Jackson, Miss. native Rahkua Ishakarah is prepping for the release of her debut album Love, Loss, Lies this Spring. We got an opportunity to catch up with the rising star to get the inside scoop on her upcoming album. Check out our interview below.
JESSICASIMIEN.COM: At what age did you start experimenting with music?
Rahkua: Well my earliest recollection is from as and when I was 3-years-old singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” for former Miss. Senator Henry Kirksey! I also sang in choir throughout middle school, high school, and college. I started writing my own stuff in high school with my best friend at the time but I didn’t really become serious about it until maybe like two or three years ago.
JESSICASIMIEN.COM: How would you describe your sound?
Rahkua: I don’t really like to “genre-lize” my music because really I love to write and sing ALL types of music, from pop to gospel to rock to opera etc., but I have been describing my current project as mostly pop/R&B with a little jazz and soul infusion (and a hint of hip-hop).
JESSICASIMIEN.COM: Let’s talk your debut album – Love, Loss, Lies – what can we expect?
Rahkua: Hmmm….you can expect to learn a bit about me. How I handle and think about love and relationships…the cynic and the romantic all wrapped in one. You can expect some heart-felt intimacy and some feverish exasperation. You can expect some love, leading to some lies, leading to some loss…cause that’s how it happens right? (laughing)
JESSICASIMIEN.COM: (laughing) Yes, most of the time. Now, how did you come up with the title of the album?
Rahkua: Really it just came to me in my half-sleep, insomnolent thought ramblings at like 3am like so many of my ideas do. And I wrote it down and found that basically all the songs I’d written for the album fit one of more of those categories. It was perfect! Plus I’m a word geek and grammar freak so the prospect of using such a great literary device like alliteration excited me (laughs). I actually toyed with the idea of it being Love, Loss, Lies, & Lipstick but my team and I decided that was overkill.
JESSICASIMIEN.COM: What is your favorite track on the album?
Rahkua: I think “WindowPain” may be my favorite. It’s actually one of the last songs that I added to the track list and the last that I wrote, collaboratively with my roommate/college friend Quenna Lene’ who came up with the guitar line for it. My producer, Hotep Slowsteps, created the other sounds around her structure. But I really love the intimacy of the lyrics and I feel like I can really show my voice, the basics, on this song. It’s so emotional performing this one live.
JESSICASIMIEN.COM: What is it like trying to make a name for yourself in the music industry? What advice do you have for those who aspire to become artists?
Rahkua: It’s all this big process. I know it has been an overnight type thing for a couple YouTube sensations, but for the most part, this is going to be a longer, difficult journey of discovery, change, disappointment, amazement and hopefully success. So I’ve just been trying to stay focused and continue to ascend on each step in that journey that I reach. Since moving to California it’s definitely felt like a lot smoother path and I’m hoping to keep getting great opportunities to build on my brand and expand my fan base.
My main piece of advice for other aspiring artists is to figure out what it is that you are making, marketing and aiming for. The artistry is a given. You’ll work on that and it’ll hopefully be awesome, but when it comes to the business side of things, and actually getting people to listen to and care about what “awesomeness” you’ve created, that’s when things get serious – that’s when focus becomes of utmost importance – knowing your brand and being clear about where you want it to go will help steer you and put you so much farther ahead, especially when you begin to shop labels and/or take on management.
JESSICASIMIEN.COM: Wow, great advice! I have to tell you that JessicaSimien.com is natural hair friendly and we HAVE to know how you maintain your locs! Do you have a hair routine?
Rahkua: (laughing) I wish I could give some profound speech on hair care here but the truth is NO, I don’t really have a hair routine, I kind of just do whatever with my hair….a lot of experimenting and when I find something that I like I’ll remember and repeat for later! I’ve had locs all my life and I started doing my own hair at a young age so it comes pretty second-nature to me now. I don’t use any special products or anything (though I really like Softee – Indian Hemp scalp & hair treatment) just standard grease/gel. And I wash probably every 2-3 weeks (the front/unlocked part a lot more often). But I love to try all kinds of things with my hair to help dispel the myth that locs can only be/do one thing (and of course because it’s fun)!