Jaron Ikner Talks Star Camp, Project Delays and more in a new exclusive interview (Part 1)
Lately, Jaron Ikner has been a puzzle. His latest endeavor, Star Camp Creative Labs, appears to have slowed down his work on his second film, tentatively titled “Magenta,” and his highly anticipated Starstruck compilation album “Zenith.” Known for multitasking, the 39-year-old multimedia artist has sparked curiosity about these delays. He had gained momentum with “Zenith,” releasing two singles, “Switch” featuring Voodoeyes and “Above” featuring Cash Lanksy and Kaizo Trillhelm, and even hinted at more music to come. However, he then unexpectedly announced that both the movie and album would be delayed until 2024.
Since this announcement, Ikner seems to have concentrated on Star Camp Creative Labs, building a creative hub for emerging Phoenix artists. This multimedia studio, located in an unassuming warehouse in North Phoenix, has been hailed as “The Disneyland for creatives” by visiting artists. Star Camp, serving as a one-stop shop, aims to provide a comprehensive range of media services for artists. Over recent months, it has attracted well-known names like Dizzy Wright, Wifisfuneral, and David Michael Frank. Ikner has made Star Camp a welcoming place, offering amenities like snacks and video games to its guests.
In the midst of this, Ikner has been teasing a new project. Around the end of September, he started sharing snippets of new music on social media, clarifying that this music would not be part of “Zenith” or any other recent releases and would be out before the end of the year. There was speculation that he might continue his popular “Arizona Kanye” series with a sixth installment, but Ikner didn’t confirm this. Instead, he said his new project would focus on mental health, reflecting on recent events in his life.
At the beginning of November, Ikner announced his next single, “Golden Shadows,” as the lead single for his new project, “MENTAL.” He promised a release before the end of 2023 but hasn’t given a final release date. Known for his creative and expansive rollouts, Ikner is expected to deliver more than just an EP, hinting that his release might also include new paintings. He specifically stated that this project would not be part of his “Starstruck Multimedia Universe,” which encompasses various media forms from music to comics.
In typical Jaron Ikner fashion and as the owner of Quasar Qult (which also has gone quiet in recent months), Ikner has decided that he will conduct an exclusive interview with himself, with the help of Chat GPT, giving truly authentic insight into his current endeavors, artistic vision and what has really been going on.
Enjoy Part 1 of this two-part interview below:
“-I’ve been moving creatively petty for years now.”
QQ: So, interviewing yourself – is this a case of ‘no one else gets me’ or more of a ‘I finally found someone who laughs at my jokes’? What’s the real story behind going solo with the mic?
Jaron: Lol. I think plenty get me. I’m just being me. You know how that goes.
QQ: Yeah, I guess I do.
Jaron: I also think it is fitting. I’ve been talking to myself a lot more lately.
Jaron: Yeah, I actually got caught the other day. It was kind of embarrassing, but then I just played it off like “Oh that’s just what geniuses do.”
QQ: Do you really think you are a genius?
Jaron: Honestly? No. I get called that a lot but it frustrates me how much I don’t know sometimes. However, I’m insanely resourceful and motivated.
QQ: And what keeps you motivated these days?
Jaron: Man. It depends on the day. Sometimes, I’m motivated just by life. Experiencing all of this is something we can’t even comprehend. On other days, I want to watch the world burn. That can be motivating as well, in different ways.
QQ: Interesting. Care to elaborate?
Jaron: I remember watching The Shop with Lebron James and Donald Glover was his guest.
QQ: Oh, that’s your guy.
Jaron: Yeah, so he was talking about how he gets revenge by being “creatively petty,” the idea that instead of seeking revenge or comeuppance, just put it into the art and watch it flourish.
QQ: That sounds productive.
Jaron: I’m living proof. I’ve been moving creatively petty for years now.
“-I just want to be able to continue to tell stories in the most genuine way possible. “
Ikner: Who are you being creatively petty against?
Jaron: I mean. The generic answer is myself, or you I guess. But honestly, it’s just about everyone.
Jaron: Well, everyone has a version of you in their head. Typically, that version is skewed based on their own personal perspective on life. That part is fine. The part that gets fucked up is that we tend to keep whatever version we last encountered in our heads. It doesn’t matter how much that person has grown or evolved…or devolved.
QQ: I see. And you want to break these expectations?
Jaron: I just don’t ever want to be put into a box or have people make assumptions about me. Expectations are fine. Like, I want people to expect more content from me. I want people to expect me to do crazy things and continue to push myself. I just don’t want people to assume that I am one thing or the other.
QQ: That sounds like that can be stressful.
Jaron: Sure, but that’s a part of it. It’s built into the formula.
QQ: I see those grey hair poppin’ in that beard, though. Is the stress aging you?
Jaron: Haha, maybe. I feel like I’m still young at heart, though. The body isn’t quite built the same.
QQ: You’ll be 40 next year. How do you feel about that?
Jaron: Honestly, it’s crazy. Life is beautiful to me and I appreciate all of it, more and more, every day.
QQ: Speaking of appreciating life and its complexities, how do those reflections feed into your creative process? Do you find that as you’re approaching 40, your perspective on art, music, and storytelling is changing?
Jaron: As I grow older, I’m really beginning to value how important art is to the world and how blessed am I to be able to contribute to that. As I’ve said in previous interviews and social media posts, stories are by far the most important thing humans have ever produced. I just want to be able to continue to tell stories in the most genuine way possible.
QQ: As you reflect on the crucial role of art and storytelling, how have your own life experiences – the triumphs, struggles, or even the quieter moments – influenced the stories you feel compelled to share now?
Jaron: I deal with a lot of demons, man. I picked up a few new ones this year. However, creating is the ultimate exorcism. I’ve come to realize that I’m addicted to creating art. It is the ultimate high for me. I think over the last couple of years, I was denying myself of creating in the most genuine possible and it was affecting my art.
QQ: It’s powerful to hear you speak about creating as a form of exorcism for your demons. As you’ve reconnected with this genuine form of creation, how has it transformed not just your art, but also you as a person?
“- We don’t know what the fuck is going on. We are just here experiencing things.”
Jaron: I think, at this point, the things I want most is to be present with those who want to be present with me and continue to create and serve the community. When I was younger, these goals weren’t as clear to me. I felt like I was chasing something. I suppose I still am but it’s a different thing. One of the best feelings in the world is being present in something you enjoy. I want more of that. I want to create, thrive, and be of service.
QQ: That’s a profound shift in perspective. As you focus on being present and serving the community through your creativity, how do you envision this influencing the way you approach your work at Star Camp Creative Labs and in your personal projects? Also, can you share how this new focus on presence and community service has already started to manifest in your recent work?
Jaron: I mean, it already has. The Iridescent, which I dropped over a year ago, allowed me to prove to myself that I really can help others. With that project, I used all of the proceeds to buy a pallet of water for Soul Revival Inc., A non-profit I was working for at the time. Over a series of events, I ended up as director of the non-profit.
QQ: That’s a crazy leap. A non-profit director on top of everything else you have going on? How are you handling all of that?
Jaron. It has definitely been a humbling experience. I don’t think I knew exactly what I was taking on. It has been rewarding spirtuality but it can definitely get you down sometimes. There are so many people that need help out there and you can only do so much, ya know?
QQ: That must weigh on you.
Jaron: Sometimes, but then I’m reminded that life is life. We don’t know what the fuck is going on. We are just here experiencing things. Honestly, I need to learn how to be more selfish.
QQ: You don’t think you are selfish?
Jaron: Oh, I definitely am, but not in the “I want everything for myself” kind of way. More like, I want EVERYBODY to win and I can be greedy about that. It’s rare that I put that same amount of effort into myself.
QQ: That’s kind of depressing.
“-What we went through sucked…really bad.”
Jaron: Yeah, a little. There are a lot of walls and hurdles in my head. Success is a weird feeling to me because I’ve dealt with constant doubt from external sources. So when I do, it feels like validation but that’s a fleeting emotion.
QQ: You’ve talked about wanting everyone to win and dealing with your own doubts. In an industry that’s often all about competing and being the best, how do you handle that? Does focusing on projects like Star Camp Creative Labs, and delaying ‘Magenta’ and ‘Zenith,’ ever feel like you’re going against what the entertainment world expects from you? How do you stay true to what you believe in when there’s so much pressure to just look out for yourself?”
Jaron: Both Magenta and Zenith got delayed because the energy was off. I never want to be forced to create. It is one of the worst things you can do. One of my all-time favorite quotes is “Fill your cup first, then nourish others with the overflow.” My cup was empty, I was dealing with a battery of things all at once and it was impossible for me to really give these things the attention they deserved when it was needed elsewhere. I was feeling pressure from people I shouldn’t have felt pressure from and that didn’t feel right when these are my visions. I think, at the height of everything going on, the last thing I felt was pressure to look out for myself and that was a problem.
QQ: It’s clear that staying true to your creative energy is paramount for you. You mentioned dealing with a lot all at once and feeling pressure from unexpected sources. Can you shed some light on what was happening behind the scenes during this time? What were some of the challenges or events that led to this feeling of an ’empty cup,’ and how have they influenced your current focus and direction?
Jaron: Well, earlier this year, my wife and I dealt with massive medical issues in regard to trying to have a child. It led to a whirlwind of events that made me really appreciate life and cherish what we have. I fell in love all over again with her and I knew she needed a lot of love. We both did. What we went through sucked…really bad. One of the hardest parts of all of it was the fact that we kept it to ourselves for the most part. We didn’t share our grief with anyone besides our close friends and family. Things are still sort of fresh, we were expecting to have a child by the end of the year, but what’s interesting is how many others out there have dealt with similar things. It is reassuring in a way and it brought extra resilience to my resolve and ultimate vision. But healing is a process. This mixed with running a new business, shooting a film, creating an album with a comic attached, and whatever else going in my head, I knew that I was hitting a mental breaking point with no real release. I needed a reset.
QQ: What does a reset look like to you?
Jaron: This actually took me a second to figure out. As I was still processing events, I was numb. I felt a range of emotions but most notably, I felt hopeless. I knew that I needed to return back to my source, which is creating but I didn’t want to inject all of my recent shit into these big projects I had in the pipeline. I need something for myself and myself only.
QQ: So this led to the new project? Mental?
Jaron: Essentially. I was already writing new music at the time. In fact, one of the songs hinted at a new addition to the family. When I decided to create the project, I kept it in there. Part of the reason is because, for me, music is such a powerful timestamp. You can often recall where you were when you heard certain music. I didn’t want to change the energy of that time period, it’s important to me.
QQ: That’s a profound way to approach your art, using it as a timestamp for life’s experiences. With ‘Mental,’ as you channel these deeply personal moments into your music, how do you find the balance between sharing your personal story and creating something that resonates universally? Also, could you share a bit about how this project differs from your past work in terms of the creative process or the emotions you’re tapping into?
Jaron: The creative process is the most important thing to me, especially as I get older. It would be nice to have my music go viral and do crazy numbers on Spotify but, for me, it’s more about sharing these frequencies with the world and letting those who need them gravitate. Now this doesn’t mean I’m not going to promote my shit of course, but I’m even trying to treat that as an artistic process more than anything else.
End of part 1