Welcome to my newest blog series “Artists Chat” where I sit down with various artists in different fields. We talk about art, creativity, and all those things in between. Feel free to contact me if you are an artist and wish to be interviewed as part of this series.
“Meet Toshwa Alexander, musician, artist and founder of 7DayOnes”
This weekend, I sat down with Toshwa Alexander, a young artist with drive and ambition. Toshwa is part of my network in conjunction to the work I am doing for Heart Powered Ventures. I’m very excited to share this conversation with you. I loved speaking with Toshwa – the written transcript doesn’t capture his unique, lyrical voice. If you want to learn more, you can follow Toshwa on Instagram @7dayones.
RINNIE: I want to introduce my friend, Toshwa Alexander, musician, artist and founder of 7DayOnes, a production company for up and coming musicians. Hi Toshwa! I’m excited to have you here today. How are you?
Toshwa: I’ve been good. Well…actually…that’s the easy answer. You just say “I’m doing good” but it’s rather like “I’m trudging through it,” you know.
I know what you mean.
It’s like, I have my dreams, my passions, and my business goals for 7DayOnes – but my lifestyle right now is not really conducive to doing my music and being an artist in general. I need to eat – but my work isn’t really about my art right now. Working at Wells Fargo – it’s all about policy procedure and very rigid. At Men’s Wearhouse – very rigid – “customer comes first”. I want to gain artistic and creative freedom over my life and it feels like if I don’t focus on it, I get lost in the world easily.
I imagine when you get home from working you’re just like “Hey, I want to chill.” What kind of things do you do to keep that focus and not just get lost into the day-to-day work life?
I have a calendar to schedule my time and cut down on screen time to sit down and actually write. Even if I’m on my phone, I’m jotting down my ideas and some music bars or something, so I can keep that ball rolling. I keep in touch with my more creative friends to stay inspired by how they are continuing to do their work.
Can you tell me a little bit about your art? I’m sharing this with readers and want them to get a sense what kind of artist you are.
I have been into music and have been musically inclined since I was a child. Music spoke to me and helped me get out of my shell. It was something that was comfortable for me to do to express my emotions – I could write poems and and songs and I really put my pain and what I felt into lyrics.
My music is about perseverance and about working hard, but it’s also about learning.
How do you put together your compositions?
I just put into words the song – I just free style poetry.
You’re a lyrical poet?
That’s right. I have a lot of rhythm – was born with natural rhythm. I can take my words and fit any kind of beat with it. I can make an original beat fit the song – so that it’s more an original work. That’s how it works.
Do you carve out specific times that of a day that you devote to art?
No…no I don’t. I should, shouldn’t I?
Yeah – it helps create routine and structure for creativity. This past fall, when the weather was warmer, I would wake up every morning paint for an hour or so – “Art before breakfast.” It helps to keep the mind focused on what’s most important – doing the art.
Then I’d take a photo and throw it up on Facebook and say “art before breakfast” – people give their thumbs up, and it’d been inspiration to keep the art and spirit going.
I want to ask you about 7DayOnes…what is it? what does your brand 7DayOnes mean to you?
7DayOnes is my brand that I created. When I was growing up my big influence was ASAP Rocky and ASAP. I don’t know if you know that much about them, but they were all just friends – his friends from when he was a kid – his little clan or whatever. They were really successful. I was young and impressionable, and I want to create something like this for myself. Two years ago, I came up with 7DayOnes – creating something for me and my network. I felt that I needed some kind of physical manifestation for my music and process – so I created my brand so people can have something physical to associate with me and remind them of me. But what I’m picking up though is that it’s not enough to just own it, but I need to be known for it, if you get what I’m saying. People need to equate me with my brand.
What does that mean for you to say you have to be known for it? What do you have to do to be known for it?
I want to say “network” – but it’s a different word maybe, like “company.” I want to be known for the company giving artists the power to brand themselves, to get into the studio and make whatever they feel they need to make. Giving them the freedom to roll that out and put their own brand on it. We would help them put on shows, get on the radio, and help the artist believe in themselves. We would give them a home basically
It sounds like you are creating a hub or a collective. The artist buys into it, but the reward is they have a community and a network.
We will have people who can make beats for them, and have people to record their songs, and make design shirts and merchandise for them. The artist can put all his or her effort into creating the songs they need to create and we’ll do the rest.
Hopefully when Covid is over we’ll go back to doing live shows like we were in 2019. We’re actually working right now on like a little studio place for our community. It’s coming along slowly but surely – that’s that’s my vision. I never had something like that. When I wanted to make music – I had to go find all that stuff for myself.
You’ve heard the expression for writers to “create the book you most want to read?” It sounds like that is what your doing – you are creating the space that you wish that you had when you started doing your music. You’re putting that creative artistic vision in not only doing music, but to create community – using your art to enhance the world and make it a more connected place.
Exactly! That’s my hope at least.
What does the word or the phrase “being an artist” means mean to you personally?
Freedom. If I can explain it – simply it’s freedom – because artists move by what moves them. What’s going to drive an artist is his or her passion, to complete whatever it is they want to bring to the world, whatever they want to create. You know what I’m saying?
I think that’s what’s powerful. That is what makes us human. We are all on this big, old earth ,and there’s so many differences between all the different kinds of life form, but humans have the distinct difference to appreciate art. Artists are very underrated in society, but we’ve always been there. You know what I’m saying? I just think that being an artist is ultimately about freedom. You’re not tied to any any idea that society is put on you. You can go do whatever you want with that.
You’re following your own your own beat but at the same time you are building something that helps other people on your building you know networks and community and relationships and it’s all driven from like within because you’re driven to do what you do
What do you say when someone comes along and says to you “I’m not a creative person. I have no creative bone in my body.”
It’s nonsense. How can they do anything if they are not creative?
You have to be creative to do anything your way. Everyone has their way of doing something – there is no person that has done everything by the books all the time.
Also I could probably find millions of examples through their own life and ways that they are creative.
What about you – what do you tell somebody who says that to you?
I think that by being virtue of being human, we’re all creative. If you step outside and you look around your street, you see power lines and mailboxes. All of it and everything else is powered through human ingenuity and creativity. Creativity is the foundation of our DNA. I would challenge them and say let’s go look at art together or listen to music together, and make lists of those things that inspire us. If we can help people find what’s inspiring to them, we can find ways to help them tap into their creativity. They are creative, but just need to be open to it.
That’s what I’m trying to do with my blog posts – encourage people to stop and look, find their inspiration and do something with it. Maybe I’m idealistic, but if we can all tap deep into our creative energies, we can make the world a better place. If you have the freedom to create, really create from within, you don’t have time for negativity, anger, or time to hate anyone else.
We’re being powered by energy coming deep from within that we need to share it with others and help them find a way to open themselves up to feel that energy and connection themselves.
Yeah, so if you can sit and talk with someone about something you love, they feel that you are giving that love to them. It’s all about love. It sounds great, creating my own little way to inspire others to have a better world and live better and be better with emotions. You are giving them love, you know what I’m saying?
Toshwa, on that note. I’m so happy you are in my life. I get to sit back and watch you and 7DayOnes grow and blossom. Hopefully you will find the resources and network you need to make it happen. I can’t wait see where you are at six months from now, a year – and five years.
Yes, thank you.
What does the phrase “being an artist” mean to you? I’d love to know.
You can also sign up for a free 30 minute creativity consultation HERE.
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