My Interview With Psalm Muzik
What’s the origin of your stage name? Have you changed your name before?
Like a lot of Christian hip hop artists I’m finding out, I used to do secular music. I went under the moniker Sketchy Waze and was actually beginning to make a decent living from my music. But behind the scenes, I was sacrificing every moral fiber of my being, as well as the well-being of my family. While my music career began to take off, my personal life unraveled. I eventually came to a point where I had to choose one or the other, and I ended up on my knees crying out to God. He answered me in a very powerful way, and I walked away from pursuing music altogether for a couple of years to discover my faith.
During that time, though, I would still write what was at the time poems. Most of these poems were expressions of my spiritual journey and praises to God for what he was doing in my life. Eventually, doors began opening for me to step back into music, but this time in a ministry field. I ended up putting a lot of those poems to instrumentals and that was how my first Christian album was made.
My real name is David, and what and how I wrote was reminiscent of how David composed the psalms in the Old Testament. So Psalm seemed like a fitting name, even though from the perspective of a Google search it probably isn’t the best or most unique title to go by.
Do you have a record label? What’s the benefits/drawbacks of being in your situation.
I am currently just doing my own thing. I have a non-profit indie organization called Ministry Muzik, through which I try to help the community, and spread the gospel in a culturally relevant way. I would say the biggest drawback to not being signed is probably that other artists may not take me as seriously. There are doors that open when you have label backing and representation. The biggest benefit is not having to answer to anybody but God with how I do my music. It allows a lot of creative freedom.
When and why did you start music?
I started making music at the age of 10. I’ve always been absolutely in love with music, the way it can influence your mood and even your decisions. I remember being very young and aspiring to touch people in the same way my favorite artists touched me.
Is your family musical?
My family isn’t very musically driven. My dad plays guitar and my mom plays the ukulele, but I remember being very embarrassed by my passion and dream of one day becoming a musician. It’s not that my parents weren’t supportive, but they definitely didn’t think music would be the most lucrative path for me to pursue. So I spent a lot of time as a child downplaying my interest and kind of disguising my ambition as just a hobby. Even though through most of my childhood I absolutely aspired and hoped that one day I could do music professionally.
Who are your favorite musicians? Groups?
I have a lot of love and respect for so many of the artists making music for God today. Of my favorites, I would say NF is up there. I love God Over Money’s whole roster, H.U.R.T. is really talented as well. Andy Mineo is great. Beyond that, I listen to a lot of indie rock and worship music.
Who are you inspired by?
That one’s easy.. Jesus!
Do you have a creative process?
It really varies. Many times lyrics come to me shortly after prayer. I try to spend quite a bit of time in quiet prayer, and I find that after those times I am often, for whatever reason, pretty creative. Other times I will create or receive an instrumental and it just speaks to me. There really is no formula for how I create. Sometimes I will be laying down trying to sleep, and having to roll over every 10 to 15 minutes to jot down song lyrics that won’t stop coming!
What’s an average day like for you?
I wake up at 5 every morning. I have a wolf dog that requires a lot of energy, so I run with him for about two miles then ride a bike with him for another 5 miles. That typically takes about an hour, and I spend that whole time in prayer. I find that to be a very easy time to give to God and really hear from him. Then I hit the gym, then it’s into the studio until my family wakes up. I usually spend about two hours in my studio each morning. Once my family is up, I’m playing husband and dad for the rest of the day. I have been very blessed by God to own a company that is prospering and pretty much self-sufficient. So I am not bound to punching a clock for a living, which has given me so much opportunity to do the things I love and spend time with the people who are most important to me.
Do you collaborate with others? What is that process?
There isn’t much in the way of CHH in my area. There are a couple of artists who I love to work with around here, but it doesn’t happen often. Something I carried over from my secular music is the desire to collaborate with other artists I respect and admire, though. So I am always hitting people up and asking them if they would be interested in featuring. In this day and age, it is typically all done over the internet, even if we live relatively close to one another. We will just swap instrumentals and vocals online.
Please discuss how you interact with and respond to fans
I try to respond to every single person who reaches out to me. Honestly, that is where I often see the most fruit from my ministry. Being able to talk with people one-one-one has allowed me to truly share the love of God in a personal and intimate way. I have made life-long friends out of many of my fans. I typically have no problem sharing my phone number or meeting up for coffee or lunch if we happen to be in the same area. I could see where if my platform was really big, this may not be a possibility for me, so I am thankful that I am able to do it.
What is your favorite part about this line of work? Your least favorite? Why?
I kind of touched on it in the last question; probably the most rewarding part of what I do is being able to share and see the fruit of the gospel with others. I have been told countless times now that my music was the catalyst that helped to change somebody’s life. That is indescribable as far as the feeling of joy and fulfillment it gives me. Probably the most difficult part is battling with the idea that I myself am not worthy of this position. I am just a human, and I have vices and demons that I struggle against every day. So, even though I know that it’s not true, sometimes I feel unqualified and undeserving of my position. But the grace of God is always enough to remind me that I am called to this.
What advice would you have for someone wanting to make CHH music?
Don’t quit your day job! There are so many talented artists and musicians in this world in every genre, and for me having a stable source of income is truly what has allowed me to pursue this vision. When I did secular music, I was selling drugs to supplement my music’s income. And doing secular music I made much more money than I do now from Christian music. I was touring around the country, working with my idols, and selling thousands of downloads, and it still was not enough to pay all of my bills. Many artists won’t ever even make it to that point. I don’t think it’s wise to start out in music expecting it to be your sole source of income. If that happens, great. But if not, you will end up very discouraged… and broke. So my biggest piece of advice is to make sure you and your family are provided for.
What are your fondest musical memories?
– Probably working with a dear friend of mine when I was very young. We were both knuckleheads and going down a bad path. In fact, he ended up getting shot and killed by the police just recently. I think because he is gone I hold those memories very dear now. I miss him terribly, and I also use those memories as a reminder of how far I have come from who I used to be.
How do you balance your music with other obligations – family, other jobs, etc?
– Again, I try to wake up before anybody else in my family so that I can spend time creating music without feeling like I am neglecting them. I do travel for music, and that can be hard on my family. I am constantly praying that God opens the doors he wants open, and shuts the ones he wants shut in my life.
Where are your favorite venues? Do you have any upcoming shows?
I am part of the Extreme Tour. It is an underground international tour that brings the gospel to inner cities and impoverished neighborhoods. We set up at parks and play shows with giveaways and contests, and get the opportunity to love on people who are otherwise unloved. People who would never step into a church. I have seen incredible fruit from this ministry, and I typically forego any other bookings throughout the year, because I spend almost the entire summer traveling the country with them.
How has your music evolved since you first began playing music?
So much! But I believe the biggest change has been the purpose behind the music. When I first started making Christian music, I did it in the same fashion as I did secular music; focusing on building a buzz up. I sent out music to editorials and blogs and contacted various industry professionals, trying to kick down doors to further my music’s reach. God very quickly showed me that that isn’t His heart for what I’m doing right now though. So I began to prayerfully seek Him and only go through doors I felt He was leading me through. I am no longer obsessed with being the next big thing, but am content to serve where I am at, and thankful for the platform He has given me, just how it is. Ultimately, this has reduced so much stress in my life, as I am not chasing after some tomorrow, but rather submitting to God’s calling in the here and now.
How can fans-to-be gain access to your music? Do you have a website with sample songs or a demo CD?
I try to push people to my YouTube channel first. But I also do videography, so I love making visuals to go with my music. My tag on all my social media is @psalmmuzik, so they can find me that way, and my website is ministrymuzik.com, although sometimes I am not the best at keeping that up-to-date. I try…
Is there anyone you’d like to acknowledge for offering financial or emotional support?
I always have to shout out my mom, who has been there for me since day one… Literally! My wife is such an awesome support to me. My business partners, who have funded several endeavors in my music ministry. Also, a producer I hooked up with about a year ago who has become a dear friend and brother in Christ, Jason Andrews. He is sold out for God, and creates some of the best instrumentals I have had the pleasure of working with. He has worked with Warner and Capital, but walked away because he felt like there was a lot of corruption in the circles he was serving. I greatly admire his commitment to truth.
What projects are you working on now?
I have my hands full! I am slowly but surely mixing and mastering a self-produced project that I recorded over a year ago. It comes from kind of a valley in my life, and as such a lot of the songs are kind of sad and doubtful. I actually really enjoy working on that project, because I can see how far I’ve come just in the time since I recorded it. My faith has been affirmed time and again, through just seeking God in the hard times and doing my best to stay true to where I felt like He was leading.
Also, I am working on a project with Jason. We are in the mixing phase, I think there are 10 songs total on it, and it features some artists that I greatly admire in the Christian hip hop scene: Canton Jones, KJ52, H.U.R.T., Young Noah, Illuminate, Selah the Corner and 1k Phew. I’ve almost got someone from every prominent Christian Hip Hop group on there! I think there’s only like 3 songs that are actually solo efforts on the entire 10-track LP. I am very excited about it, and hoping to put it out sometime in the spring or summer.