What About Love?' Interview with Ingrid D. Johnson
Winnipeg based artist Ingrid D. Johnson is a poet, spoken word performer, filmmaker and now singer and songwriter. The thread running through all of Johnson’s work is a desire for social change, particularly following her story overcoming sexual abuse as a child. She is the founder of ‘In The Closet Productions’, whose mission is to be a voice for the voiceless. In this interview Ingrid talks about her brand new project, ‘What About Love?’
What inspired you to start this CD project?
The album really came out of wanting to ask, “What about love in our relationships?” I recognised, through pursuing music, my art and in life itself how everything that has been a source of pain or sadness to me has been because of a lack of love. Even when you watch the news a lot of the stories happen because love is missing, so I wanted to address that.
Everyday I’d be sitting at home and a bunch of songs would come into my heart. I’d be humming songs and they’d have to do with experiences that I was going through that were really trying for me. I was reflecting on a lot of changes in my life with relationships, realising that I was losing some friendships in order to become a stronger person, even losing some friendships based on the fact that I became a Christian. There were a lot of people in my life that weren’t willing to understand that.
"I had a sense of who I was, why I was doing it, and what I wanted the outcome to be"
Many of the songs seem very personal and autobiographical. What was the process of sharing and recording them like? Was it quite vulnerable?
It was vulnerable, because I had 5 musicians who are all very talented with tonnes of experience in music. Whereas I started off as a poet who became a spoken word artist and then became a filmmaker and then songwriting was the last gift that I felt blessed by God to receive. I took on the task of learning to sing, because I wasn’t initially a singer, so I felt very vulnerable going to my musicians and singing my melodies and songs to them. But my musicians were great because from the beginning I told them I was learning. They were very humble and they’d correct me whenever I needed correction, so it was a very peaceful and very positive experience. I had more of a sense of who I was, why I was doing it, and what I wanted the outcome to be than in previous projects.
The album has sometimes a poppy feel, funky and soul music- What influenced the styles of music on the album? Was it your decision or the musicians?
I think it was a collaboration of both. I call my band the funky fresh crew, they can do any style of music, they are really talented. I got some Youtube videos of different artists that I really appreciate and I wanted a similar vibe to what they had in their music and I’d say, “This is the feel that I’m trying to capture, this is the kind of mood that I want.” My keyboard player, Nick Mullin, is talented in 3 different instruments. He led most of our rehearsals and practices and he’s the one that helped to arrange most of the music. We would all work together to try and come up with the sound that I was trying to communicate.
The album is part of your company ‘In The Closet Productions’ - where did that name come from and what is the aim of the company?
When I initially came up with the name it had to do with my very first spoken word project before I was a Christian, called ‘Black Butterfly’. I recorded some of the tracks in my actual bedroom closet, so I came up with the words ‘In The Closet Productions’. As I became a born again Christian, that took on different meaning for me; when you have a problem you go into your prayer closet, and you talk to God about the problem. And when you come out, Holy Spirit leads you into a solution for the problem because you’ve stopped focusing on the problem, and now you focus on God, who is the solution. So that’s what it represents to me, when I go into my prayer closet, and I create something, I am coming out with a solution, with an answer, with an inspiration that God has given me to help people to remember Him and to know that He is love. When you see love in action it’s actually a representation of God Himself.
"Everyone wants love, everyone needs love, and everyone hears that voice that says “Come back to love.”"
The music and art you create is designed for social change - in what ways do you hope this album will create positive change?
When I perform the songs, I’m hoping that it will inspire people to think about their relationships and what could be lacking. I want to influence people to remember that there is a God of love out there who is always calling them to come back to Him and to trust Him for everything that they need in this life. If they have adversity, if they have problems, He’s the solution, He’s their healing. There are other messages that are out there in music, art and film, and not all of them are positive messages. I want to be a light in what I consider to be a dark place in music and entertainment. I want to take people back to wholesome values, Christian values, and remind people that love makes the world a better place.
“Wow God, look at this thing we’ve created together, thank you!”
What is your favourite song on ‘What About Love?’
‘Come Back’ is my favourite song! When I listen to it, I feel joy and I thank God for it because I never expected it to come out as good as it did. I’m like, “Wow God, look at this thing we’ve created together, thank you!” The song is exactly what my story was. I was running and I felt that He was calling me and calling me to come back to Him. I grew up in the church and I remember always feeling this compelling, this calling throughout my life, but I wanted to do things my own way. Finally I realised that my own way was really causing me more harm than good, so that song means so much to me on so many levels. You know, everyone wants love, everyone needs love, and everyone hears that voice that says “Come back to love.”
Will you be touring with the album? Will it be gigs or will there be performance and spoken word too?
I hope to go on tour first nationally and then in the US and internationally. I do envision in the tour a mix of both sharing my story and my poetry and showing films that I’ve created on screen as well as performing my songs, making it almost like musical theatre, but with a deeper purpose.