• 48°

ARTS AND CULTURE: Zenjuju

Andrew Gillum – percussion, Dave Knipp – percussion, Ian Caldwell – bass,
Sarah Justice – flute, Molly Lynn Page – violin, Shrie Barr – vocals,
Mary Gillum – vocals, Nethan Gillum – guitar

Genre Style: Groove/World Music

Location: Ashland, Kentucky

How did the project start? 
We’re all friends who have collaborated in various ways in the past. I was working on new material based on music as a vehicle for meditation and healing. I was offered a gig and that sparked a quick formation of this group to perform that music and see where it might lead us.

What are three adjectives to describe your style? 
Honest, organic, fun

Walk us through your creative process. Does it vary, if so, how? 
It often varies in the path it takes to reach a final concept, but for the most part it begins with one small spark of an idea. The initial inspiration comes when there is a willingness and an openness in the mind to receive it. Then it becomes about following it where it might lead, letting your ears, fingers and imagination be a guide. Then, when a full band performs that idea, it blossoms and takes on new life.

How has your art evolved since you started?  
For me, my musical development started with a desire to learn how people created music that made me, the listener, feel alive. Sometimes, that meant technique, chord construction and rhythms. I wanted to see how it worked and how I could contribute to that sense of wonder. It filled me with strong ambition to make a life of it.

It’s taken me on a journey learning how different cultures around the world interpret that same sense of wonder through sound and how we all use it to connect ourselves to this world and beyond. So I’d say what has evolved most through the process has been how I approach music, what feels superficial vs. what seems to resonate on a deeper level.

What is your favorite creative tool, and why? 
For music, my ears. While I do love the way a guitar feels in the hands and other various musical instruments offer a visual and textural experience, it all boils down to how those affect the sound and how the ear receives those vibrations. The ear has the, final “say so” in the creative process but finding ways to achieve those ear pleasing sounds is what makes it, at times, daunting and fun.

What about being an artist fills your cup? Why should others take interest in the arts? 
It’s like a good friend who will never leave you and is always full of surprises haha. This experience that we’re all having, when we dream, what’s in our collective consciousness, art is what captures those moments in time and helps store the memory of it. Whether it be film, photo, painting, books, music, it’s the recording and passing of our experience through the mind, body, and spirit. Without it we lose those moments and the feelings they evoke.

Any advice for new or struggling artists?  
Firstly, be honest with yourself about what you want out of it and why you’re doing it. If your reasons are good and pure then it won’t matter as much what anyone else thinks or has to say. Keep in mind that success looks different for everyone. Set goals that inspire you to keep at it. Work hard but have no expectations, rather, enjoy the process because that’s where the majority of the experience will be.

If you get discouraged, try to step outside of the ego and think of yourself as a person documenting your own experience. Do whatever it takes to get out of your own way, be open to the journey, and have fun.

What upcoming project should we look for, and where can we look for it? 
This new band of ours, Zenjuju.

We’re already having a lot fun with it and with all of the separation from Covid it’s nice to feel a musical sense of togetherness again. We’re playing Funktafest in Huntington, West Virginia on Sept. 25 and maybe we’ll get around to recording these songs sometime soon. Follow along with us on our Zenjuju YouTube channel and Instagram @zenjujubear.

What question do you never get asked that you would like to be asked?  How would you answer? 
May I cover one of your songs? And absolutely yes, see what you can make of it.