The World May Have Went Haywire, But We’re Still Groovin

An Interview with Jerome Manguba by Em Biggs

Described as an opportunity to dive deeper, I was over the moon about interviewing my friend Jerome. Since meeting Jerome, he has always been someone who invests soulfully in whatever he does. By that I mean he is a hard worker, who is aware of the details of his involvement and wants to deliver on that. With Jerome currently attending Ryerson University for Fashion Design, working as an Apparel Design Intern for WIL Studios, and overall just being a cool dude… He has also come across another realm of his skillset, being Music Journaling!!
- em biggs

Music Journaling: A journaling prompt that takes the form of written, verbal, or rhythmic dialogues. Perhaps writing lyrics based on emotion, arranging songs in a playlist or creating a mixed track as an extension of your feelings.
For Jerome, this looks like regular journaling, though instead of a book to write in, he uses CD collections/digital music archives and a DJ controller to get out his thoughts, feelings, and moods.

jerome's portfolio jerome's soundcloud jerome's instagram WIL

Maybe the lead up of this article should have been a description of his radio show on UMFM Radio, J-Soul. Or maybe we should have started with the part about how his music taste has jumped from album to album since shooting hoops in middle school. But we are here now, so let’s get into it! Feeling inspired by the ’90s and 2000’s Hip-Hop and Neo-Soul tracks by D’Angelo, Erykah Badu, and Q-Tip. what Jerome is settling into and exploring these days is connected to those rhythms as well. Music Journaling is a relatively new practice for Jerome and in his latest mixes on SoundCloud, he links Modern with Neo-Soul history on a belt of analog and acoustic sounds. For him, creating these tracks helps him to bring out more of what he feels through music than in words.

He goes on to explain that there is tenderness and care when anyone talking to anyone speaks of music. Or friends/strangers that suggest to you a song. “Music is what keeps people in touch,” Jerome says. I find it interesting. In preparing for our interview and as I am writing this article now, I have been listening to the tracks Jerome has created to do just that. To keep in touch. Tell me, is it amplifying our work?

Reflecting on what Music Journaling has meant for Jerome as an artist, he identifies the weaving he has done with his work in fashion. A ton of his designs are related to music. With physical creations, there is also an album or song connected. Or like in making an album, there is a similar articulation in designing an outfit. He says, “You need different variations to sum up an equivalent mood.” I may not be as smooth as Jerome’s transitions in his mixes but I’M LEARNING. So, let us switch tempos as we further chat about his experiences as an intern at WIL in Toronto.

WIL. An acronym for ‘What I Like’, The company streams their energy between designing and selling clothing that is felt as playful but in a more mature way. The other half of WIL resides in their creative direction, collaborating with artists to make music videos, or whatever format they are looking to express. Whatever road WIL goes down, they offer “A progressive take on everyday silhouettes.” Many different individuals, from different backgrounds, are being represented at the forefront of their brand. Working with artists such as Daniel Caesar, Donte Colley, Charlotte Day Wilson, and Daniela Andrade. Jerome speaks on how the brand itself is focused on including everyone. Something in the works for a lot of brands right now is creating non-gendered sizing charts. Jerome further explains that diversity in fashion is pulling something off the rack and making it work in a flattering way for ALL people. He outlines the collaboration of time and great ideas necessary to come up with solutions to real issues of inclusivity in our current fashion industry.

As we brainstormed ways to contribute solutions, Jerome offered this perspective:

“While designers and brands are continuously finding creative ways in being more inclusive, it’s important for consumers to buy product in sustainable ways and from brands based on their values. Invest in brands that have ethical practices and that create narratives that you can connect with.”

Simply put, it is about the individual supporting the brand while the brand supports the community. Since COVID there has been a lot of time for brands to reflect and make changes to better support the communities they are approaching, while still maintaining and expanding their original intention to create.

As artists, we create for ourselves, like a soft remedy as to a response to our experiences or even a pandemic. Maybe this looks like music journaling, drawing out sketches, or designing clothes. Or perhaps it is another modality. Yes, we create for ourselves, but we also create for others. When we share it helps other people to see that there is another option of doing things, creating a more dynamic and accepting approach to the systems we live in. Most importantly I think that creative expression shows us that we can change. That we can be playful and at the same time very capable of getting what we want out of life.

Thank you to Jerome for sharing your perspectives and trusting me to write this piece. I am so grateful.

Em Biggs' Tip Jar ☕