Kadesh Flow is an amazingly multifaceted artist whose creative drive seemingly has no end. Describing him as an "emcee, trombonist and producer" only scratches the surface. He not only has performed in support for artists such as Janelle Monae, Dave East, The Revivalists and Tech N9ne, he is an avid reader and member of the NPC (Nerdy People of Color) Collective, a "community for underrepresented nerd enthusiasts." Enjoy our interview with Kadesh Flow about these subjects, how gaming and anime have influenced his music, and much more.
Introduce yourself and describe your music for new listeners.
I'm Kadesh Flow, an emcee, trombonist, and producer hailing from Spanish Fort, Alabama. My music is a combination of my love of jazz and my affinity towards southern and Midwest hip-hop. Lyrically, my content is about life, but from the lens of a blerd/geek who plays a lot of video games, consumes a lot of anime and sci-fi, and was heavily impacted by the fantasy worlds I consumed and am consuming. A lot of my music can be considered nerdcore, while some of what I do is just plain old socially conscious rap.
Your creative life seems to be a constant flow of musical collaborations, recording projects and live performances. How do you carve out time to write and work on ideas?
I periodically go through Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way to reengage creatively. A key staple of that book/program is the "morning pages", in which the recovering artist writes 3 pages every day when they wake up. I do this usually 4-5 days/week, if not daily, and have done so since one of my mentors gifted me with the book in 2011. You'd be amazed at how much this impacts my creative process, as I have trained myself to constantly flow lyrically. I also released a song via Youtube every week for about 6 months during my second year of graduate school in 2012-2013. This helped me learn to write consistently. Finally, my friend Emily gifted me with Stephen Pressfield's The War of Art when we were at Cerner in 2014. That book changed my life. A key staple of the book is ignoring the "resistance" and "coming to work everyday", separating your art from your ego, as if your art is a job. We separate our jobs from ourselves in a lot of senses. We come home. However, artists tend to wrap their ego into their art. It's dangerous and potentially damaging, but it also causes one to have trouble creating if life is really sucking at the moment. Pressfield's writing really reinforced a key facet of The Artist's Way, which teaches us to treat our inner artists like five-year old kids. Give your inner artist the attention and love it needs, but you and your artists are separate beings, in a sense. Pressfield's take on this is that your art is your office, in a sense. If you learn how to allow your ego to leave it, you can come back to it whenever you want. This helps me immensely, as writing a tune for me now is kind of like driving to the office. Doesn't matter how bad my day is going or how awesome it's been. The office is still there; I still have the keys to it.
Talk about your exploration into the intersections between anime, gaming and music. What is at the core of your love of anime and gaming?
I love engaging a character in a world that is new to me. I LOVE character development and really digging into the powerful lessons that can be learned from certain characters overcoming the odds. Experiencing this is both calming and motivating for me at once, and that is what got me into both gaming and anime. That is also why I can take something like the song "All Day" which is a rap about not giving up, but from the lens of the anime Hunter x Hunter, and make it really sell at a hip hop show where nobody gets the anime bars. They still understand the "I'm not going anywhere, and I'm not giving up" gist of the song.
What really sustains your creativity? How do you move through creative blocks?
I separate my art from my ego. My art is my inner creative child. My art is also my work, and I come to work everyday. Every. Single. Day.
What did you learn from the Room Service recording sessions that you’ll take to future projects?
Room Service solidified the value of collaboration for me. The right vibe with the right people eliminates time and creates beautiful art when everyone in the room is on the same page creatively. I'll never forget that after the experience of cooking up an entire project in 4 days. I'm still shocked by how good it is when I listen to it. The fact that it came about the way it did, in a hotel room, between shows and parties, is beautiful to me.
What’s ahead for you in 2019?
I can't quite talk about everything yet, and I don't want to blow things up too much, but 2019 is going to be a breakout year for me nationally. It's already cooking, and there are shows coming into place that I can't believe are actually happening. Aside from that, though, I'll be in LA and NY a lot more, mostly trying to learn from and leverage some of the industry connections I've been making. I'll be involved in quite a few projects as well.
My Otaku Moods album is coming VERY soon. It is a prequel to my full length studio project, The Last Excuse, which I wrote almost two full years ago as therapy and processing the combination of a very important romantic relationship ending while my career as a national touring musician was really starting to come together. Otaku Moods is a collection of emotional pieces that didn't quite fit the narrative of The Last Excuse, while TLE is more of a focused, chronological walk through June 2015-September 2016. Leonard Dstroy is executive producing the project, and we're currently revamping a few of the concepts to modernize them, enhance the production, etc. I'm VERY excited about it.
Also look for, potentially, a Room Service 2 (MAGfest, which is the festival where the first Room Service was cooked up, is in three weeks) Brass and Boujee 2, and way more content from The Phantastics.
Kadesh Flow's book recomendations from the Johnson County Library catalog:
- The entire Wheel of Time series. First high fantasy series I fully committed to. Also means a great deal because waiting for the 12th book due to Robert Jordan's illness and (unfortunately) subsequent passing introduced me to SO many authors and works as I tried to read other material while waiting. These include George RR Martin and Brandon Sanderson
- Everything from Song of Ice And Fire. I feel cool now, because I was trying to get my friends to read these before they became the smash hit Game of Throne series
- The entire Redwall series. These books opened my mind to different takes on medieval fantasy and made me want to become a fantasy author. I've since put the author aspirations on hold, but I started really writing my own fiction while I was reading Redwall books