Jehlad Akin has been deeply intwined in music his whole life. Hailing from the east coast, now residing in San Diego, Jehlad takes inspiration from all connections he’s made through places and people to create a unique, intertwined Neo-soul sound. We had the chance to catch up with Jehlad after seeing is awe-inspiring performance at Springboard West, below our some insight into how Jehlad strengthens connection through music, and what we can look forward to in the coming months.
1. Tell us a little about your journey into music. How did you start, we’re there any moments, people, or songs that stick out as important influences in your musical life?
My journey into music started when I was very young. At the age of 2 my mother bought me a set of bongos and congas. My mother knew right away that I had this constant rhythm flowing in me when I used to hit my hands on my grandfather’s couch, always creating a nice drum beat, yet annoying a lot of people in my house. I grew up in New Hampshire early in my childhood, and although music was always playing in the house, none of my family members were truly musically inclined, and truthfully whenever I would try to sing, I was always silenced. One of the first songs that I remember hearing a lot was Montell Jordan’s 1995 hit “This Is How We Do It.”
2. You moved around a lot growing up, do you feel like there is a place or home that has most influenced your musical sound, or do you feel you grab sound from all the places you’ve been?
I tend to grab sound from most of the places that I have moved to. Even though I have moved around over 19 different times in my life, each city reminds me of a certain genre. Since living in California when I moved here a year ago, music like Blues, Jazz, and R&B/Soul from the 1940’s, 1950’s, 1960’s, and 1970’s have moved me into the artist I want to be. Living in Philadelphia and frequently visiting New York City has always made me think about Hip-Hop, while growing up in New Hampshire has made me think about Neo-Soul and other forms of music like classic rock bands Fleetwood Mac, Aerosmith, Queen, ELO, The Moody Blues, and the Eagles among others.
3. We know music goes beyond singing and songwriting to you, and can even be seen as a spiritual tool, can you talk a little about how you came to this understanding and how do you go about utilizing music in a deeper way the mere listening or playing?
Music is therapy. It is innate and resides in all of us. It is truly one of the last forms of connection that can bond the most fiercest enemies together. I use music to heal from hurt, and to inspire me to create the best sound, and the best version of myself.
4. What does your musical process look like? How do you go about recording or writing a song?
I usually start my musical process by listening very closely to my favorite influences and my musical idols. Then, I light some incense or candles, and if I’m not inside, I got a secluded area outside near nature and breathe and try to create the best lyrics. Most of the time, I hang out with my friends, and that’s when the fun stuff within writing is created.
5. If you were to make a playlist describing your sound, what top-five other artists would be on it and why?
To describe my sound, I would create a playlist with these five artists;
Maxwell, because he pioneered the Neo-Soul Genre
Marvin Gaye, because he has influenced so many modern R&B/Soul artists with his work
Curtis Mayfield, from his guitar playing, to which even Jimi Hendrix was a fan of, to his longevity and his creativeness, it is unmatched
Sam Cooke, because he is the man who invented soul music, which then inspired people like Otis Redding, Bobby Womack, Al Green and so many others to build on the genre
Finally, Stevie Wonder, because he makes the best songs in the world.
6. What artist, dead or alive, would you most want to work with and why?
I would want to work with Frank Ocean. He created a really amazing niche to R&B that is current, it appeals to the young and older generation, and it seems simplistic, yet very complicated in it’s structure.
7. When you create or perform a song, what do you hope your audience gains from it, any specific feelings or messages?
I love when my audience is paying close attention to my words. When the audience is watching me channel my emotions to them, almost like I transferring whatever feeling that song is, has the best effect.
8. What advice would give your listeners who are on similar journeys to make their dreams a reality?
It is very hard work. It seems like you are going through constant turns and constant waves of the highs and lows. My best advice would be to work as hard as you can, be in two places at the same time without truly forcing yourself to do so, and stay positive in the darkest times.
9. Community is an incredibly important part of your life both in and outside of your music career, how do you go about finding and strengthening your community here in San Diego, and how does this relate to the business of music?
I try to never leave a relationship off in a bad way. I try to reconcile every thing that has ever happened. Of course it is true that you cannot please every body, yet if you show your face to every jam, open mic, karaoke, and support others through their show, their music online, you can do nothing wrong. We all need each other and we all would do better if we worked together. I love and look up to every musician that I have ever met in this city.
10. We got to see you play at Springboard, and it was epic! What can we look forward to from you in the near future?
I am working on so many projects, too many to be exact. I will be graduating with my MBA in December 2020, and by that time, I am planning on ending the year with a trap music EP, a couple of modern R&B/”Trap Soul” EPs, a modern indie EP, a soul LP, and a international west coast tour from Tijuana to Vancouver. I have also have some really great business plans that include creating my own music therapy office, my own record label and more.