Based On A True Journey: Diijai
Diijai has been using and perfecting his vocal skills since the age of 2. Always ambitious and eager to share his gift with the world, it is no wonder he has amassed a fan base and following as lucrative as the one he has today. Born to inspirational parents in Athens, Georgia, Diijai has a firm background and belief in self-worth. Through his music, in which he writes himself, one can easily asses that he has been through every believable emotion. DiiJai gained musical momentum by hosting a number of radio shows for a bundle of different radio stations including WBKZ 880 AM and WXAG 1470 AM, both located in Athens. Throughout his tenure he began to grasp influences from all genres of music, but has always held high regards for the music of artist such as “The Voice” Whitney Houston and musical icons Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Mary J. Blige, Erykah Badu, and James Brown to name a few. Listening to passionate bellows from his songs such as “Stay” and the power of “Can’t Get Over It (Depression)”, it is easy to hear his influence by the greats of this artistry known as music.
With a resume that stretches from the local stages of Athens to Las Vegas, this is one artist whom not only embodies passion and drive, but truly has a story to be told through the gift of song. DiiJai has graced the Democratic National Convention and University of Georgia Basketball court to deliver his gift of song to the world.
Diijai’s previous efforts have achieved viral success, having been featured on blog sites throughout the U.S. With past EPs such as Testimony and Rehab: The EP, the world is entangled in his prolific writing abilities and authentic versatile sound and style. Diijai lives by his own words “There is a yes around the corner from every no”. He recently completed production on his new project C.O.L.O.R.S. and hopes to embark on a close circuit tour. DiiJai is the dream artist, who uses the situations around him and that are personal to his heart, to draw inspiration from. His main goal is to be the voice of the voice-less, to heal through the gift of song, to be a beacon of hope for the tried and to show that it is not a mistake he’s still here fighting, but that it is a part of the greater plan to heal the broken-hearted. AWP was able to catch up with the rising star regarding his career…
AWP: I noticed you began singing at the early age of 2, which is crazy! How did that come about and why specially at the age of 2?
Diijai: It’s quite interesting how I discovered I was able to sing. It was my second birthday party and my Grandmother taught me the song “I Know I’ve Been Changed” and made me sing it in front of everyone. I’ve been singing ever since.
AWP: In what ways did your parents foster your growth and interest in music? Was it something you felt you were forced into or did it manifest organically?
Diijai: Well my Mother not only plays piano and organ, but she also plays flute, violin, and she sings as well. My Father sings, but also plays piano, saxophone and trumpet. In some form of fashion, I was going to be influenced by music. Watching them direct choirs and structure harmonies made me want to get more involved in music. In addition to singing, I used to play violin and trumpet, so I ended up with the best of both worlds. Music wasn’t something that I was forced into. It was more of something that wasn’t intended to be a passion.
AWP: Down south in Athens, Georgia, how does the music culture differentiate from other regions of the country and how has that contributed to the style of music you create?
Diijai: The music culture in Athens is predominantly Rock and Hip-Hop, so it’s kind of hard for artists of other genres to really stand out. Being from Athens, it is a great place for the independent artist, however, my style of music isn’t necessarily influenced by the Athens music scene. My sound is more so influenced by Country, Techno, and Soulful R&B.
AWP: Please, break down the process of exercising your creative genius when you write a song, come up with a concept, album, or video. What steps or rituals do you follow to form your craft?
Diijai: When it comes to writing songs, I usually write about what I’m going through at the time. Every thing for me is a song. Every thing from my current relationship, good, bad, and ugly, to issues on my job. I tend to do my best work in my living room on rainy days with the lights out. When it comes to crafting projects, I just go with the flow. The title, track-list, etc. usually doesn’t come together until the very end of the process. From there, I create video concepts, which usually stem from real life scenarios.
AWP: How have music icons such as Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder, Mary J. Blige, Erykah Badu, and James Brown inspired you with their music? How do you maintain your own style, even though you admire their work so much?
Diijai: Their authenticity, artistry, transparency, longevity, and honesty in their lifestyle and music. Those components, along with drive, dedication, hard work, and perseverance are, in my opinion, what it takes to make a great artist and I must say I definitely model my journey after theirs. For me, it’s easy to maintain my style, even though I admire their work. My Mother told me as a child “In all things remember who and what you are.” That one saying has carried over, not only into my private and professional life, but into my artistry as well.
AWP: If you had to name one song you love the most from the artists I mentioned in the previous question, which would it be and why?
Diijai: If I had to name one song that I love the most, it would be “Step By Step” by Whitney Houston. That is the song I play in the mornings after I pray and it is the song I sing regularly throughout my day. It’s so empowering and helps me to keep and stay in a positive frame of mind, especially when life gets crazy.
AWP: Ok, imagine if you were not a musician, artist, or anything related to music, what would be your bail out profession or something else you love doing? Why?
Diijai: A lot of people don’t know that I did radio for 6 years, so to answer your question, if I weren’t a musician, I’d be a radio personality.
AWP: Why do you make your music? What is your driving purpose that keeps you going and how do you keep refueling that drive when you sometimes have those “rhythm-less” music days?
Diijai: I make music for my health, sanity, and personal healing. In addition and more importantly, I make music for everyday people. There are so many tainted people and broken hearts in this world. All most people need is a hug and that one song to carry them through whatever their struggle is. That is my drive. That is the one thing that keeps me inspired and motivated on those days when I don’t feel like writing a single word.
AWP: What is your greatest success musically? Also, what goals have you conquered that don’t necessarily relate to your music career, but have helped you with your approaches to life and music?
Diijai: My greatest success musically is doing what I love, and that is touching lives. I know I don’t act right. I have a few screws loose upstairs and I don’t always communicate effectively. I can be brash and do things to hurt other people, but whenever I open my mouth to sing, I’m doing it to touch and in certain cases, save a life. One of my personal goals that I’ve met recently is being receptive to love. For a long time I was closed to it because whenever someone said “I love you”, it usually came with some form of pain. Where I am now, I’m open to receive it, as well as give it.
AWP: Can you leave us with a wave of inspiration for anyone already in the music field or considering music as a profession?
Diijai: The best piece of advice I can give is to make sure music is something you REALLY want to do. Nowadays, anybody can be an artist, so you have to make sure you’re ready to endure the pain, rejection, sacrifice, and struggle that comes along with trying to stand out and be heard. I would also say to make sure that you have your ducks in a row when trying to pursue it because there is always someone better trying to take your spot. Lastly, I would say keep God first, keep your family and TRUE friends close, make sure you have a strong support system, don’t take no for an answer, and GO HARD.
The projects I’m currently working on include an EP that I’ll be releasing in a few months titled C.O.L.O.R.S (Compositions Of Love & Other Real Situations). In addition, I’m working on the follow-up, as well as just staying busy with performances.