Interview with Justin HarlanHey, thanks for being willing to do the interview even though I didn’t give your EP a great review. Sometimes people shy away from sites that aren’t super favorable towards them.
Let’s start with some introductions. Tell us a bit about who you are,
both as a person and an artist.
Well, first off I must say, I see myself as an artist not far from myself as a person and bring a lot of myself into the music, but I will try to divide myself into two parts in this question. As a person I am a lively and outgoing person who want to spread as much joy around me, spreading the message of respect and love, but I am also a deep philosopher and loves hourly discussions with my friends around life itself and the meaning about it, so sometimes I feel like a kind of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde character, but not Good vs. evil, but more like living life in two different worlds, the mask I put on at work, and the mask I take off with friends, but they are still both 100 percent me.
As an artist I am more of a whole person, this is where my thoughts come out, where I don’t adjust to my surroundings, I kind of create my own Utopia or reality if you will in my lyrics and in my songs. You might say its where I put my theories into practice, but at the same time I am never satisfied with the utopia I create, and I always look for new ways to evolve as an artist, to make my sound better, to make my lyrics hit harder and to make people reflect better over my lyrics. Since the Paradigm of Paradigms EP I have started writing more on two different levels, that the words will give a different message reading them than when they are performed by me, It adds an extra crisp to hear them performed, but alone as lyrics they give the reader the same fundament as the listeners to reflect over my message.
Great, thanks. As you can tell from the review I wrote, your sound is not my cup of tea, however I greatly respect how you are doing your own thing. Breaking conventions of modern hip hop is typically a very admirable thing. Tell me and my readers a bit about your influences.
Yes, And I thank you for your honesty in your review, it gives me so much more than a positive feedback, and you gave me a lot to build upon as well in that review. Back to the question itself, My Influences comes from so many places, it comes from the old progressive rock music, where the singers, where more of masters of ceremony characters inside a composition, and an instrument of itself more than a lead singer, and that made them write lyrics much more lyrical an dense than many other lead singers in other genres. And that inspired me to start writing lyrics, taking people into that magical place you create is an amazing feeling. I also have a bachelor degree in Drama and Theatre, so the theatrical aspect has inspired me a lot in performing my music, and is something I am working on all the time. And off course the style of hip-hop, the rap aspect of it inspired me to find my outlet, it gave me an opportunity to perform my lyrics in a way that I could learn to master, I was instantly hooked in the mid 90´s on the style the had taken the sub areas of Norway by storm 10 years earlier with the movie Beat Street. So those three things combined is my influence that I put into my music, off course combined with my life philosophy.
Interesting, so let’s move away from music for a minute. I wanted to talk about your moniker, MesAyah. What’s the deal?
It started out as the thought, I have to do something with my extreme Norwegian name and make it interesting, make it almost divine, and I played around with all different kind of arrangement and landed on if I take the initials in my first and last name and combine that with my middle name Ajer, that will sound out ESAYAH in English, I then thought, if I combine that with the greatness of Hip-hop, how people use BIG (Big Pun, B.I.G) and other alterations of that to say, I am the greatest in hip-hop, I thought, let me take that one step further, I am going to call myself MesAyah. Then the bits and pieces in my life philosophy and what I wanted to preach as an artist kind of glued together, I also think that every rapper, and every artist is in someway a prophet of their own belief, at least the true artists, they create as I mentioned, their own world in their lyrics, or in their paintings, or poems for that matter, then you serve the viewer or the listener an almost divine feeling when the art hits you. I have taken many hits while listening to music through the years, and that feeling is just as much an awakening as any other awakenings. Therefore I felt the name MesAyah was the only name I could choose, and I have never looked back thinking: I should have chosen a different name.
Do you think people may find it a bit arrogant or even blasphemous to call yourself MesAyah?
Of course I do, but only if they don’t check out my music and who I really am. If they see my name and think that I put myself in the role of Christ, then I would look arrogant and blasphemous, but I have never claimed that role, or ever attempted to do so either.
Well, I’m by no mean someone who finds you arrogant or blasphemous, but I am a Believer in Christ as the Messiah. Where do you stand on faith, religion, and spirituality?
Thank you Justin, and to answer that question I can start by saying, I was raised up as a protestant, but I am not anymore, I have tried, but there is nothing in me that is able to add things up to make sense in my mind, but I respect those who are able to. So I don’t have any religion I follow, I agree with a lot of the ethics, but I don’t agree with any of the written word and rules, dogmas if you will and just as much dividing people into we belive therefore are we better than those who don´t, but I am sure we can agree on a lot of the aspects around life and the belief you have. But when we put that aside I am absolutely spiritual, I believe there is something, a force if you will ,that we cannot control, we have something that is greater than mankind. I like to call it the Inner truth or Inner God, just to put a name to it so people can reflect on it. That inner God, is your own true words and feeling, the voice saying, this is what is right, this is wrong when you do something, or this is what I am going to do with my life, I don’t know why, but it just feels right, I don’t care what others think or if they claim its wrong or not acceptable. It is my truth, my destiny and what I am suppose to do no matter what, and if you follow that feeling, you will in general be a happy person on a much deeper level.
Thanks. I always like to ask folks about their beliefs because I think it has a strong correlation with their art. Do you think your take on
spirituality and faith influences your art, and how so?
I can only say this: Look back at my answer in the last question. This is what I write about, this is what I perform. I deliver my own truth, what is right for me, and then my listeners, fans and surroundings may take that in and reflect over it, but not necessarily take it as the truth, they have to find their own, it has never been my intention to get my listeners to adapt to my beliefs, I am only sharing mine. So my spirituality has off course an influence on my music, when it comes to lyrics, as a performance, I will say it has none.
One of the other things I like to talk about besides music and faith on my website is beer. Do you imbibe? If so, any favorites to share?
I am a Beer lover; I love both dark and light beer so I would love to make some recommendations.
Dark beer: John Smith, Guinness and Newcastle
Light beer: Stella(Italian), Frydenlund (Norwegian) and good old Carlsberg Green.
Well, let’s veer on back to the music before we wrap up. Tell us the concept of this new EP.
First of all I must say this, Paradise of Paradigms is the darkest release I have made so far, It started out as a project that I wanted to share only with my fans, because of just that, but it developed into being so much more after a while so I chose to share it with the rest of the world as well. The concept of the entire EP is all the changes that we have seen in the world the last decade, I feel that we are on the verge of something, it feels like we break barriers everyday as a human race, and mother earth responds back in her way, I wanted to reflect over what kind of changes we see on a human mind and spirit level (“Earthmovers”), on the universal level (“Alien Encounters”) The possible hindrance for a change (‘Fences’) and the possible outcome (‘Paradise”). So there is a lot to grasp upon, but its delivered in a dark dark package.
While it’s not my thing musically, I totally vibe with what you are trying to be about. I hope we can keep in touch and I can explore more of what MesAyah has to offer. Speaking of, what’s in store for
you coming up?
I hope so to Justin, I really enjoy what you are doing, you give honest feedbacks and great reviews of all genres of music and that is something I respect deeply. And there is more to my music than Paradise of Paradigms as well, You can check out my singles “Life of a Manikin”, “Perfect World” or my release, Life in Soulitiude and find a different vibe as well, or you can sit and wait for what is coming, because I am currently in the making of my first full-lengthalbum; it will be a combined album and book. It has the working title “I for an I and the truth for the truth” and a planned release is in a year; I have a lot of work ahead of me, cause I am seeking perfection.
Well, thanks again for the interview, got any final words for the readers?
Stay true to yourself and your own feelings; believe in yourself and your thoughts. And for inspiration go and check my music at: www.mesayah.com. Also check out my fellow companions in the Norwegian Indie label Bonsaiety records: www.bonsaiety.com
Interview with Essential PopArtist Interview – MesAyah
October 23, 2011 By Essential Pop
MesAyah is a rapper and Hip-Hop artist from Oslo, Norway. When we first heard MesAyah’s music we were really keen to interview him on Essential Pop so that we could share his experience and tracks with you. Read on to find out about what MesAyah’s musical background is, who inspires him and what he’s currently working on.
Q: If you could use a tagline of less than 20 words to describe your music and who you are what would it be?
“Nas meets Peter Gabriel for conversations about life, I make Hip progressive music combined with improv hop illutions”
Q: What is your musical background?
I started rapping back in 05´, had been doing a lot of different styles of poetry up until then, but wanted to evolve my written style into performances instead. So I started up slowly building my name from scratch, and now I find myself in 2011 with four releases up my sleeve, three EP´s and a mixtape. The latest one a Paradise of Paradigms is maybe the most experimental release I´ve had so far, but at the same the most musical one as well. That release is a beginning of the path I am taking now, to create experimental, lyrical music with melodies and harmonies that make the listener wanting to crave more of it.
Q: How was 2010 for you?
When I look back at 2010 I realize that I have accomplished a lot more than I first thought. It felt like a really dry year for me when it came to creating music. But looking at it now it´s the year where a lot of my dreams came through. It just happened in portions with a lot of breaks in between so 2010 and then seen as a whole was amazing. To begin with I experienced something that I didn’t think was possible for me yet, I was able to get over to The U.S and play live, not only on one stage, but on two different stages in Fort Collins, Colorado, one of them an half hour long jamming session with a huge Jazz-ensemble, and the other one at the music store Café. I can´t wait to get back to America and play some more live-gigs. My second big dream coming through was the making of my first music video for the track, Perfect World. This track is about a girl being abused sexually by her father and friends, and the video ended up being broadcasted on TV early 2011 and is also a part of “The Perfect World Fundraiser” where I have started collecting money for the Norwegian organization SMI ( Supportcenter against Incest) You can read more about it on my website. http://www.mesayah.com.
And last off course the process and making of the latest EP “a paradise of paradigms” which was a collaboration with the Norwegian producer Paul Bernard from Bergen Norway.
Q: Who inspires you musically?
I have a lot of inspiration, and not just in the Hip-hop genre, sometimes I feel more inspired from other genres like Progressive rock, grunge and classical music than hip-hop. But to mentions some artist I have to mention these; Sage francis because he has created a genre of his own inside the Hip-Hop genre, bringing in such a variety into his music, then it´s Peter Gabriel for writing amazing lyrics and being a role-model for me when it comes to write as much as you can into only one sentence by writing on different levels. Phil Collins has been a inspiration for me when it comes to the artistic aspect of being and artist, the entertainer and master of ceremony in one. I must also mention Atmosphere, B.Dolan, Aesop Rock, Brother Ali, P.O.S and The Canadian rapper Shad
Q: Is there anyone you would like to collaborate or gig with?
Yes, my favorite collaboration track would be a mash-up Track with MesAyah featuring Sage Francis, Aesop Rock, Slug and Brother Ali called The journey of Li(f)e vs Death produced by El-P using samples from Bo Hansson – Lord of the Rings (1976).
When it comes to who I want to do a gig with, it would be Rhymesayers new wonderkid Grieves because we match really well when it comes to the same vibe in our music.
Q: What is your creative process for creating a track?
My creative process starts with finding my message, what do I want to write about and then let my producers now that this is what I am looking for. Then I start to freewrite to the topic to see what comes out at first and then I start building on that. Then I hopefully receive the beat from one of my producers and a can start building it, first I build it up with pure lyrics, writing on two different levels, I want my lyrics to be just as good written as they are performed, I want to give my listeners more than just the listen, If they find my rhymebook somewhere or if I have misplaced some notes of mine, they will be able to feel what I am saying without me saying it as well. When I have the lyrics down, I start working on the artistic parts of it, how to perform it, off course it is a little bit of this in the writing process as well, but I don´t want to ruin my flow of words by concentrating on to much at once. So that is basically how I create my tracks, some take forever to create and some feel like they just fall into your lap.
Q: What’s more important, melody or lyrics?
I don´t think any of them can survive without each other, but it also depends on what kind of music you make. But basically it comes down to this. You can have killer lyrics but without the melody and the ability to perform them well, people will not listen to it. And you can have the sickest melody in the world, but if you don´t have anything to say, people will not listen to it for more than maybe a couple of weeks at best, and then your song is forgotten forever.
Q: Where are you based?
I am based in Oslo, Norway
Q: What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on my first full-length album, It has the Work title “I for an I and the truth for the truth” and will be a combined album and book. I can´t revile to much, but it will change the genre of hip-hop and combine different genres together. I am working on releasing it Spring/summer 2012. Other than that I am trying to show up regularly in features with other artists through 2011, currently with The up and coming rappers of Philly Moves from Ottawa.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to let our readers know about?
I want you all to know that you are great, every single one of you. You all have the ability to be free in mind and spirit. You are your own true God with the ability to create the life you want for yourself no matter what life you want to live. You are not dependent on anyone to do so. If you want something, you will achieve it, just believe in yourself and your own abilities.
“Freedom is not to be free, freedom is something everyone else tells you to achieve, to be free is something you are from the moment you breathe”.
Editor’s Note: MesAyah moulds profound lyrics with catchy hip-hop beats. Definitely one of Essential Pop’s artists to watch for 2011 and beyond.
If you’d like to learn more about or contact MesAyah just follow the links below: