In Conversation with: Tondi Rams

Often it is the experiences we have lived through and garnered that lay ground for our current and future paths. Artist, Tondi Rams has recently released his debut EP titled, Tales of the Heart, and in similar vain there are stories and lived experiences that accumulated in built up to the inevitable release.

Below we caught up with Tondi to speak on the acoustic styled EP, his abovementioned path that led to current period, the importance of brand building as well as overall success.

Read the interview below…

How fulfilling does it feel now that you have a few of your own song releases out there?

It feels refreshing man! Knowing that I have quite a number of releases out there is super rewarding – I say rewarding because it’s one thing to write songs, record them and play them for yourself, like I usually do, but sharing those songs with the world and having people appreciate and resonate with them is a beautiful feeling. This is also because these songs mean so much to me, they are birthed from my heart. So, it brings me great joy to have my own releases out there.

Being a person that is involved in the work of other artists for so long prior to now proper recording your own music, how has the transition been for you?

The transition has been seamless – as much as I wasn’t releasing songs for a while, I kept writing my own songs and creating my own music. For instance last year, I started going back to the studio to work on an EP that was meant to have been my debut EP, but things took a different turn when I had the opportunity to work on this EP (Tales of the Heart) that I believed was the perfect-imperfect debut project given how raw and honest it is, with values of faith, hope and love which are the underlying themes, and to an extent the backbone of what I do as an artist.

With this debut release you have ventured into the gospel space, how rewarding for your overall spiritual journey is it – the proximity?

It’s an exciting time for me! Gospel music has always been a part of my life, and having written gospel and Christian music before that I did not necessarily get to sing myself, to now getting to be the voice in those songs is an amazing feeling. A large part of it all is also down to how the timing feels right too. For the longest of time my parents, some of my friends and people outside would ask me, “When are you going to sing gospel?”, and that always bothered me because the love music I make is not really separate from gospel music because it all comes from the same heart and value system. And I have always echoed that I would do it when the time was right, and I think, now without any external pressures but solely out of having peace from God about it, I can say I knew it was time. And to finally answer your question, what led me to this point was proximity to God, getting back to that place of intentional connection with God. Making the music didn’t bring me closer to Him, it’s the intimacy with Him that got me to this place and I’m grateful for it. The gospel music I’m making is a testament of my journey with God, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

How different is a gospel audience to a pop audience which you are somewhat familiar with and how hard is it (if at all) to cater for them?

I think the audience is somewhat the same in the sense that both these audiences want something they can relate to and just want to enjoy the music. The difference would be the style of the music and the message, where the gospel music is based on God and how we relate with Him, and the pop music is based on certain themes of life, and not necessarily based on God. So, the audience is different based on that, especially because not everyone believes in God. But it’s amazing how some people who don’t believe in God can still vibe with certain gospel songs. When it comes to how hard it is to cater to both, I don’t know how hard it is yet, but I’m looking forward to seeing how catering for both audiences will be.

How important is it to you that you build a brand for yourself that goes hand in hand with the music you offer?

It’s critically important simply because people either meet your brand first before they listen to your music or they listen to your music first and then get introduced to your brand, so imperative that the two worlds are inline so people get to know me and perceive me the way I want them to.

You are from a Christian home and background, in that context, do you feel the type of music you are making now was destined? How has the reception been from your loved ones?

I believe so, and a huge part of that is because when I started taking song writing seriously I was writing songs for our church, that iis what was coming effortlessly to me at that time given I was greatly involved as a worship leader at my home church. My parents are pastors and being a pastor’s kid, church is where my passion for music grew more. There is a song I wrote during my gap year in 2010 while working at my brother’s internet café titled “Crazy”, that song went on to be sung by We Will Worship, and other bands and artists as well as churches around different parts of the world! How that song became an anthem of sorts still blows my mind away. Also, the fact that I love God so much man, it is bound to effortlessly happen. It’s the same as when you are in love or experienced heartbreak as an artist, you’re most likely going to write and sing about it. So yeah, I believe it was destined.

You released Tales of the Heart as an acoustic EP, was that a conscious decision and what was the thinking behind it?

Yeah, that was definitely a conscious decision, but one that was not planned. Tales of the Heart EP is technically not supposed to be my debut EP. I have an EP that I started working on last year with the hopes of releasing it earlier this year but things weren’t moving as fast in terms of the project being completed, and that got me to a point of frustration. But in that time of feeling down about the project, I won an open mic and then got awarded a Tiny desk type of recording. I was going to perform some songs I’ve released, but then I had an idea, which felt God breathed, to record a live acoustic EP with songs I had written years back and one or two new ones.

With everything considered, how is the immediate future looking for you?

The future is looking like a lot of new music that I’m excited to share. I haven’t been as excited as I am now. I love what I do and looking forward to expanding my horizons, collaborating with more artists, which I have already started doing more of now.

What is success to you?

Success to me is being at peace, enjoying the simple pleasures of life, sharing beautiful moments with those I love and love me, living out of abundance and living out my purpose and knowing people’s lives are being positively impacted.