Alima Jennings is a Los Angeles based artist who runs record label Akashik Records. She also explores through personal photography, VHS video art, collage, and screen prints. She discusses with BGM her journey in music, creating an online radio show, and advice to other women of color aiming to explore the music industry.
For a reader new to your work what is Akashik Records?
Akashik Records is a label run by myself and Ringgo aka Mndsgn. We specialize in limited physical releases and aim to provide a platform to POC artists to get their vision translated to the world exactly how they imagined it to be. Meaning we work with artists but essentially the vision for a project is completely their own. Complete artistic freedom is something that is generally not granted within mainstream music labels. In a time where it has become a lot more common for artists to self release, we look at our label as a way to help those artists with art, videos, mixing & mastering, PR and all of the little details that go in to every release. Everything is done in house which helps consolidate a lot of jobs that end up draining budgets. I do videos and art, most of the time on my own and sometimes with a small crew, and Ringgo does most of the producing and mixing. Both of us starting our own label together just made a lot of sense. The name itself comes from the real Akashic Records, which is an ethereal place along the astral plane where all of knowledge, history, and experience is kept. Every soul has it's own Akashic record and it is said that every day with every action or thought we are accessing the Akashic records. It made sense in context with our label because all of the music & visuals we release references older eras in music.
What inspired the beginning of your musical journey?
My background has always been rooted in music. In her early twenties, my mother started her own production company in the 1980's NYC and directed a lot of the R&B and Hip Hop videos I still watch and listen to today. My father grew up in Hollis, Queens and came up with a lot of artists that I also listen to. He worked at Def Jam for a few years, and also started his own label, although short lived, music was our entire life. After moving to LA when I was young, a lot of kids I went to school with were not into the same east coast sound I was raised on. It was hard to relate to anyone on a deeper level, until I started venturing out on my own and frequenting clubs like Low End Theory in my Junior year of high school. Becoming deeply involved in LA's underground music scene at a young age led me to create long lasting friendships with other artists & musicians and finding my tribe. A lot of the art I made was inspired by music, so I started making album art and soon after started DJing.
What led you two to creating an online radio show on NTS station?
My best friend Sofie introduced me to Femi, the founder of NTS a few years ago when I was visiting her in London. Earlier this year NTS reached out to work with us on a tape series they were working on, but then shifted their focus to opening an LA studio for their LDN based online radio station. They reached out to us about starting out own monthly radio show which just started last month. I am happy to be able to share the sounds that inspires so much of my work. Ringgo and I listen to a lot of the same music so the show is very cohesive, but he keeps me on my toes.
What is some advice you would give to other WOC eager to create in the music industry, but aren't sure where to start?
My advice to other WOC, in any field really, would be to not wait for anyone else and just start doing your own thing if you have a vision. And don't be scared to put yourself out there. You are a powerful being capable of anything despite what society tries to tell us. I started throwing shows without knowing much about curating anything but it got my hands dirty and I learned a lot. From there I started developing my own relationships and creating jobs for myself, so it wasn't long until others saw my work and what i was doing and offered me jobs. When you're doing your own thing, people will notice. Just continue to be a vessel of light.