What exactly is art; who defines it; who makes it, and where in Atlanta do poets, thespians, and artists congregate and create? We’ll use this space to catch up with a few for a few…some you may know; others we hope you’ll be pleased to meet their acquaintance.
My dream side gig is becoming a DJ—I even bought equipment at the onset of COVID-19 to learn and prepare for my new post-pandemic career. The DJ equipment is in my garage collecting dust.
Unlike me, Jasmin Rhia, who grew up in Atlanta and Orlando, FL, has been a real DJ, violinist, music producer, rapper, and entrepreneur for the last ten years. And when she’s not practicing her art, you may find her hanging out skating at the Old Fourth Ward skatepark or performing between Ponce City Market and the activity field. It was a pleasure getting to know more about her.
When did you fall in love with the violin; how did you know it was meant for you?
I was 8 when I fell in love with the violin. I remember watching a Missy Elliot video “Hit Em Wit Da Hee,” they had this epic breakdown in the song where four female violinists played. Then, at 10, a classmate showed me her violin after music class; it was love at first sight! It was the first time I had seen the instrument up close, and later that day, I asked my Mom if I could play. I started the following year and went on through college.
Who is your musical inspiration, and why are they important to you?
I’ve had a few musical inspirations growing up, but the most influential musician was Miri Ben Ari. Seeing her play violin in the “Overnight Celebrity” music video with such style and flavor left an everlasting impression on me. I checked out her other videos on YouTube and was amazed at the crowd’s reaction to her Apollo performance. She covered hip-hop songs with a DJ spinning in the back, and I remember getting so hyped! Seeing someone so elegant and talented not having to rely on her sexuality to sell records was an excellent example for me to witness as a young lady.
I checked out your Afrobeat Mix 2023—it’s such a vibe. Your DJ collaborations with your skills as a violinist are ingenious—how did you become a DJ?
That’s so dope! Thank you! I started DJ’ing in high school after my friend gave me a download of her brother’s Virtual DJ program. At this time, I was making mashups of mostly hip-hop & R&B songs and putting them on mixtapes. I didn’t start pursuing DJ’ing professionally until 10 years later. Before that, I mainly was rapping and producing until I hit a roadblock. I refused to fit into the stereotypical, overly sexualized female artist role. I ended up quitting music for a couple years. It wasn’t until visiting a friend in Hawaii for a healing retreat that I became exposed to a different side of music. I was introduced to the independent scene and realized I could do things my way. When I returned to the mainland, I was inspired to play my violin again. I was inspired to start DJ’ing professionally after attending the Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) festival. I eventually put the two together and created a business around performing cover songs for clients interested in hiring unique entertainment for private events!
You describe your recording label, Artists of Morality (AOM), as “using the power of music to spread peace and empowerment.” Share more about the mission of AOM and what you’d like its impact on art and artistry to be.
Our mission with AOM Records is two-fold. We believe all musicians should strive for ownership when working in the music industry. This way, they are in charge of their art and image and can use their talents to positively impact the community. Since music business knowledge is necessary to achieve this, we provide educational resources for musicians interested in pursuing an independent career. Our label also provides musical workshops and private lessons for the youth in our community. Kids must have something enriching to look forward to. As I witnessed early on the positive effects of expressing myself musically, I must pay this experience forward.
What inspired you to begin the “Know Your Worth: A Musical Mental Health Workshop?” How did the events during the last three years influence you?
I created the workshop in 2017 to empower the youth with tools to help them overcome some of the trials and tribulations they may face. I had hit rock bottom a few years before pursuing music in Los Angeles. After moving back with my family, I went through a healing journey that ultimately brought me back from the darkest period of my life. One of the lessons I learned during this journey was the power of words and how our mindset directly affects our well-being. I also knew the music and entertainment I consumed had a huge impact. This inspired me to design a workshop that made learning mental strength entertaining while teaching the youth music production and songwriting. When I read the statistics on depression and anxiety rising in the community since the pandemic, I was shocked. Seeing that many of us have struggled in some shape or form with our mental health these last few years has made this workshop more relevant than ever.
To learn more about Rhia, check her out at aomrecords.co or Jasminrhia.com or on Instagram @itsjasminrhia.