Editor’s Note: It’s always fantastic getting to know new artists from all across the board in virtually any genre of music that we can think of. On Madness To Creation, Christian Rock artist Jodi Essex talks to us about her release of today’s lyric video for “What Is Your Truth”, standing bold for Jesus Christ and mental health awareness. Out of Northern California, Jodi has been featured on various publications such as CCM, Jesus Freak Hideout, The Christian Beat and 100% Rock Magazine. Jodi has had a busy 2020 as she has released music videos for “Irreverent”, “Stand Up”, “Symphony” and “Fighter” and as of today, she has released the music video for “What Is Your Truth”. Fans can find Jodi Essex at the following locations:
Madness To Creation: On May 29th, you’re releasing your single “What Is Your Truth”, take us into that single and the writing process of a Jodi Essex song?
Jodi: Yes! I’m really looking forward to the release of WIYT. It has a really intense, but controlled feel to it, if that makes any sense. I don’t go into coloring outside the lines in a raucous manner with this song, say like “Fighter” or “Irreverent.” It has a beautiful guitar line heading into the chorus, which makes it really melodic; the verses share the steady rhythm of what feels like a seesaw to me or even the ebb & flow of small waves extending their way up a shore in a continuous pattern, then falling back into the sea. The lyrics here have a very significant message, so I felt the need for an engaging melody that curiously beckons the listener.
I wrote WIYT as a question-answer exploration of embracing human frailty within ourselves and others. The lyrics are rooted in a search for the real truth and the “why?” behind the difficulty of living authentically every day. Truth is defined by a source as “sincerity in action, character, and utterance.” That’s only part of it, an Earthly responsibility that belongs to us as the human race, as we choose how to govern ourselves. It’s also defined as, “the body of real things, events, facts, and statements,” to which I will reference John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” As Christians, Jesus is truth and the Word; this is the foundation upon which we live our lives. Without Him at the center, we leave endless opportunities for other doctrine, principles and beliefs to take up that space in our minds and hearts. “What Is Your Truth?” starts out with an issue of accountability and someone who lives the narrative that nothing is ever their fault. They consistently displace blame onto others. While we’ve all had moments in our lives where we found it difficult to accept responsibility in something, we knew deep down there was an alternate truth to bear. The song also depicts a person with “chameleon” tendencies; someone who spends most of their energy putting on different faces for different people, all in the name of placating and pleasing others, whether or not what they speak is the truth. The damaging result of not being true to oneself, is a behavioral cycle that starts to feel “like feeding you freedom” as I write in the chorus. Which by that, I mean when placing blame we should be owning up to, we’re creating relief (“freedom”) in ourselves of any guilt we may have, which also falsely preserves our sense of self-esteem by avoiding awareness of our own flaws or failings. That’s not true freedom. As I continue in the chorus, “the curse of your blame feels like bondage forever,” because the truth is as Jesus says in John 8:32, “Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Living and being stuck in a type of emotional bondage from a life lacking real truth can feel like a curse.
In both of the character examples in the song, honesty rarely exists, they don’t yet know what freedom feels like or the value of living a life of complete and pure truth. Whether it’s mending a struggle with self-love or turning inward to introspectively find a pattern or incident in their past keeping them in emotional bondage, “What Is Your Truth” is intended to bring light into their dark, and with a little tough love, set them on a path to emotional freedom by standing firm in truth.
As far as my writing process goes, it varies. Sometimes I write from an autobiographical perspective where I‘m dissecting my own life experience and lessons I’ve learned, or from observation and study of others and their actions/behaviors. No matter what the subject matter is of my songs, it always comes back to life experience – if even a message to listeners, the message still comes from something I have experienced in my journey. When actually putting a song together, it can happen a myriad of ways as well. Sometimes it’s a lyrical idea, maybe a sentence, or an entire structure for a song; sometimes it’s a melody that floats into my head. There are times where I am just milling about in my day and realize I keep humming certain notes. Those notes soon turn into bars of a song that somehow had been taking shape somewhere in my subconscious. Then of course, there are your studio days where you may be in a songwriting session with others, exchanging basic ideas and you work at all the twists and turns of them until something really starts to take shape. Or not…hahaha! That happens too! You end up just scrapping an entire day of ideas and back to the drawing board you go!
Check out the lyric video here.
Madness To Creation: June 26th you’re releasing your full-album, “Irreverent”, through this pandemic, how are you adjusting the promotion of this album release?
Jodi: Great question! I’ve been asked this often over the past few months – by press platforms, other musicians and fans. You know, when this all started to happen back in March, I had a roundtable discussion with my team and the topics revolved around your same question. “How should we adjust the promotion of your singles? Should we pause all your releases? Should we look at releasing the album at a later date?” Right at that time, I was about to release my third single and one of the only ballads on my rock album called “Symphony,” which is a beautiful, soulful song with a really diverse, live string arrangement that can be described as peacefully melodic and centering. I started to see and feel how it could be perfect for the direction our country and world were headed, with the pandemic in tow. It would be a comfort to listen to, a respite for the listener’s minds, even encouraging in an anxiety-ridden time-space. I was truly feeling led to keep releasing my music. So, right there, in the midst of our discussions, anchored in my strange and calm peace about staying the path and moving forward exactly as planned, I announced that we’d stay in the game – full bore, all the way through the full-album release. No changes. That being said, “The show (Irreverent) must go on!” And it will!
Madness To Creation: How have you adjusted your social media presence?
Jodi: My social media presence and strategy didn’t change all that much. However, I made it a priority to be hyper-aware and sensitive to how people, from all walks of life, were being affected by the pandemic and made sure all my posts and interactions with people were transparent in the way of empathy for them. I heard and read some heartbreaking stories and I just made sure to be available for people and make time to really “hear” them and what they were going through.
Madness To Creation: We cover mental health awareness on Madness To Creation, what are some challenges and personal growth that you have seen from yourself as an artist and as a person?
Jodi: I think one of the most important things that artists need to bring to the table is relentless belief in their project. No one will ever love or care about a project more than its owner/creator – no one. But sometimes, no matter how much we love and believe in our purpose, it can be challenging to maintain that level of die-hard tenacity needed to reach whatever goals you have set for yourself. The resilience and will power demanded to survive the music business can sometimes erode the motivation you originally began with. As an artist, you literally need to insulate yourself from the rest of the world. Sure, have a semi-permeable layer that allows a flow of support, sound advice, and positive things that will keep you encouraged and educated, but you have to learn to shut out the rest of the noise. This includes the naysayers, the negative self-talk that can sabotage your entire stream of optimism. I am no exception here, constantly working to maintain steadfastness in my abilities, focus, and belief to overcome any self-doubt that gets the best of me sometimes.
I used to be an expert at negative self-talk. That was derived from the expectations I had of myself; having perfectionist-like qualities when it came to my art and being too focused on results-oriented outcomes would just kill the joy in any process for me. At times, I would self-sabotage and try to talk myself out of completing something or staying the path because I was convinced that things just weren’t going to turn out the way I expected, which meant “failure” to me. But that’s no way to live. That behavior just reinforces more negativity all the way around. It breeds more self-doubt. The sooner you get used to the fact that there will be failures, and the sooner you realize that failures can be such an invaluable lesson tool in navigating your journey, the more successful you will become not only in your artistic endeavors, but in every area of your life! Start with the small step of accepting that we need to be kinder to ourselves. We truly start to become what and how we think and that’s why positive self-talk is so vital and essential to everything in life.
Madness To Creation: What helps you get through the tough times and what puts a smile on Jodi’s face?
Jodi: That’s an easy answer! First and foremost, my faith in God is the only true and constant thing that gets me through tough times. I don’t ever doubt that His presence in my life has carried me through every single period of stormy weather before me – from slaying cancer, to traversing rocky relationships, tough moments with family, and beyond. He is my rock, then & now.
What puts a smile on my face?!? So many things! But a few in general, are music (of course!), my husband, dogs, cooking, and watching others succeed. I’m especially a big supporter of the “underdog” stories. It is amazing to me to watch how someone overcomes major adversity (and of course, there are many types), but with little to no support, still carries on – through blood, sweat, and tears, head held high, torch in hand all the way to the finish line. THAT is inspiring to me!
Madness To Creation: What’s the first thing that you want to do when this is all over?
Jodi: Haha! That’s an easy one for me! I’m a total foodie, so It will probably consist of simply going out to eat! Actually go in and sit down at a favorite restaurant….after all, life is all about food (wink).
Madness To Creation: Who is your biggest inspiration in your life?
Jodi: Tough question here, as there are many! I am most inspired by people I admire for their selfless acts of kindness, humbleness, and generosity. And, generosity comes in many forms, not just financial. People who give of their time, empathy, compassion; the ones who truly get in the trenches, whereby their actions alone are enough to launch a thousand start-ups, or heal a starving nation. Those people inspire. I post Motivational Monday quotes on my Instagram account every single week. It literally is one of my favorite things to do! One of the more recent posts reads, “Focus more on impacting and less on impressing.” Long story short, these types of people are purposeful and mind-opening as they work to impact others. One thing I’ve learned from people who have the ability to impact, is that they’ve had far from perfect lives. They use everything they’ve endured – impossible challenges, hardships, losses, hopelessness and have figured out the lessons to be learned from all of it. They’ve turned the tables on the seemingly impossible and they do what others say can’t be done. So inspiring! Long story longer…haha! Remember that we all have value. Be aware that someone out there is sharing in similar struggles just like you. Just like me. Your life story and how you’ve overcome obstacles in your life is a lifeline for someone. It may be a handbook for others. You have something that others may need, don’t discount that. You are impactful without even realizing it. You can inspire by sharing your story. Own all you are and everywhere you’ve been. Your ability to triumph is another’s inspiration to do the same.
Madness To Creation: What is one song or album that you go to to help you get through?
Jodi: Well, in this day and age, I think it would be safe to add “playlist” to the list of choices, right?!!? It also changes for me, in terms of favorites or what might be working for me at any given time. But currently, I’d have to say any of my playlists with super-awesome, driving, and motivational ROCK. Especially during my workouts. I almost don’t want to hear my thoughts and like to spend time out of my head, so I TURN UP!
Madness To Creation: The floor is yours to cover anything that we haven’t covered and where we can find Jodi Essex?
Jodi: Thank you very much and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to share my thoughts in this interview! I truly loved answering all of your questions, as it gets me thinking and reminds me to continue “walking the talk” myself. Practice what you preach, as they say! I think you have a great platform here and I’m so glad that MTC exists! Yes! As for my music, here are the various channels that folks can plug into if they so choose:
Of course, my music can be found on all the usual streaming platforms as well, including Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, and Pandora.
Thank you again & ROCK ON!
And there you have it! Check out Jodi Essex via Spotify below and stream her music today!