Eternia: The Messengers Podcast Interview
Rapper and MC, Eternia, has recently created a podcast that features stories from hip-hop artists about their creative process and her own spiritual ambitions. We had a conversation about the “artistic flow,” the importance of community and the power of testimony.
LIM: What does it mean for an artist to be a conduit to let the “truth to flow through you”?
Eternia: Well the beautiful thing about “The Messengers” audio piece is that it IS hard to define what it means, and the best way I thought I could was by getting artists to describe the phenomenon for themselves. Ya know? It’s one of those intangible phenomena you just can’t quite put your finger on or recreate if you tried. Truly a gift from God, really, I think! But some of the themes I think the artists Shad, Mr. Lif and Sadia touched on are just this feeling being sparked, being in a flow, and not overthinking or thinking at all. Just being and being in the position to create when it hits.
LIM: The interviews you conducted focus on the artist’s immersion in their craft, and how excellence pours out of it. What does it look like to be so immersed?
Eternia: It looks like a nutty scientist trapped away in their lab, mixing concoctions and flipping through old texts and staring into a microscope for hours (laughs). It looks like an author in a wood cabin who doesn’t come out to see civilization while they write draft after draft. It looks like not hearing people when they speak to you because you’re so focused. It looks like eight hours feeling like eight minutes. It’s a state of being that is definitely…wholly immersive.
LIM: What is the role of craft development for young artists who seek tohonourGod with their work?
Eternia: I personally think artists, and especially young Christian artists, can really overthink everything they do, to the point of paralysis. They want to honour God and know that the “power of life and death is in the tongue” but because of that they can sometimes be frozen or stiff artistically instead of operating from a place of freedom and joy. I think we put way too much emphasis on the weight of our works, and not enough emphasis on trusting God is with us in failures and detours as well as successes. He does the heavy lifting, our greatest call is to abide in Him, for without Him we can do nothing. I think artists can and should make it a practice to hang out with God and seek Him, especially with others who are spiritually more mature, and then when it’s time to create to do so from a place of freedom. Trusting that God is in that too (once we’ve laid the foundation of connecting with Him), instead of the constant weight of worrying whatever we’re creating may not be “good” enough or whatever “fill-in-the-blank” enough. We take ourselves far too seriously. More Him, less us.
LIM: What kind of opportunities do you get to roll with other artists and rappers? What has that shown you about being an artist and a witness?
Eternia: After twenty plus years in the rap game, I guess a lot of my chosen family—my social circle—are artists and creators. It’s something I likely take for granted. They are my mentors, mentees, neighbours, friends, family and colleagues so I guess I have a lot of opportunities to connect with fellow artists on a deep level. What they’ve shown me about being an artist is as varied as the people I know…everyone teaches me something and I admire everyone for unique reasons! One thing I’ve learned from those artists with integrity in my circle is that inauthenticity can be sniffed out a mile away. The church can be really bad at this, which is why a lot of artistic types may feel uncomfortable in some churches… or maybe that’s just me? (Laughs). I think if we approach music-making any way other than unadulterated vulnerability and authenticity, after a while it will feel like a prison with bars of our own design.
In terms of what they’ve shown me about being witness: I think testimony is our most powerful witness, and I believe it’s as simple as our own story of our personal experiences of what God has done in our lives. We get to choose how we convey that story, but I do think we should! I’m always mindful of my audience, and I believe the only thing I’m an expert in—and therefore can speak boldly about—is my own personal experience with God. So that’s something I have no problem sharing. But I won’t try to evangelize in the traditional sense. We are each called uniquely, with our own giftings. Sharing my story and giving other people a forum to share theirs, is mine.
LIM: How have you developed your skill set so that creating now comes easily and naturally to you?
Eternia: I think I was in hip-hop bootcamp for most of my life, without knowing it! (Laughs). So that means just being surrounded with people doing music since I was young. I also am and always have been an avid reader, writer and communicator. Ideas inspire me…conversations with people…critical thinking…oftentimes my lyrics are me processing an experience or an idea. I’m not sure if I’m answering your question clearly but I’ll say for a good portion of my life I was making music or working towards musical goals every day, actively, and around others who were doing the same. I mean since I was 15-years-old, if not earlier. So for me personally, the training and development of skillsets occurred organically.
LIM: Is it possible to make good and true art without it being based in personal experience?
Eternia: Good question. I want to say yes, although my art is highly based on personal experience. I think some people feel other people’s stories deeply, and can use that feeling of empathy or deep connection to others to inspire their art. Some people don’t use personal experience at all in their art, they’re inspired by visceral things, or ideas, or what’s going on in the news or injustices in a faraway country. I guess God has the ability to use anything to spark us, and move us passionately, and to gift us with the ability to create good and true art from that spark.
LIM: How does artistic inspiration interact with spiritual revelation?
Eternia: Hmm, good question! I’m still trying to figure that out! (Laughs). I can only say that I think the Creator created us to create, and often what inspires us to create—and subsequently, the works of art that are made end up being for His good pleasure and purpose. Not always but man…think about a beautiful painting. Was the artist a believer? Were they listening to God? Perhaps not but it touches you just the same, reminding you of God’s beauty and purpose. God can use anyone, whether they know it or not! “He directs the mind of a King as easily as He directs the course of a stream.” We just need to get out of the way!
“The Messengers” (16:33)
Featuring recording artists in order of appearance: Shad, Sadia, Mr. Lif & Eternia
Written, produced & edited by: Silk “Eternia” Kaya
Recorded by: Mr. Lif at Terra Tone Audio
Features excerpts of:
“Epilogue: Long Jawn” – written by Shad, produced by Rel McCoy, featured on Shad’s album “Flying Colours”
“iLL” – written by Mr. Lif, produced by Synesthetic Nation Music, featured on Mr. Lif’s album “Don’t Look Down”
“Hope” – written by Sadia (f.k.a. Chuck), music by How to Dress Well
“For This Life” – written by Eternia & Phoenix Pagliacci, produced by A. Beck (f.k.a. Ant B), featured on Hand’Solo Records’ “Bassments of Badmen Vol. 3”