From the Dirty South of the ATL to the fields of Kentucky and Nebraska to places as far away as South Africa, rapper and musician Proxy has been many places sharing his music and his service. Throughout his travels, though, Proxy says he became the man he felt he was supposed to be right here in Colorful Colorado.
And while the MC sees no boundaries placed upon the things he does and the music he makes, Proxy understands the need for foundation. We caught up with this servant of God last week on the eve of his appearance at this past weekend's Heaven Fest, one of the largest festivals of its kind, where he played for the third straight year, and found out more about his involvement in that celebration of faith and what helped shape him as a musician.
Westword (D. Williams): How did you get involved in Heaven Fest and what does this festival mean to you?
Proxy: I'm good friends with the organizers of this event. And since I've been doing music for like eighteen years of my life, here and in Cali., they asked me to get involved. They know what I'm about, where my hearts at, so that was pivotal to what they're trying to accomplish.
The event itself is really cool. It's about revival; service. The organizers had this vision in mind to spark a change in the lives of those who attend. So, the whole point is to meet and hear all these bands that you like and enjoy, but to also meet God and share your love of him with others; to then take that passion back to where the individuals come from and share it and help it to grow.
This event raises a lot of money, too, and they give most of it away. They help out orphanages locally, nationally and even internationally. And this year, they are sponsoring an organization that was founded to help women and children out of sex trafficking. That's why I'm involved. It's not just something to talk about and want to make change, but they are actually giving back.
Ww: How did you get started making the music that you make?
P: I've made mistakes in my life, for sure. And I've learned from them. I've been given third, fourth, fifth chances, and because of my experiences, I feel that I have a responsibility to make better music -- not just empty music, but music with substance. I say this because I signed a label deal.
I noticed just how empty music could be if I wasn't connected in some way to the people that I made the music for. I wanted to see a marriage of good music, service, and vigilance. So I started a company called Group Vigilant. It's a services music company, which means that our first responsibility -- no matter what faith you come from, what social background, what history -- is to make substantial music that speaks to the people.
We have a process that we use to create our music, called Life Music: How we write is to start from a place of reality for oneself or someone dear and use a specific situation that paints a vivid picture of an experience. This leads to an answer. The idea is to not just complain, but to find a positive outlook and resolution.
Life music provides lessons, highlights mistakes and service. And it's called this because: 1), It is true to life 2), it affirms life and 3), It lives forever. We don't want to make trendy music that speaks for the moment, but music that speaks forever to generations.
Ww: Who or what are some of your biggest influences?
P: My first and greatest inspiration is Jesus Christ and God. They speak to me, for me and through me. Then it would have to be family. My family have shown me a grace throughout my years and supported me in every way. In my process of growing as a man, and also in using this gift I've been given.
My music. And presently, I'd have to say the incarcerated youth I work with. They teach me every day. They help keep me humble, grounded and focused. Yes. I would have to say those are the three biggest influences on my life and music.
Artistically, I take and pick from everybody...even artists I don't like. But I don't know of anyone else who is making socially aware music in the way that we do that I can say really inspires or influences what I do.
Ww: You have the album, Proximus, that has been stirring change for awhile now. When can those people affected by your music expect a new CD?
P: First of all, every album I make is going to start from a place of service. That album is available everywhere you can get music online. It is also available at the website: Proxymc.com, and you can get it from Twist & Shout, The Word Bookstore, and Independent Records.
As for the new record, the new date is tentatively summer of 2011. It's going to be titled The Magnificent, and it's going to be a really challenging and interesting record. It's based on three story lines that celebrate magnificence. The first one will deal with the magnificence of The Creator. The second one with magnificence in the face of tragedy -- this was inspired by the young people I've been servicing. And the third part is magnificence musically.
It's still going to be hip-hop, but I want to take and build on components from various aspects of music, from jazz, rock, etc. and not just cross genres, but cross time periods, as well. You'll be able to hear some Motown Sound influences and others, too.
Ww: It sounds like things are going well for you?
P: I'm not complaining. I have a lot to be thankful for. Where I'm at and what I'm doing...I wouldn't trade it for anything.