Josh Blakk AKA Joshua Owusu Afriyie; a wonderfully talented young musician and instrumentalist with an amazing voice stopped by for a chat and we had some interesting conversation about his journey and love for playing the guitar, piano, and saxophone..
KW: When and why did you start playing?
JB: I was introduced to instruments at a tender age, but I really started playing keyboards when I was 13, because I had wanted to play at church. I started playing guitar in 2012 because of my love for the instrument, the sound and its shape.
KW: Which instruments? And what was the first tune(s) you learned?
JB: I play Keyboards, went on to blow a bit of Sax in secondary School,But I could blow the flute(attenteben), even before I took up the Guitar as my main baby. The first Tune I played on the Keyboard was a Twi song, “Ofata”. the first tunes I played on the flute and Sax was the Hymn Amazing Grace On the Guitar, the first thing I learnt to play was my own song “Till the End”
KW: Which famous musicians do you admire and why? And which of them have you learned from? Were you influenced by old records & tapes? Which ones?
JB: There are so many musicians I admire, because of their stories and the messages they carry in their Music. Some of My favorites Include Asa, Kwame Yeboah, Nicole. C. Mullen, Eminem among others. I learnt a lot from many musicians. It was difficult at first to maintain my main sound, my uniqueness whiles I tried to be like musicians I admired. But when you realize your calling and you know what you are about, it becomes easier to be able to add up and subtract what is needed and what isn’t. I had influence from old Gospel Records and Tapes. The first time I had any other music but gospel to listen to, I was already 15, and it was Eminem’s “I’m sorry Mama”
KW: Who was your first teacher? Other teachers?
JB: Technically, I have never had a teacher, However, I have people that have helped me along the way, people I stole knowledge from, One such person is Freeman Ame. I met him when I was younger and I learnt a lot from him, Vocally. However, No one ever taught me how to play the guitar or any instrument. It just had to make sense to me, anytime I picked an instrument I was interested in. I also didn’t visit YouTube or any other sites when I begun. but when I moved into performing Acoustic covers,I had no option.
KW: What are your fondest musical memories? In your house? In your neighborhood or town?
JB: Fondest Musical memories? Ha!. I am fond of them all, and I appreciate every musical memory my mind can grasp. My inspiration for writing Kokrookoo is one of such memories I am fond of. I was terribly hungry one morning, I had barely eaten the previous day, went to sit outside my house to go over some of my songs, and I was just in the mood, playing somethings at random. astonishingly there was a Rooster that came from the next house and it seemed to be interested in what I was playing, It just kept coming closer, and at every reasonable space it will crow. Eventually it caught my attention because it was literally by my side after some minutes. And so it dawned on me, That no matter what happened during the day, after night falls, The Rooster will do what it is supposed to do to invite the new day. and whenever you hear it crow, You have a bit of Hope. The Rooster has a reason to Live, What is yours, No matter the season, whether Longer days and Shorter Nights, Longer nights or Shorter Days, One sound to bring Hope is the sound Kokrokoo.
KW: Who are your favorite musicians? Groups? CD’s?
JB: Favorite musicians…. lets see. I can mention just a few, because they are a lot, and I listen wide: Asa, Kwame Yeboah, Nicole. C. Mullen, Bobby Mcferin, Bob Marley, Alecia Keys, Kim Burrel, Victor Wooten, Stevie Wonder. Marvin Gauye, The Temptaions, The Five Heartbeat, Nina Simone, Richard Bona, India Arie, Sarkodie, Kendrick Lemar, Eminem, R.Kelly, Wyclef Jean and a whole lot more.
KW: Have you been in competitions? Any prizes?
JB: Yes I have been in competitions. Never won anything though. Ha. I was In voice factory of City Fm, I did Mentor but after I was selected, I didn’t get to the house for reasons unknown to me till now, I did Vodafone Icons mixed Edition, was in the Group Waves and we got to the finals but didn’t win, then I went to Nigeria to do Project Fame. I cannot explain into details, the benefits I gained from each, but It stands out that I have never won any singing competition I entered. It only made me stronger and better.
KW: How do you handle mistakes during a performance?
JB: I don’t think there are mistakes during performance. Music is from your soul, its like an infection. Because you infect everybody with how you feel during your performance. that is why people are able to tell whether it is a love song or a sad song or whatever, it is because of what is coming from within, through music. So there are no mistakes for me, what you might take as a mistake, because “I didn’t do that during rehearsal” might be the only moment that connects you to the audience. “Every Mistake is a New style”
KW: Do you get nervous before a performance or a competition?
JB: I think everybody does, it is how you use it that matters. I use it to sing. when I perform, I am real to the core. What ever feeling I need let out, I do. If I don’t feel nervous or shaky, Then those two emotions or feelings are not needed for the song I am about to perform. when it is needed, it comes.
KW: What advice would you give to beginners who are nervous?
JB: Do not add fear to the nervousness. It is a killer. Feel good about being nervous. There are many exercises that are used to calm musicians down, and kill the nerves, but they don’t succeed all the time. The best way to defend is to attack. So calm down, It is all in your mind. Control the moment, control your thoughts, when the nerves are not needed, they wear off! Totally. practice this until it becomes a part of you. Together with breathing exercises and other nerve controlling exercises, you will have no nerves to make you fear your best friends, Music and the stage.
KW: Do you teach music?
JB: I do teach Music, I have never been to any Music School. I don’t have any legit backing for my claim, But I lend out a musical helping hand to anyone who deems it wise to ask me. Every musician learns everyday, Its a non-ending cycle. I also have a small group of students who learn how to improve their singing and some who also learn how to play instruments
KW: How do you balance your music with other obligations – family life, friends, hobbies, school, job, etc?
JB: Music is my Obligation, My Family, My Friend, My Hobby, My School, My Job, My etc.. It is a full time thing for me. Many have doubts about my decision to leave everything for what I believe, Fortunately for them. I am the one to either suffer or gain from what ever decision I make. I was a 2nd year Economic student at Central University. and that was the last thing I had to drop. I have never regretted, but some people worry and regret for me. “I never send them too oo”. I have other things I do, and other grounds to cover. Of course its not wise to put all my eggs in one basket. So that is why I have more baskets and more Eggs, But this very basket only has music in it .
Thank You Josh Blakk
Some links to his page and songs are as follows: