JMSN, STRAIGHT UP.

Posted by on Aug 26, 2015 in Stories | No Comments
JMSN, STRAIGHT UP.
shot with Impossible SX70 B&W 2.0 Film

Very excited to introduce you to this more than interesting singer, songwriter and producer going by the name of Christian Berishaj, formerly known in a past musical life as ‘Snowwhite’ from Love Arcade (his first band) and then later as Christian TV, but currently finding his way on a road to world recognition as JMSN

Christian learned how to produce, play instruments, and learn to master music from scratch, a skill he has been working on mastering ever since he started messing around with the guitar around the age of twelve. He quickly started to release his own songs and got drawn into the mess that is called the music industry at a very young age. He was signed to labels before, so he experienced the ins and outs of the music industry quickly enough to leave it all behind and start his own label called White Room Records.

Under his own label he released his debut album Priscilla, followed up by Pllaje not much later. In the process of expanding his personal repertoire, he ended up collaborating with many different profiles in music, such as Ab-Soul, Sango, Kendrick Lamar, and The Game to name a few.

I’m definitely familiar the most with his latest release called ‘The Blue Album’, with Streetsweeper’,Bout It‘, Addicted’, ‘Waves’ and ‘Ocean as personal highlights.

However… ‘Ends’ (Money) is probably my absolute favorite. It’s basically the most melancholic, trippy and honest song about money out there right now. I mean, that song takes you on a whole musical money trip. It’s a really dope track the way it’s build up and it really spoke to me.  The general body of work on The Blue Album is nicely coherent and has an overall consistent vibe as an album. It’s smooth, funky, soothing, surprising and even super sexy at times. I experienced it works great during a gloomy day at the office or on the road to wherever you need to go. It really sparks your visualisation while listening to it.

‘This negative thing happened, but it’s going to be alright,’ is how JMSN describes his latest work with ‘The Blue Album’ and I can see what he means with that statement. The album feels emotionally gloomy but comforting and hopeful at the same time.

I réally like JSMN his work because it’s extremely atmospheric, his lyrics are simple but real but straight up enough to get the core message. I also appreciate how he ends his songs with an ear catching outro that is different in tempo or vibe from the original song which keeps the listening experience as an album interesting.

JMSN is really in control of almost every aspect of his music, whether it’s production, vocals, instruments, artwork, distribution, merchandise, press, you name it. Christian learned plenty about the music industry pitfalls from his former lives lived in the music industry and you feel in his musical choices he is determined to do it his way this time, straight up.

JMSN’s videos are definitely the proof of that. He mostly works them out with friends and they do whatever feels right. Who needs a Red Dragon anyway? 🙂

Exhibits:

With the release of ‘The Blue Album’ and a body of work behind him , JMSN finally got the ears and attention on a global scale with more overseas touring as a result.

This is the story behind the Polaroid.

I was actually playing JMSN’s music without really being aware that he was a legit solo artist who’s been in the music industry for quite some time.  He made his way on my 22tracks list a couple of times via features from Sango and Kaytranada where the vocals always stood out for me, probably the main reason why they ended up in the list in the first place, but for some reason I didn’t find the time to really dig into the man behind those same vocals.

Only a few months back, I received a very laid back mail from JMSN’s people asking me if I couldn’t stop by any time soon to do a feature about JMSN because Christian really loved A Polaroid Story.  They obviously didn’t realise I was an ocean and a couple of thousand miles away from them so I explained his people I was based in little Belgium, Europe and we then quickly made a deal to meet up the minute JMSN’s tour embarked for Europe.

And so it happened, somewhere in last April I ended up meeting Christian before his show. Christian is a super laid back and normal dude. He was wearing a somewhat dirty white T-shirt, some shorts and ditto dirty white sneakers. Fashion game on zero fucks given, something I appreciate more and more with artists these days. So we sat down, got to know each other a bit better and then went in for a little Q&A that ended up in a very fun Polaroid session.

Christian preferred to have the interview written and not documented on video, but we were free to film anything else so I’m happy to share this additional APS video document where you can see a little glimpse of my time with JMSN and some concert snippets.

Exhibit:

WATCH IN HD – Shot with SonyA7S

JMSN is extremely good live! I was blessed to see him the first time in the tiniest little venue at Trix, Antwerp, with only a couple of dozen people attending the show. As you can see in the video document, JMSN, who came across slightly shy and a bit withdrawn , went straight for that stage; focused, full confidence and gun blazing, simply killing his first impression.

His vocals are crystal clear and although his sound on his album is overall mellow; his show is actually super funky, supported by energetic drums and guitars. His whole performance came across very personal, soulful and real. At least, that is how it felt to me.

It was a very fun process to take the Polaroids with JMSN. The situations or the locations that I find myself in while doing APS mostly don’t really allow a lot of freedom nor playing around, but JSMN was really down for whatever, so I suggested to work something out based upon his album imagery instead of going for the ‘pretty shots’ and just try to do something weird but interesting. I actually really wanted him to take his shirt off, because he has a really interesting set of religious tattoos on his body that would turn out great on Polaroid, but the cold environment of the backstage simply didn’t lead to taking off any shirts. LOL

Exhibits:

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I leave you with a written Q&A accompanied by some shots taken by APS household photographer Daniil Lavrovski. 

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OUNI

So let’s talk about your tour… How are things going so far? This is your first big European tour right? What have been your highlights in Europe so far?

JMSN

Yeah, yeah. First one ever. It’s the first time JMSN’s ever played shows outside of the US… well I guess we played Canada, but yeah it’s… We’ve talked about expectations. I mean I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t have… My expectations are always zero but there’s still expecting zero. You know what I mean? It’s not like I don’t have any expectations, I have zero expectations so when I go in…  I really think nobody is gonna come to the show. [laughs] You know what I mean? So I’m always surprised when people do. It’s just weird to me that like, I’m so far away from everything that I know and people somehow are coming out. I’m like “how did you even know that I was gonna be here and why are you…?”  [laughs] Man, every show is a highlight and I know it’s like boring to say but every show is a highlight. There hasn’t been a bad show because I’m just surprised anybody’s coming and anybody cares, it’s crazy…! You know… it’s trippy! 

OUNI

Can you explain me what White Room Records is all about?

JMSN

White Room Records… I mean for me it started out as just a platform to put myself out; JMSN. And now it’s turning into something that I wanted it to be, which is  just a good hub for music , as all indie labels and other labels start out as.  I mean … I just wanna put out some quality good music so it could be a place where you can come to get good music, there’s a quality control about it. And you know, if you come into White Room Records… you gonna get some good stuff,  I hope. So I’m working on that and hopefully it works out….It will!  [laughs]

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OUNI

It seems like you’ve been in this game for a long, long time; two labels… Looking back, there are probably a lot of lessons you’ve learned. What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned since you’re in this music game, this music industry?

JMSN

To be genuine… and to listen to yourself a lot more than you think you should. You know what I mean? You should think about your stuff. It’s not like I’m saying you to just go out and do whatever the fuck you want, or shit on everybody. Just be true to yourself. That réally is the most important thing; to be genuine, because especially nowadays, I feel like people can see through that shit if you are not.  The people, listeners aren’t dumb, you know what I mean?  When I listen to something I’d like to say that I’m not dumb even though I’m pretty dumbed out when I’m listening to stuff sometimes.  That’s probably why my lyrics are fairly simple, simple but at the same time… It’s “Simple” as in the way of the language is simple. Simple vocabulary, but you’re saying so much within those things. I like to do that because when I listen to something it’s less about the words and more about the thought and understanding that thought. Why try to complicate that? So I’m about the less complication the better…just more straight forward.

OUNI

I think… production wise you already put so much sentiment and intensity, that complicated lyrics are maybe not always necessary…?

JMSN

Yeah, right? For real, I feel you! [laughs]

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OUNI

What does fame mean to you? Is it important for you?

JMSN

No. I don’t care. I don’t even think about it, you know what I mean? To me it’s… I know it’s kind of something that comes with what you get past a certain point doing music you know, there’s probably inevitably still fame that comes with it but… I won’t believe it until I experience it because, I feel like you make what it is.  I don’t approach anybody with any kind of separation, at least I don’t try to. That’s when you try to get deeper into “do you want to be an entertainer or do you wanna be an artist?”  I always want to be an artist, I don’t wanna be just… a rat in a wheel.

OUNI

What are you looking for when you produce?  Do you start from a certain angle?

JMSN

Man, it’s different every time…well it’s purely just like riding the wave in the rhythm of things and keeping a rhythm. I feel like it’s the same as watching a movie, to where there’s a rhythm about it . The main thing I try to do when I produce a song or write a song is keep that flow and that rhythm of things. I never want it to be stagnated energy wise if that makes sense.  It’s always gotta take me somewhere and I have to ride the wave.

OUNI

What’s your favorite track from ‘The Blue Album’?

JMSN

‘My Way’ would probably be my favorite.  Just because of the lyric content wise I feel like it kind of encompasses the mind state I was in making that album. That album for me was kind of a statement  that you can not put me in a box. Even though people will compare me to whatever; Justin Timberlake or The Weeknd or …

OUNI

Can you tell me something about your collab album with Ab-Soul, Unit 6? Is it ever going to come out? What is it like and how would you describe it to me?

JMSN

It’ll come out, it’s just not coming out right now, but…I would just describe it as a moment in time captured. It was… an experiment. We didn’t go in like it’s gonna be about thìs. Or; we need thìs type of song and thìs type of song, we just kind of did it. It doesn’t have to do with anything of our separate things. It’s its own entity.  I don’t know, I always had to prove that… especially with old shit, I have to prove that I’ve gotten better.  So until I’ve done that to where I’m happy with where I’m at then I’ll be happy with putting some more shit out, because one thing that we’ve talked about is that we don’t wanna touch it when we put it out. We wanna put it out as; this is that old tape that you guys missed and we didn’t touch it. But me being me, I’ll be like; wow now that I’m listening to it… there’s a million things wrong with this and I wanna redo that… so I feel I need to get past that point of my life to be like; let’s put this out. 

OUNI

How did your Kaytranada collab happened?

JMSN

It’s one of my favorite features that I’ve ever done, I mean song wise. It’s one of my favourite songs that I’ve been a feature on… It just happened. I was really into what he was doing. I think he maybe had like two or three remixes out and I hit him up and I was like “would you do a remix of a JMSN track? “ And he was like “yeah if you’ll sing on a song?” and I was like “yeah, hell yeah!!  I’ll sing on a song!”. So I sang on the song and he did a remix and you know the song turned out really good and people liked it.

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OUNI 

Can you tell me a bit about the work you did on Good Kid, M.A.A.D City?

JMSN

They approached me first with ‘Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe’ and it was like; “We’re trying to redo these strings and I was wondering if you could put some vocal stuff on it?” and I just put some vocal stuff on it, then I was like pitching my vocals and stuff. Kendrick was on tour at the time, so when he got off tour we went and did some other songs over. I think it was at Interscope Studio , so they were working super hard on the music and were working in three different rooms, so I was going from this room doing strings and then do vocals for another song in another room that they were working on. It was cool though. It was a very cool experience.

OUNI 

I noticed in press coverage they now refer you as the “go-to vocalist” from Kendrick Lamar?

JMSN

It’s an American thing… They have to find the one thing to… It’s great to be associated with that but I feel people take one thing…, especially in America, it’s like somebody has to co-sign you or you’re not cool. You know what I mean? So people are trying to latch on to that as being my co-sign but I never… I don’t want that to be my co-sign, I don’t want anybody to be my co-sign, I just wanna be my own person. That’s why … I mean a lot of people ask me about it in interviews.  But I’m not going on and broadcasting that stuff at all. Because that’s hìs album, he spent a lot of time and energy on that and he killed it. That’s not my way, so it was awesome to be a part of that but I’m working on my stuff more. 

OUNI

What are you currently listening to?

JMSN

I’m currently listening to old Motown stuff. Marvin Gaye and Donny Hathaway, Roberta Flack, stuff like that…

OUNI

What artist sculpted you the most growing up?

JMSN

I would say Prince is a big one for sure.  I feel like I got my ‘not giving a fuck attitude’ from that. You know, song and music wise; taking chances…

OUNI

What artist should I portray next on apolaroidstory.com according to you?

JMSN

Denai Moore

OUNI

If I say Belgium what three words pop in your head? (Now!)

JMSN

Waffles, Antwerp and Dutch. (Laughs)

OUNI

Yes correct!

JMSN

Alright…I got it right!! (Laughs)

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It was an extremely nice experience to work on this with JMSN. It’s always more enriching when an artist really makes the time and effort to work on APS, and I think it shows in this feature.

Listening to JMSN actually feels like drinking whiskey: soothing like honey, yet slightly burning in the chest. If you are ever in need of some ear MDMA that gets your mind drunk, JMSN is your guy.

Keep an eye on him and definitely catch him perform live if he is in your area. He is worth every penny.

Thanks for reading… (glad to be back)

Love,

OUNI

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