Meet Jodie Fenix, a Baltimore-based multidisciplinary artist, in the midst of developing his own category-defying sound and aesthetic.
Inspired by the pulse of his city and the often-overlooked qualities of everyday life and media, Jodie is poised and motivated to share his rhythms and visuals with the world. During our conversation, we chopped it up about the making of his upcoming single ‘Roshambo', Baltimore nightlife and the alternative scene that fuels his inspiration.
Craig: I’m excited to get to know you better as an artist and to understand your practice. Could you tell me about where you tend to get inspiration for your work?
Jodie: So with my practice – I really get inspired by films or music videos. And mainly older pieces – like it could be as simple as a Missy Elliot music video or it could be some old French movie, or something directed by Alfred Hitchcock. And I’ll be like, ‘hmm this is making me feel some type of way’, and then I’ll base the sound and atmosphere I create on a track off of those visuals that I have in my head.
If I was in a dark room, the song would probably be melodic and something that people can vibe to when they’re isolated. But if I was out on the highway and it was sunny, I would want to make something hype. So, I associate visuals with music and then I’ll put how I feel from the visuals into music.
C: So, you’re able to gain a lot of inspiration from different mediums and then translate them into something sonic?
J: Oh yeah for sure. But don’t get me wrong – I like keeping up with other music artists too. I like to hear what sounds people are coming out with, local and global. Icce is one of them – he raps with Soduh and East Side Band. Globally, I’m really feeling Rejjie Snow up in the UK – I definitely like watching his visuals and hearing his sound. Little Simz is also dope.
C: It definitely makes sense, since you’re coming from this creative foundation in photography, that the image is pivotal when you create. So, when you’re making music, do you see the video in your head while making the track? Are you creating the whole package at the same time?
J: Yeah definitely. And then I’ll get into a zone and I’ll forget about that visual – but it’s the visual that inspires me at first. So sometimes I’ll be out and about, walking in the park and I’ll be inspired by what’s around me in the park and I’ll make a tempo based on how that park is making me feel. And now that I say it out loud, I don’t know if too many people create that way. So it’s definitely a good feeling.
C: Yeah that’s a good place to be creatively – when you can create from the seemingly mundane and put your unique and particular perspective on it, I feel that.
And I appreciate you letting us listen to your upcoming track ‘Roshambo’ – it’s a banger, we definitely liked it. What was the process for the track? Did the inspiration come from a walk in the park? Cause it felt like it had a different kind of energy.
J: Nah, that one’s more like parking lot pimpin’. That one’s fast paced – more like me being inspired by Saturday night. Like on the highway, making your moves to the pregame. Moving kind of quick cause it’s like 8 o’clock and you got to get to the party around 11. So, I just pictured jumping and dancing. And you’re on the highway again and it’s at night, you’re with your group of friends, guys and girls, and ya’ll bumpin’, just rocking back and forth at a party or on your way to the party – just hype. That’s how I got ‘Roshambo’.
C: A track for the whole process of the night – on the way to the function and for the dance floor, we love that.
J: Heck yeah – it’s funny because I first freestyled the song and then went back and wrote down what I said in the freestyle. It was definitely at night when I recorded that, so it definitely fit the vibes.
C: Is ‘Roshambo’ going to be released as a single or part of a larger project? Is there an EP coming?
J: It’s a single for a project called ‘Don’t Stress’. Yeah it’s gonna be pretty hard. It’s funny cause you know Roshambeau is lingo for “Rock, Paper, Scissors”, so it means take a chance. So when I sing the lyric “Roshambo” its’s like rock, paper, scissors, take a chance with me. And the chance that we take… it’s gonna be cool if you rock with me. Like “one day we gon be in Berlin” – it’s pretty dope. I like to make feel good songs, but I also like to be realistic in a way, cause right now bro, I’m not buying a bunch of Birkin bags. So, I got this other bar that goes, “We gon get to the Birkin, yeah Green Day that is for certain”. We’ll see the day that we have more money to get those Birkin bags, but we’re not stressing, bro. So it’s gonna be a lot more songs like that and I just hope that you and whoever hears appreciates it.
C: Yes bro – we’re excited to hear it. Are there other Baltimore artists on the project or is it solo?
J: Right now, I’m thinking solo dolo for the tracks I have recorded. It’s gonna be no more than 10 songs. But you know I might hit up some friends…
C: Did you work on the production as well?
J: No, Jaxxon Beats did the production.
I feel like I’m on to something with my new sound and I’m glad we’re here talking about it.
C: So how do you approach those kinds of collaborations?
J: It wasn’t nothing too crazy. I was just looking for beats cause at that time I didn’t have any producers that fit what I was trying to do. And I was just like let me go look for some beats on YouTube and that’s how I found bro.
C: With platforms like YouTube and SoundCloud, I feel like we can be inundated with choices – there’s so many sounds and so many people who are putting their stuff out there. It can be hard sometimes to make a decision. So when you hear a beat on YouTube or wherever else, how do you know that this is the person to work with?
J: Bro it was the way the beat started. I liked the structure. It’s slow tempo in the start and creates that tension and then the beat - you rock to it. It’s a nice dance tempo and then it calms back down as he takes some of the drums out and I just felt like it was perfect. It was just what I was trying to go for as a single. And that was the first beat I heard from him and it really hit. You know… you just get that feeling and I started freestyling to it. And I was like this is hard – let me go get this mixed. Then I just laid down a bunch of different adlibs and vocals. And then ended up doing this Wyclef type vibe at the end where I was yelling. And I’m like, “I’m effin’ with this”. I’ve never made a song like ‘Roshambo’. I’ve used autotune before, but I feel like I’m on to something with my new sound and I’m glad we’re here talking about it.
C: You spoke earlier about walking around outside for inspiration. Is that how you spend a lot of your time - strolling through Baltimore, getting inspiration from the community? Does the city have much to do with your creative process?
J: The city has a lot to do with it – but it doesn’t have everything to do with it. At the end of the day, I love nature and I don’t like being isolated. So the city has a lot to do with it cause I’m just out and about. [Baltimore and New York] definitely play a part because I want my music to fit a certain lifestyle.
I want the sound to fit for people who like to pregame, who like to dance, people that like to jump around. People that don’t only like trap – I’ll make a song for them. People who like to dress outside the box. I made this track for them – something different, but not too different.
I’m talking about how I don’t want to fit into a stereotype and to just be outside of the box as a young Black man.
C: Yeah that’s what we like. We like for people to be expansive in their identity – especially as it relates to creativity. When we make categories – what kind of music you like, what you like to dance to, which kind of parties you go to – we diminish the things we have to share.
So, what’s a night out like with you and your friends? What’s the pregame saying – what are ya’ll doing?
J: We meeting up at like 5pm. We’re grabbing some food. And then we probably go to a thrift store or go to the mall. Or we’ll skateboard if it’s one of the homies. So by time we done doing all that… and I’m the type that brings two outfits with me before 9 o’ clock – so we’ll go and put on our second outfits. And we’ll be sipping on some liquor. I used to be a bartender so I be on it with the IPAs and the mixed drinks. So we’ll do a tequila sour or we’ll get some Flying Dogs which is a Maryland brewery – yeah bro, culture.
So we’ll just be sipping on that. I’ve calmed down from the days of poking a hole with my thumb into the bottom of the can and shotgunning beers, beer pong and all that. But yeah we’ll change our outfits, start pregaming, bumping Bones or maybe even some Bash. And then yeah we’ll get in the mood and finally dip out around 11 and we’re smacked at that point. And we just have a good time.
C: That is a good time. And ya’ll skateboarding out there too? Is there a lot of Black folk in Baltimore skating? Is there a comfortable alternative scene for the Black community in the city?
J: Yes definitely. So Hamden is a good area – their skate park is pretty dope. I been going there since I was 11. It’s super smooth there now – people shoot music videos there. It’s a cool place where artists and the skate culture can come together. Music artist, or painter or sculptors – they’ll go up there just to chill. And over by Johns Hopkins University there’s this waxed curb that people skate day and night. It lights up pretty good even late.
I like skating street more though. I’ll have Road Sodas, which is an outdoor beer, and we’ll just go out have our beers and we’ll hit those spots or street skate, just cruising around the city by the harbor.
C: That’s wassup. We love places where different kinds of people can come together. That’s something B.A.S.S. tries to do with our events – we like to bring all different kinds of creatives together and see what kinds of collaborations and ideas come out of it. And we organize through Black and African identity – creating spaces and platforms for our friends outside of these industries. Does your Black identity play into the way you create – do you feel you inject notions of Blackness into your work?
J: Oh yeah for sure. I’m talking about how I don’t want to fit into a stereotype and to just be outside of the box as a young Black man. I’ve got this one song called ‘My Song’ and I called it that because it’s talking about the struggles that I’ve had growing up as a Black man. Working at an early age, coming home to no meals or even just being home with nothing for that day – like it’s real. And just hoping I don’t become another statistic and quicksanding, not really rising – just being a product of your environment and not in a good way. It’s real, I definitely am conscious when I put those words in my lyrics.
I find myself on the borderline of not being able to merge with certain lifestyles or cultures, and I used to be upset that I couldn’t merge with just one type.
C: Do you find yourself creating music for people in your position? Or do you try to create songs that are widely relatable or perhaps nurture empathy for people to understand the experiences you’ve gone through?
J: Bro, I would say that I make music for everyone. But for the most part I think something for a Black man to relate to. Because I would want people to make music for me. Like I feel Kanye West makes music for Black people… for a Black man. College Dropout, I myself am a college dropout. And ‘Heard Em’ Say’ – that was a good song and I feel like it was for Black people,“My aunt Pam can’t put them cigarettes down...”
C: “and my lil’ cousin smokin’ them cigarettes now”
J: Exactly, yo facts.
C: Yeah, that representation is important.
J: Yeah people inspired me and I just gotta keep it going. I don’t need the whole world to listen, but I just love getting through to somebody, and if that person happens to be Black that actually, at the end of the day, warms my heart even more. 'Cause I find myself on the borderline of not being able to merge with certain lifestyles or cultures, and I used to be upset that I couldn’t merge with just one type. But at the same time, I think it’s good to be diverse. It’s good to be open minded. There’s people that only bump Trap Rap and only dress a certain way and then that’s that. And there’s people like me that like skateboards and wear some flooded pants or some rolled up pants and just do it like that. And there’s other people that can do both. I’ll wear a pair of running shoes with some rolled up pants and people will be like “bro, what are you wearing?”, but other people will be like, “oh, that’s hard.” So, I like being able to merge stuff, because when you’re able to adapt that’s actually how you grow, and it leads to greater success. And being open-minded and positive towards people that aren’t like you can also help you grow and allow you to reach other people’s hearts and minds.
C: 1000% I love that. So we know about ‘Roshambo’ coming out and the EP ‘Don’t Stress’ - what are you most excited about for the future? What’s coming up?
J: This music video and some shows I got coming out! The music video – I hit up 2 people, shouts out to ACAB and Bruce. They’re both gonna be riding motorcycles in a parking lot under this bridge in downtown Baltimore at night. And I’m gonna be in the middle of them and just rapping with some friends in the background. Just cool outfits and us just movin’ - a lil’ 2 step, rocking side to side and we’ll have ‘Roshambo’ playing in the background.
C: Yes beautiful man we can't wait to see that!
J: Thanks I appreciate ya’ll support.