The legendary power couple, Jodie B and Justin Makemdef, have combined forces and created the hauntingly beautiful, Manteasah. With Jodie’s mesmerizing vocals and Justin’s smooth lyrical madness, both artists have brought an unbeatable element making them unmatched to other emerging artists in 2020. I got to sit down and get real deep about their creative process and find out about the inner-workings of their debut track, “The Minister.“
FMF: So you two, tell us how you got together?
JB & MD: Where it all began is pretty crazy; we were navigating our separate paths in music, and while we had heard of each other through mutual friends, we’d never officially met. Our paths finally crossed early 2017 at the Art Car and Music Festival, Boogaloo. It was love at first sight (the kind fuel by LSD and 40 Degree days, with especially cool nights.) It was a festival love, but with 2 Artists – The kind that makes a long tour not feel so… lonely.
We parted ways from there (to Long Beach and Compton, respectively…), but soon after returning to Calgary, we started sending ideas back and forth every day (and still do). From there the love for each other and our passion for the music grew, we’re both fiercely loyal and dedicated to each other and to making our dream careers a reality.
We left the bustling streets of Calgary to find peace in ourselves within the mountains of BC. Jodie’s since established herself as an in-house engineer at Frequency Studio‘s in Kelowna, British Columbia, recording hundreds of artists and fulfilling a life-long vision of operating her own independent studio. Justin continues to build his repertoire as Makemdef, and his particularly dark brand with his duo, Chuurch.
With that under our belts, we’re diving head-in on this one. Our paths have crossed and the music connects. We help each other stay disciplined, always striving to learn new skills and techniques in music production and our respected roles in the Music Culture. It teaches us to communicate better in the relationship as well, studio sessions can be therapy, we take turns role-playing psychiatrists.
Can you describe your creative process?
Jodie B: Justin’s out-put level is insane. I don’t think anyone comes close to how many beats he’ll do in a single day, week, or month. It’s hard to keep up with sometimes because there’s always so much new material there, but that’s the beauty of it – when I’m ready to write, when the mood and ideas are flowing, he’s got something ready to go. I trust his ear, he’s a producer and a beat-maker, he’s always got an interesting way of looking at the entire concept and how there can be hidden meanings in the art. I play my instruments, he samples his records. That Soul gets encoded into our Music’s DNA.
Makemdef: She’s good at listening, it’s taught me a lot about studio etiquette and how to help bring the best out myself in a session. I’m lucky to have had a lot of good teachers. In terms of what we’ve done together so far, we’ve uncovered a few formulas. Sometimes we create a song from scratch, sometimes I’ll produce the beat and she’ll think of the concept for the song, or vice-versa – Maybe it’s something we’ve been working on solo and just want the other to feature on. There’s an ocean’s deep worth of knowledge between us, and that’s exponentially quantified by the people we surround ourselves with.
Jodie B: Lately, the most common creative process for us seems to be Justin creates the beat, the skeleton, then passes it off to me, and I will write and record different vocals or instruments on it, then send it back to him. It’s like building a robot, only out of ghost parts – It’s “Ghostly mechanical”. He mixes the beat, I mix the vocals and instruments, then we master the song together. Our ears play different roles in the process.
With that being said, what goals do you have set out for yourselves?
Makemdef: I think every touring artist hates the feeling of leaving their family when they go out on the road. We’re blessed to be able to go out together. That in itself is the goal, to keep doing what we’re doing while we’re able to appreciate it.
Jodie B: I just want a dope studio in the woods with a Millenium Falcon cock-pit for the mix-board with the window looking out at the mountains. No biggie.
Makemdef: We can arrange that…
Jodie B: We’ve explored the world and toured new cities together doing what we love. Why not every known galaxy in the universe? A ‘Millenium Falcon’ studio could get us places regular ones can’t.
Makemdef: You gotta invest in the best studio chair you can find for that. I always see producers with these incredible studios that resemble a spaceship, but then they go and have the most uncomfortable chair ever built for an office at the helm of the set-up. You can’t spend all that money on equipment for your spaceship and then go cheap out on a plastic chair duct-tape to the floor. That shit can’t handle the light speed or time travel, son…
Jodie B: …
Makemdef: Goals babe, goals.
How do you two piece together your track “The Minister”? It is truly such gripping and enticing tune.
Makemdef: This is one of the few tracks I’ve ever done that took this long, approx 8 months. I had the initial beat crafted last year when I made it I knew I had cracked the code on a new style and formula. I remember pulling Jodie in the room and having her hear it, next thing I knew the words were spilling out onto the page. It was magic. A glass of wine and some smoke later, Jodie came up with the hook. It kinda scared us at the beginning. We weren’t sure how people we’re going to take it. But it spoke to me, it was putting all that darkness out into the light to be seen and heard that gave me confidence on that mic. Jodie helped get me there, it was her encouragement that led me to that level where I was comfortable with hearing myself on the records.
A couple months later I was working with L.A. based producer Thomas Sahs, who I met down in Hollywood with Chuurch. We’ve been working on a lot of stuff with Honey Claws and his camp, sending files back and forth. Well, one night he sent me something and as soon as I heard it my brain went to work. The sounds and textures he sent added perfectly over the original idea. It fit over the beat like Tony Stark getting the Iron Man suit, the attachment was almost magnetic, it was an eerily perfect fit. The kind of experience I live and do this for.
Jodie B: After it was all said and done and the track was ready, I reached out and got Maddi Dewalt to shoot the video. We just followed her lead because she’s a professional, and her ideas and concepts and that insane location went together in no time. We brought the song through to its final form with the video. I don’t think either of us thought we could do it, but we proved we could.
So what is the meaning behind this dark track?
Jodie B: “Let the devil come light up your life” was actually not meant to be in such a literal term, it’s meant as a reference of using the darkness as inspiration to overcome the struggle.
Makemdef: We all have our Demons, big or small, sometimes accepting the situations you’ve faced will become a metaphor for overcoming the struggles they put you through. There’s strength in that, and a well of inspiration to draw from. What I’m taking from that is Occult Macabre meets Tim Burton…I want my music to be like the colours in his movies, mixed with ancient knowledge in wax poetics.
So, what’s the story behind the spooky film location? I know I got the creeps as soon as we were on set.
Jodie B: When we first gave the song to the director, she came back with some ideas that I was pretty nervous to put together, only because I knew that the message of this song might not come out in a way I couldn’t control. When we arrived at the location, the walls had been spray-painted like some sort of seance had gone on there. We looked at each other and said “well, I guess this is it.”
Makemdef: As crazy as it may seem, something brought us out there. Maddi had an idea where the location with that Jodie and I hopped in the whip and off we went. When we finally found it we could hardly believe what we were seeing from the outside, perfect location. An abandoned train yard, the kind you see in your weirdest dreams come to life.
We only went inside the buildings the day of the shoot (Thank God you were there, Darby) and all of us were completely taken back by what we’d found. It was mind-blowing, symbols I couldn’t recognize. It was spooky at first, but i used the vibe to match the depths I went to write those verses, and thanks to you and everyone involved, helped us create something outside of ourselves we never thought possible.
(There wasn’t any witch-craft or dark magic involved on our part, you can attest to that. It was so much fun tromping thru snow exploring those different spots with you, Darby. It was our own personal Horror Movie memory,)
Anything else you want to mention to the people?
JB & MD: First off, we wanna give a huge shout out to our Big Sister, Nique Bruce a.k.a Nique Blue, the third member of the Manteasah squad. None of this would’ve been possible without her and her partner Jay in our corner.
Makemdef: Thank you to my big bro Thomas Sahs for helping me get that beat where it needed to be!
Jodie B: We also want to thank Maddi Dewalt for lending us her expertise and wisdom on this project. Her innate ability to offer direction and guidance paired with her attention to detail and work ethic made this possible.
Makemdef: Maddi is a one-woman army, that day she wore every hat – director, videographer, illustrator and producer, all of it and more, and managed to keep us in check in -20 weather. That’s the kind of artist that will test you in a good way, to push you past limits you didn’t think you were capable of in a battle… and you want a person like that as your Sergeant because that’s exactly the kind of soldier who’s going to get you out alive. I trust her process.
Jodie B: Everybody’s been asking when our music is coming out. Our debut was supposed to be at the AMPhitheatre stage this year at Shambhala Music Festival but due to the circumstances, none of us are going to get that chance. This doesn’t change anything, tho. We’ve been building up the archives for over a year, we’ve got everything we need and now that we do, our plan is hatched. We couldn’t be more excited to get it out – finally, the world is going to see what happens when souls like ours collide, and the musical chemistry that reverberates from it. Patience is a virtue, and now we’ve got it dialled in.
JB & MD: It’s time to unleash these beats. Thank you to everybody for supporting us through all our musical journeys over the years. We’re always giving 100% to every project we’re involved with because music is our life – Jodie B, Makemdef, Chuurch and now Manteasah are our babies. We love them dearly and will always continue to put everything we have into them. Manteasah is just another avenue for us to channel those creative vibes, we’re all about the alchemy of human interaction through music and will continue to push the boundaries of our creativity with it.
Thank you Darby, for everything. We couldn’t have done this without you, buddy
Make sure you check out Manteasah’s song “The Minister” below and keep your eyes peeled on socials for the release of their haunting music video!
*Featured Image Via Manteasah*