Artist Bio: JMMJ is a musical duo out of West Des Moines, Iowa: two Midwesterners that write and produce their own unique sound. JMMJ put out their first self-titled, self-released album in 2016.
They have always been focused on creating clean music with a positive message, but their new album shifts the focus to emphasize themes of faith and love. They flip the script to promote the message of “loving your neighbor” in a genre of music that is often to the contrary.
They combine hip/hop and electronic sounds, creating indelible rhythms. Spreading joy and positivity through music is their goal and passion. The new album is set to be released in February, titled “Two Part.”
JMMJ produce everything themselves, with the help of their sound engineer, Jon Locker, at Sonic Factory Studios in Des Moines.
1. What inspired you to be a part of the music industry?
When we were younger, we were sitting in Joel’s parent’s basement recording directly into a laptop speaker using garage band to make simple beats. We soon realized this was more than just a simple hobby.
We couldn’t get enough of it, and we wanted to do more. In addition, we also realized that there was serious lack of positive, uplifting music inspired by faith in the hip hop genre. As two guys who take their faith very seriously, we knew that music could be an incredible outlet to reach people and change lives.
2. Tell me about the making of your latest project? What was the inspiration behind it?
The title of our newest album, Two Part, is derived from the dual nature of any relationship that a person engages in, earthly or heavenly. Coupled with the fact it’s our second album made it the perfect title.
The album flows from beginning to end as one cohesive piece of art that take the listener through seasons of emotion and thought processes. It explores the issue of questioning faith itself, inspires others to live a life of compassion, overcomes dwelling on pain and insecurity, and ultimately reveals a path that leads to true happiness through love.
3. What was the process behind making the project?
Joel begins by creating sounds that match the mood or style of song that we wish to convey. Matt takes the music and layers the lyrics that portray the emotion and deeper meaning behind the song.
Once the music and lyrics are laid out, JMMJ come together to polish each song into a final product. Each song is derived from true experiences and thoughts that live and breathe in our minds.
4. What are your thoughts on the Hip Hop industry at the moment?
The Hip-Hop industry is in one of the most dynamic positions in the history of the genre, and among all genres. There is an unbelievable reach and popularity that allows hip hop music to essentially transcend its own genre.
This gives artists like us the unique ability to reach a large audience and improve people’s lives with messages of hope. JMMJ wants to fill a gap in the industry; we believe there is a lack of uplifting hip-hop music that stems from a positive message of love. Our music is for all ages, which is not indicative of the vast majority of hip-hop music today.
5. Do you enjoy grinding it out independently or would you prefer to be signed to a major label?
We enjoy the flexibility and freedom associated with the individual grind. However, we recognize the influential power that major labels can provide by pushing music out to a larger audience.
If we are able to control our own message and content of songs, we would like to be able to partner with a label to maximize our potential. One example that inspires us is Lecrae signing with Columbia Records, while keeping his Christian message intact in the rap genre.
6. What do you think goes into building a loyal fan base?
Maintaining a focus on “service” is critical to building a fan base. We want to give back to our fans, and constantly keep our fingers on the pulse of the people who follow our music and our journey. Serving the fan base includes staying true to the message that brought them to your team in the first place, while working to push the envelope in terms of quality and quantity.
Consistent recognition of fans and engagement with those who are willing to give their time, money, devotion, and personal insights is key to building and maintaining a loyal fan base. As we begin to make our presence known, we want to follow these basic tenants as our fans grow beyond our current community.
7. What sort of online promo/marketing are you doing to reach your fan base?
We are just getting started in the online marketing and promotion realm. We just invested in a few different promotional companies to help get us off the ground.
Our strategic plan is to coordinate marketing efforts with these companies to engage fans across social media platforms. In addition, we are in the process of preparing for live performances in our local community to make that personal connection and begin expanding our experience as artists.
8. As an Indie artist, how do you brand yourself and your music to stand out from the rest of the artists out there?
We brand our music as positive, honest, faith-based music that uses traditional hip-hop sounds as inspiration for the musical component. We ensure our music is clean and appropriate for the youngest of fans, while still touching on the deeper issues that are relevant to people of all ages.
Our biggest brand difference is combining messages of faith with musical sounds that typically don’t accompany Christian music. Our ultimate goal is to positively impact people’s lives through our music.
9. How do you currently make a living as an independent hip-hop artist? What sort of income streams do you have?
Joel works as a financial consultant and Matt works in hospital administration to make ends meet while we hone our musical craft.
We are currently investing a large percentage of our income to elevate our music to a new level. As of now, we cannot financially support ourselves through music alone. However, that is the ultimate goal.