Interview with Shammy Dee


Shammy DeeQ: Shammy, what inspired Spittin’ Truth and how was the process working with Alyce?

Spittin Truth came about as an answer to the question “Why don’t artists of different generations work together?” The Playhouse connected the two of us and gave us an open invite to create whatever we wanted.

We spent about 3-4 months crafting the idea. At the time, the BLM protests were at its peak. That inspired the discussion of how protests have continued from generation to generation. We connected it with the idea of Church, given Alyce’s background as a minister, and put together a series of wonderfully rich, provocative, and engaging videos for you to see.

Working with Alyce was great! She brought the fire with her words and performance. As the music producer and director, my whole goal was to make sure the music and the visuals supported and amplified her message. I think it turned out well.

Q: Can you speak to the intergenerational aspects of this piece?

Like I mentioned before, the BLM protests last summer were inescapable. It reached an important tipping point that the whole world felt. This moment was a long time coming. BUT, this moment was possible because of the work of Black activists that have been consistently laying the foundation since the 1800s – think Fredrick Douglass and Booker T. Washington. Of course, that work continued with the Civil Rights Movement of the late 60s. And the BLM movement has carried the torch to this day.

But even within the work, there is an intergenerational connection. With “Sermon” you have contemporary sounds over Alyce’s voice. That’s a combination that you probably would have never seen, until now! I’m pulling Alyce’s performance into a more modern musical context. With “Fellowship,” I took a more classic approach with the reggae/dub vibes. “Communion” is more of a timeless sound that could be heard 50 years ago or 50 years into the future.

Q: How was it filming the videos on the UCSD campus?

It was great to be connected to the campus again! I had fun integrating the landmarks of UCSD like the Ché Café and Stonehenge into the videos. The Ché just felt like the right spot for the message behind “Sermon.” We turned Stonehenge into a church for “Communion”! We were also fortunate to work in the beautiful garden behind the Playhouse. It’s definitely a hidden gem.

Q: What is the Sermon Challenge?

The Sermon Challenge is our way of inviting all artists who feel moved by the work to create their version of Sermon. It’s one thing to observe art, it’s another to create and extend the piece by putting your take on it.

Q: What would you say to UCSD students (and ultimately, any students anywhere!) and your fellow alum about the Sermon Challenge and why they should consider getting involved?

I’ve always felt the Arts at UCSD is slept on because this university is so well known for it’s engineering school and the School of Medicine. It unfortunately overshadows all the great artists that have come out of UCSD. I would love all current students and alum in the arts to showcase how good we are at what we do and show the world that UCSD can create great art with impact.

Personally, I would LOVE to hear what you do with our piece. It’s always great to see how artists interpret other artists work and bring their flavor, perspective, and style to it. Plus, it doesn’t have to be just poets. We have a dope dancer from NYC, Jordon Waters, who gave a FIRE dance performance over the music and brought a crazy dope visual to “Sermon.” I can’t do half the dance moves he does! And I never thought to do something like that with the visuals. It’s that kind of magic that only other dancers, singers, rappers, poets – and even visual artists – can bring.

Also, if you want an opportunity to get your work on a bigger platform, here is your chance. The Playhouse is also showing love by reposting the pieces that other artists put together. They’ve shown amazing support throughout the whole process and continue to do so now. Get your work seen on a bigger platform! ♦

» Read our interview with Spittin’ Truth co-creator Alyce Smith Cooper

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