Feature image by Alexandria Benton, @alexbentonn
On the green banks of the Mississipi, blooms a wildflower with petals of potent indigo. Down in Memphis, Tennessee, where the blues was born and Martin Luther King Jr. shot dead; the 22 year old activitist Jordan Occasionally is a beautiful personification of changing times. Her debut album Indigo, released in February, is a fix for that evening summer soul album, for when the pink sky turns to deep blue. A chilled soulful disco x RnB crossover that I am very excited to share with you. So if you dun know…
If you are Jordan Occasionally, who are you most of the time?
Jordan: I am Jordan Dodson or JD, neo-soul/disco, agender, queer artist and activist from
Memphis, TN! I go by Jordan Occasionally because most people that know me call me
JD! It’s kind of funny.
Tell us about your musical journey, a beginning, a middle and the unwritten?
I gained a real passion for singing and songwriting around the age of 14, when I joined
an all women’s a cappella group at my high school in Memphis, TN. It was there that I
started to believe in myself as a singer. When I was 15, I traveled outside of the south
for the first time to Vermont and I recognized that the world was so much bigger than
me. I was at a camp for kids in the arts and we had a slam poetry class. It was in this
class that I heard teenagers like myself discuss queer identity and the complexities of
racism across the country so openly. It was inspiring to hear kids my age talk about how
they wanted to be a change in this world. From that day on, I started writing music about
my future and what I wanted it to look like.
What are you studying and why?
Now I study Music Business and African American Studies in college, and one of the first songs I ever released was one I wrote at age 17 called, “Don’t Shoot”. I have always been able to find my voice as an artist and activist through music.
How does it feel to put Indigo out?
Well I’m 22 now and I look back on my journey as an artist and a kid growing up in a
very big world, and I’m so proud of me. “Indigo”, to me, is a dance with my inner child.
I’m no longer afraid to be myself and to celebrate my joy. It took me so long to feel
comfortable in my identity, so I see “Indigo” as a major step in embracing who I am.
As Memphis University’s first ‘Student Communicator of the year’ for protest movements, could you please comment on the work you did and what you think still needs to be done to combat the heinous racism black Americans face today?
Wow! That’s an honor that I still can’t believe is real. I stepped into organizing because I
was tired of feeling like a bystander in a fight that constantly affects my community. I
wrote a few songs about gentrification and police brutality when I was younger, and I
think something clicked inside that made me want to actually stand up and dosomething. I grabbed a megaphone and told my friends to meet me somewhere, and 50
folks turned into 200. Things happen so fast, and in the moment I didn’t realize my
impact would be so huge.
But I still know there’s work to be done for All Black Lives, especially poor, queer, and
trans folks. I think what really needs to be done is abolition: the intentional act of
abolishing systems that were created during chattel slavery. There’s no need for a police
force to have a moral authority on who lives and who dies, especially when the victims
are only 13% of the population and 90% targeted/incarcerated at higher rates than anyother population in the United States/ Black Americans need solidarity, but we also need
Indigo is so chill but so disco, how do you get such a vibe?
Growing up in Memphis, TN, soul is literally all around you. I grew up in the church on
sundays and every other day, my father played so many phenomenal soul artists like
Earth Wind and Fire, Michael Jackson, and the Barkays. I grew up listening to Memphis
Soul and Blues music my entire life, so I think it was natural that oneday I would tap into
my roots to create something inspiring.
Musical aspirations? Or just seeing what happens?
I honestly have so many. On my manifestation board right now, I want to make a song
with Raveena. I want to headline a show with Erykah Badu. And hopefully when things
become safe again, I want to travel the world. I believe these things will happen! I
honestly manifested this album so anything is possible.
If you had to wear one outfit for the rest of your life what would it be?
I would wear a mint green, monochrome, pantsuit with a v neck cut for the top. I’d wear
some white platform boots. Steel rings on every finger. My hair a big large curly afro and
some graphic eyeliner.
What’s your plan for the rest of 2021?
I plan to collaborate with artists and make some more disco music! I can’t wait for you all
to hear what’s coming! I’m releasing a music video for “Feel the Groov” on April 16,
2021. I hope you all dance with me from wherever you are.