For me, as becoming Kizzie in A&K I had to strip myself down to the core and become myself. A rebirth, if you will. My physical and vocal presentation is in great contrast to they way I used to perform in a production. I used to restrict myself in certain ways because of what the theatre needed from me. There wasn’t too much room for performing or singing something too differently in a long-running show. Since doing my own music, I’ve learned and discovered things about myself I didn’t know were in me or believed to be personally impossible. I’ve been at war, cutting down the lies of limitations I’d for whatever reason mentally established for myself.

Adam:

I realized that when I went into the band, many of the things that I’ve learned about music I had to abandon. With what we’re doing I’ve learned as a well trained musician to get out of the way. I had to stop thinking so much about note choices, harmonic progressions and focus on the message of the music.

The thing about A&K is that I’ve been learning how to perform, be a husband to, and be a co-worker with my wife Kizzie all at the same time. I’ve learned that God is in control and in situations where I would want control I’ve learned to yield it to God.

Who are your main musical influences? What has shaped your sound?

Adam:

I have been inspired by a lot of artists and I have other influences that are completely conceptual. Mingus, Ellington, Nina Simone, Stevie wonder, Quincy jones, these are all artists that have inspired me. Some of my biggest influences are purely conceptual, like the sound of a gospel choir humming. It has a meditative quality of that for me has been a consistent sound in my ear. Hymns are largely influential for me also. The poetry, voice leading, and immediacy have all invaded my conscience from an early age. The sound of preaching is a direct influence for me (as heard on Train), though for many people preaching may not be inherently musical, to me it’s one of the most musical things. From the cadence all the way down to the sound of the typically un EQ’d microphone to the sporadic responses from the congregation. It’s the perfect symphony. 

Kizzie:

I’ve been a lover and student of all kinds of music. I spent a lot of time memorizing every single note, song and lyric of every Mary Mary album until 2008 and Jill Scott’s first album, ‘Who Is Jill Scott’. It got to the point where I knew Jill Scott’s album so well, I started harmonizing with every single note, I even harmonized with her speaking, and then I had begun singing the harmonies to every single note and lyric on the album. That’s how many times I listened to that album and been singing it. lol…There was just this period from my last few years of college and on where I studied very intimately everything I listened to. I have been inspired by the greats Aretha, Patti, Stevie and the like, of course. Donny Hathaway, Even Mariah Carey-but, old Mariah, tho, not the new Mariah. One artist in particular who has baffled me over the years and I’ve studied visually and sonically is Celine Dion. If anyone takes the time to listen to her delivery and watch her live-I’ve yet to find a single performance where Celine’s pitch every wavered from perfection. I’m serious! And I’ve tried to find it. It’s almost scary. Her vocal purity is incredible. I believe in the purity of music, which is why I very much strive to honor that in my own vocal performance. If I ever get lost and lose the pitch or mis-deliver a run, I feel like I’ve failed in my mission of vocal purity. If Celine can do it, I should be able to. Ha! So, I’m always striving for that growth and discipline.

So as far as shaping who I am, I’ve learned to discover my own voice. There’s a time when you have to finally strip away all that you’ve learned, emulated and mimicked and start from scratch. Almost like going back to the drawing board, and you begin the process of placing block by block the pieces to an immaculate lego sculpture that is you. The unique you! Every now and then I check back with my exampled greats, but just to keep perspective and revisit what I’ve learned or I look to them for guidance when I embark on some new vocal venture or fine-tuning. But, I don’t mimic or spend much time watching and listening to them, because I must focus on my own artistry now. Back then I was Kimila, the student and admirer. Now I’m Kizzie and I have to be her.

What advice would you give up-and-coming artists?

Adam:

For me, I would say, study, train, know as much about your craft as possible. That’s a step that’s skipped far too often. And make sure you’re always in tune with your love of what you do. Don’t get so caught up in chasing fame and money in the beginning. Just learn to really love what you do. Be honest always…in your message-in everything. Be yourself. Be original. Don’t allow anyone to define your art for you or to dictate the terms of your art to you. If you have something to say artistically, it’s because God has given it to you. So, I’d say, you know, keep your eyes fixed on God.

Kizzie:

You must completely envelope yourself with the art in which you intend to lead. The thing about this art, it comes with a kind of power. And as the great saying goes, “With great power comes great responsibility.” I don’t mean to say at all that we become some untouchable superior heroes, I mean to say, when you step up to a mic, everyone in the world knows that it’s time to listen. Even we know that. That is a universal understanding. But, it is the responsibility of the artist standing at the helm to keep the world listening. And if they’re listening, you need to be saying something worth saying. So, this means, if you step up to the mic, you sure as heck better know what you’re doing. Because just as quickly as people are willing to stop and listen, the will stop listening if you get up there lying to them. And as an artist and true leader, you need to be actually say something that is worth their time. People have lives to live. They work, they have families, may have had a bad day, may be in the midst of some terrible storm. A true artist must be able to in some way break down the walls of each man and woman’s existence in order to give them something that they can positively walk away with…if you’re charged with bringing joy with your art, it is your duty to effectively do that. if you’re charged with making people think over important life aspects, they should be deep in thought. And the ONLY way to effect anyone in this way with your artistry is to KNOW YOUR CRAFT. You have to study, mull over, explore, and constantly seek growth in your quest. If you don’t, no one else is going to do it for you and therefore nothing of any worth would ever result from the time you essentially stole from the people you convinced to pay attention.

Oh! And persevere! This is a tough profession and it can be extremely thankless in the beginning. It takes time to build your own independent career. It will be extremely hard, trying, and spiritually taxing, but you must persevere! It takes a lot of faith, patience, and sacrifice. Which is why some quit and get regular jobs. I can’t honestly be mad at those that do. But, if this is really and truly your calling, you have to stick with it. It’s not for the faint of heart, let me tell you!

You recently signed to Ropeadope Records (home of Snarky Puppy). What does that mean to you and what can we expect from you in the future?

Adam:

As far as the big picture goes, on a spiritual level what this means for us is affirmation that we’re on the right track. On a practical level, what it means is that we have an internationally renowned team backing us that will allow us to reach a much broader audience than we would have on our own. Our first release with Ropeadope will be ‘The Book of EEDO Vol. 2’ which, unlike BOEV1 will feature guest artists. You can expect more collaborative work from us in the future in general. And we’ll also be hitting the road. So if you’re interested in bringing us to your city, just hit us up!

Kizzie:

I second all of that. I’ll say what I said before in another interview: After putting so much of ourselves into our dream and so often feeling like we’re getting little back, Ropeadope came along and said ‘yeah, you guys are on the right track.’ We’ve worked extremely hard to get people to listen-to want to listen to what we, Adam and Kizzie have to say and share and celebrate via The Book of EEDO Vol 1. When we started, we were Adam and Kimila singing 80’s and 90’s top tens. And we just had to sneak our own music in the midst of all those covers. We are now at the place where people come to hear our music and the few covers we do are a fun/nostalgic extra. Now, with Ropeadope, we have our sites set on bringing our show to a greater number and to take it on the road.

You can purchase Adam & Kizzie’s “Book of EEDO Vol. 1” on iTunes, Amazon, or order a physical copy from their website.

You can also check out their new label Ropeadope.

About marsthewriter

Marcellus Coleman is a California native who moved to Oklahoma in 2011 to attend Victory School of Leadership and began taking courses at Southwestern Christian University, majoring in Christian Leadership. Composing since 2005, Coleman has continued to pursue arranging, recording, and performing original compositions at university, churches, coffee shops, and other various events. Coleman hopes to one day be a creative lobbyist, bringing together all variations of musical talent, propelling new artists into the public’s eye.

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