Photo creds: @take.a.phew.shots on Instagram
Ajhani, better known as Seven, is a woman of many different occupations: hostess, artist manager, poet, engineer, occasional rapper, occasional rapper, and student. How I first met her was at some event at Virginia Union University and then we would run into each other during various events in Richmond, VA. She is more known as the face of Melodic Mondays at The Nutty Buttery in Richmond. The Melodic Mondays platform is an open mic that takes place every Monday just outside of VCU campus in the Carver neighborhood. I decided to interview her because she's a young swiss army knife that can be essential in different parts of the Richmond arts and music scene.
Jay: Explain what is Melodic Mondays and it’s evolution. Where did it begin? What’s the origin of the name? What does it mean to you?
Seven: Melodic Mondays is an open mic platform or showcase that allows people to be able to experience self-expression and encouragement. It began just like most as an idea it was originally Money Making Mondays and a Potluk Pop Up. I was introduced to Shaun Powell and he tasked to bring artists and customers into The Nutty Buttery. However, before I accepted this task, we agreed that a name change was needed. The phrase Melodic Mondays slipped out of my mouth and it was history from there. Melodic Mondays is my happy place. It means that at least one night of the week I’m going to hear music I like, meet some awesome people, and eat some great food. It reminds me of home.
This event happens every Monday and this is the uniform flyer that's used every week for the event.
Jay: Expound on the list of artists and other individuals that you manage. What makes each individual stand out?
Seven: I manage three and a half artists. Many people squint and turn their heads when I say that but let me explain, I have three artists on contract with A.O Music Management. They are Dre Person, Una The Uno, and Rello XO. I also help out my girl The Stuttering Poet from time to time whether it’s her previewing a new poem or working out frustrations of the business world.
There's a lot that makes each one of my artists stand out, from the sound of their music to the way they prepare for a project. For Rello he style stands out for me. He has a way of showing his flare in his outfits and his way of making his visions come to light if Rello says that he’s going to do something he’s going to do it and do it up. For Una, it’s definitely his goofiness. He will have the entire room grinning from ear to ear effortlessly and I believe you can see that in some of the songs he currently has out. For Dre it’s the way he plans and strategies for things, whether it’s a show or a project he has a plan for everything.
Seven on the right featured with one of her artists, Dre Person (center) during the "Wat It Do" video shoot. Photo creds @WeAreInnominate on Instagram
Jay: You’re also an engineer at TakeYourTime Studios. As someone who’s primarily a manager/event host, what made you try out engineering?
Seven: I started engineering in about February of this year. Honestly, it was something that I always wanted to have under my belt, I think after the initial fear of not knowing I jumped in headfirst. It just made sense for me I want to be able to provide my artist with the best that I can, and I feel as if I should know how their music is made, how to achieve their desired sound so even if or when they record with someone else I’d have a better ear to understand what going on in their music.
Jay: How can someone that's interested in engineering get into it?
Seven: I think this is the best time to get into engineering, but you should definitely understand that it is an investment. Whether that’s time, money, energy or etc. You should be in the place where you know you have a love of music before putting the engineering cap on. Then after that talk to any audio engineers you know, the best way that I’ve been able to learn is hands-on and learning from someone more experienced than me. I will also say, when in doubt, YouTube is always your best friend.
Jay: What was your greatest failure and why?
Seven: I’m not sure. I’m not saying that to be cocky. I just don’t accept many things as failures. Even if an event doesn’t go exactly as planned it still teaches me something which I in turn take and make the next one better. A failure to me would be if I just gave up, stopped my momentum, and throw everything out the window. I strongly believe if I keep hustling, grinding, and putting out positive energy that everything I do will be successful.
Jay: How would you balance your many different professions with your college schedule?
Seven: Truth be told, I wasn’t able to. When I was in school, managing artists, hosting Melodic Mondays, and working was very stressful. I felt as if I wasn’t able to give equal parts of myself to each entity of my life. I definitely tried to combine them in some ways but once COVID hit, my desire and ability to focus diminished. I guess it was the fact that we were online versus being in person. Nevertheless, this experience has felt like an additional college experience. I would spend long hours doing research on management skills, promotion tactics, mixing and mastering then being able to immediately apply it to the real world.
Written by: Jay Guevara. @justinhisprime on all social media.