JIDIANI from The Musket Vine
‘Jidiani’ aka Mahonry Tovar. Music was a cope for him. Dealing with a tough time at home led him to become an artist because he wanted to express himself freely. The ability to manipulate sounds and put them together interested him so he formed the band The Musket Vine. Before the band, he was doing it all by himself like recording, composing, engineering, drums, guitarists, and the sound riffs. In this interview, he talks about the obstacles he faces and how music is his way of expressing himself.
I asked who “Jidiani” is. He replied,
J: “My name is Mahonry Alejandro Tovar. I am a Chicano born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada. I am the mastermind behind The Musket Vine. I created the band back in high school with my friend who is the drummer currently, and I’ve been writing, producing, recording, and composing all the music for The Musket Vine, and the band members bring it to life; It’s kind of like a project”.
Why did you want to become an artist and what compelled you?
J: “Music and becoming an artist compelled me because I went through a tough time as a kid because my parents went through a divorce which is very common among minorities. Kind of growing with a broken family and without a mom and dad, music was kind of my outlet so it was my way to kinda express myself and what I was going through. As far as feeling like heartbreak or feeling alone and feeling like I didn’t belong, music just kinda allowed me to express myself freely and the ability to manipulate sounds. Kind of put[ting] sounds together always interested me so I kept doing it for a long time”.
The Musket Vine, who are they and what do they do?
J: “The Musket Vine is basically a name for the music that is being presented so it’s a name that I came up with, and as far as the members of the band, they’re the people that bring it to life. They’re my friends that have been with me, beside the guitarists. The drummer and the bass players are original band members from when we started, and we started back in high school and I just kinda showed them parts that I created for the songs, and we started shows. They are the people that make it come to life and I’m the person who records music and does the engineering stuff, but they take care of the music that they are performing on stage. That is what The Musket Vine is”.
When did the band form?
J: “Before The Musket Vine name it was called The Blues Band because the drummer and I were a duo band. We went through a lot of names. We were Black Birds first and then we were the Ted Heads, and then eventually I had this weird dream and I came up with the name The Musket Vine. At that time it was around 2014 or 2015. We were still in high school and we were incorporating other members into the band like the lead guitarists [and] the bass player that plays with the band right now. It was around 2014 or 2015 when the band was formed.”
What was the hardest song to make as a band and what did you and your other bandmates do to overcome it?
J: “All the songs that you hear I recorded all myself and every instrument you hear I did it all myself. I wasn’t an original drummer, bass player, or a guitarist, I just composed music and I had to teach myself how to do it. It was difficult for me to record a lot of stuff and I was also teaching myself how to do sound engineering so a lot of the sounds were really hard to record, [but] the hardest sound to record was ‘Rooftops.’ How I overcame it was just hitting record and recording several takes of ‘Rooftops.’ [I did] several takes of the lead and several takes of the drums because I wasn’t very experienced in playing lead or the drums”.
‘Unwanted Memories’ and ‘Sleepless Nights,’ When those albums came out, how did you feel after the hard work?
J: “Damn, that was such a long time. At that time, I had joined the military and I had just come back from basic training. I was in the army and I broke my foot skateboarding so I had a lot of time on my hands. I was in my room with a cast on my foot so I couldn’t move. I spent every single day recording so I recorded the whole album in a span of a month – the ‘Unwanted Memories’ album – and after I finished recording it, I didn’t think much of it so I uploaded it to BandCamp and it got picked up by some record label, it was an independent record label. It felt good and it was really crazy on how much buzz we were getting locally at the time when that happened.
Then I think a year or 2 years later, I moved out on my own and I was living with a family friend and once again, I had a lot of time on my hands so I decided to start recording another album. I recorded ‘Sleepless Nights’ in two months and the same thing again, I did the album artwork, produced, engineered it and wrote every single guitar riff, every single bass line, [and] drum pattern that you hear in the recording, and I just put it out I didn’t really think much about it. It’s always been kinda easy for me to just compose music really quickly so to me it’s not really a sense of accomplishment because it’s really a sense of me releasing what it is that is playing in my head”.
What are some obstacles you face as an artist, and how do you overcome them?
J: “The biggest obstacle I face as an artist is life in general. We all deal with life. I do a lot of things, I don’t just make music for The Musket Vine. I make hiphop and R&B music for myself and for my other projects. I’m also a personal trainer and I served in the military so I do a lot of different things. As an artist, it becomes very difficult because when you are focused on something, like I’m focused on The Musket Vine, I have to convert myself mentally into The Musket Vine, and when I do something else, I have to convert myself into the other project I’m working on or into a personal trainer or whatever it is I’m working on so shifting mindsets is difficult for me as an artist.
It becomes an obstacle in my life because I have to switch mindsets. I isolate myself and I record music and I become this artist for this project that I’m working towards or I become this person for the thing I’m working towards, and it interferes with my personal life because I have family, I have friends, and I also have other things I need to incorporate into my life, and when I’m just focused on that, it can kind of affect my relationships with other people because I’m just so lost in my own head. The way I overcome it is going to therapy and meditating. Reading books helps out a lot and just talking to mentors”.
Article By: Aniya Washington
Photographer: Aniya Washington