This week, SKETCH features Nima, an Independent Studio Artist and musician who grabs musical inspiration from just about everywhere.
What’s your art practice?
I’m a musician. I play the guitar, rap, sing, beatbox. Anything that has to do with sound I pretty much do.
I started off writing poems as young as five. I definitely had a fascination with wordplay and rhyming for as long as I can remember. Growing up, my mom would bring home every imaginable musical instrument, and make sure that I would play them. Our home was always filled with the voices of her favorite artists such as Sade, Otis Redding, and Leonard Cohen. Music became second nature to me.
I actually made my first album when I was eight years old after my mom had enrolled me into a kids music summer camp at the Royal Ontario Museum called ROM Unplugged. A group of us kids would trek around the city with our program leader, going to different music hubs, playing in drum circles, learning instruments from all over the world, then go back into the studio to record it. We put together an EP of all the songs and sounds, and I got to draw my own album cover. It was an unreal experience, and it definitely has had an influence on my style as an artist today.
Nima (above and below)
What brought you here to Independent Studio at SKETCH?
I was encouraged to apply for the Independent Studio program at SKETCH by one of my mentors, Asia Clarke. When I first met her, she was working as a Local Economic Opportunities Specialist at the East Scarborough Storefront. Meeting her was actually by complete chance. I drove one of my homies to Storefront one day because he had an appointment with Asia. When she saw me, she invited me in her office, and right off the bat she tried to figure out what she could do to help me. From that day on, I saw her every other week for half a year straight. Not only was she super friendly and helpful, but, more importantly, she was always pushing me and making me accountable to completing my goals. Asia is definitely one of those special individuals you don’t come by often, so I’m very appreciative that the universe conspired for me to meet her. Asia also has a business, Wild Moon Jewelry, so as an artist herself, she was able to relate to me on so many levels.
I’ve been here at SKETCH since last October where I’ve been working on an EP entitled Sunchild, which will hopefully be completed by summer. Being here at SKETCH has been such a key aspect in my journey as an artist. It’s a space where I can really focus on my projects and goals, all to the best of my ability. There is also a plethora of opportunities here at SKETCH, from meeting the most creative and inspiring people on the face of the planet–which includes fellow artists and mentors–to being involved in unique and powerful programs such as Independent Studio.
SKETCH is probably the best example I can think of that is a community initiative that promotes increased well being, and provides the resources it does to so many youth. I really wish there were more places like SKETCH, especially in places like Scarborough. I feel like there are countless youth in our communities who would benefit from the abundance of opportunities that places like SKETCH offer.
Describe your creative process?
It’s crazy! Michael [SKETCH Arts Education Music Specialist] always encourages me to find myself in the creative process. I can honestly get inspiration for a song from anywhere. Whether it’s from an experience I’ve had, a type of mood I’m in, or another song that I’m listening to, I’ll jump on the guitar to try a particular sound that’s in my head. I used to be very frustrated with my own creative process, but now I’ve accepted the fact that some of my songs take a day or two to come together, and others will take weeks or even months. Life gives me the bits and pieces to create.
How has art transformed your life?
It has been more of a revolution in my life than a transformation.
Art has been a very powerful, impactful presence that has completely changed me. When I was younger, I was always looking for outlets, ways to express myself, ways to shed the weight on my shoulders. Music allows me to do that. It is by far the most effective outlet in my life, and the easiest one too. All I need is a paper and a writing utensil, or nowadays just a phone to text my lyrics.
The greatest feeling for me is when I get into the studio, and I record a song. It plays a very therapeutic and peaceful part in my life, and I always get my closure. It’s as if the microphone is connected to the Universe, and anything I write or say is transferred into energy and ultimately released from my mind, body, and soul.
To me, transformation suggests that there’s still an evidence of the things of the past, but art has completely changed the regime of my mind and has brought out my true self.
-By Jonsaba Jabbi, Communications
Photo credits: Ana Escorcia and Victoria Bacnis