We had the good fortune of connecting with Blake Shimoda and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Blake, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
For me, I think the pursuit of an artistic career is a pursuit of being understood. I felt so misunderstood when I was younger by almost all of the people around me and I think those experiences stuck with me. I felt like everyone had their own ideas about who I was and none of them felt like they accurately portrayed the person I believed I was on the inside. Making music allows me to express the vulnerable parts of myself outside of the views of another person; it gives me the opportunity to show the world who I am without any explanation or influence from a third party. Something I hear fairly often from people who reach out to talk to me about my music is that they feel as though a part of them has been seen that they didn’t know needed to be seen. I think art as a cultural force is the best way for people to understand themselves and others, and experiences like that are what I make art for. I think a lot of people want to be understood as they are, and not as someone else understands them, and if I can show the world the parts of me that no one else seems to see then maybe I can help someone else feel understood too.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I think the thing about my music that sets it apart from others is the care I’ve put into creating a unique identity through lyrics and storytelling through the production. It was a long and hard road to get to where I am now, and I spent a long time telling myself I couldn’t be an artist at all. I used to think that I didn’t have anything worth saying, or that no one would care what I had to say. I used to solely produce for other artists because it was more comfortable for me to be working behind the scenes, where the lyrical content of the music and the person it was tied to had some distance from me. I still love producing for other artists and helping their artistic vision come to life, but I’ve found that I have so much passion for self expression that I was suppressing for a long time. Somewhere along the way when I was younger I got it in my head that self expression wasn’t something that was meant for me; that I didn’t have a self that was worth expressing. I think I learned through working with other artists as a producer that self expression has value for everyone, whether it gets shown to other people or not. I think that journey to accept myself comes through in my music, through the way the lyrics and production work together to tell a story. I’m still much more comfortable as a producer than I am as an artist, so I tend to lean heavily on both of those sides to tell a story. I think the end result of that is something that feels vulnerable and encouraging at the same time. I want my art to say to people “Expressing yourself can be hard and scary, but I’m doing it right now anyway and you can do it too.”
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’ve actually just moved here in the last six months, so I could probably use someone to do that for me! I feel like I’ve been so many places and seen so many things and I’ve still barely scratched the surface. I live in Santa Monica now and I love going to the 3rd Street Promenade, so I would probably suggest that.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to give a shoutout to CJ and Ziggi. They’re two people who I’ve never met that found me on the internet when I was first starting out and have been more supportive of what I do than almost anyone else. Of course there are people I know in real life like my friends and family that support me, but it’s different when it’s someone who’s a complete stranger and has absolutely no obligation to care about what you do. They heard my music when almost no one else was listening to it and cared enough about it to stick around and support everything else I’ve done since, and seeing that powerful connection they’ve made to my art has made more of an impact on me than they could ever know. Just knowing that these two people out there in completely different parts of the country from myself and each other who I’ve never met are rooting for me is what keeps me going sometimes when things get rough, so thank you CJ and thank you Ziggi.
James Cudjoe Makkawi Makkawi Aminah Abushahma Gregory Wresilo