Meet 21-year old producer Messoins, the brain behind YouTube series #JourneyOfABeat
Music and storytelling: it's a match made in heaven for Arsène Rurangiza aka music producer Messoins. He makes the art of making beats look easy in his YouTube series #JourneyOfABeat. Messoins takes his viewers on a musical journey during which he explains step-by-step how he produced a certain beat. The digital music composer takes his beatmaking videos to the next level by inviting artists for each session. They write lyrics to his beats and perform the song live at the end of the video. Messoins manages to compress this whole process into easy-to-watch 5-minute videos. You'll be hearing more from this artist soon! Keep an eye on our Facebook page for weekly updates of #JourneyOfABeat.
For those who don’t know you yet: can you briefly introduce yourself?
I'm Messoins, 21 years old, born in Rwanda, raised in Belgium. I'm a music composer and producer. I started beatmaking four years ago and currently I’m putting all my energy in a show I created last year called #JourneyOfABeat, JOAB in short.
What is JOAB exactly?
It's a series of videos in which I explain what’s going through my mind when making a beat for a specific artist. At the end, there is a performance by the artist who wrote lyrics on it and recorded the full song, all that on the same day. The whole idea is to show the ‘behind the scenes’ of music production.
How long have you been doing the series?
It's close to 7 months now. I published the first video on the 24th of November 2017.
How did it all start? How did you get the idea to start JOAB?
Previous to Journey Of A Beat, I had been trying some other concepts that allowed me to share my work publicly. I noticed that sharing my work and having people who know and wait for your work give me positive pressure. It makes me more productive. That's why in March 2015, I started experimenting with YouTube series. One of the projects was ‘Against The Clock’. The concept was making a beat in 10 minutes. What was great about it was that I had no time to overthink. The first idea that pops up must be exploited to the maximum. That way of working and thinking helped me a lot, I don't discriminate ideas, anything could lead to great musical material.
"Some people complain because trap beats don't have complex harmonies or rhythms, but it’s simply a different musical experience."
When I was making the ‘Against The Clock’ videos, sometimes people would ask me if I could explain my process more rather than just showing what I'm doing. I kept that idea in mind until I had a session with a rapper and friend of mine, Deekay. We weren't supposed to make music that day, but the same morning I had made a beat I was completely in love with. Deekay heard it, started writing on the spot and in the heat of the moment we got the idea of making a weekly web series. I wanted to show the process of having an abstract idea, making a composition out of it, then writing a song on the beat, recording it and a live performance of the whole song at the end. On that day, ‘Journey Of A Beat’ was born.
What beatmakers inspire you most and how do they inspire you?
A lot of beatmakers and producers inspire me. When it comes to overall skills and career, Pharrell Williams is my big inspiration. I fell in love with music production watching his studio sessions with Natasha Ramos for the song ‘Midnight Hour’. I also really like the video where Jay-Z and Timbaland are in the studio and Timbo plays the beat of what will become the song ‘Dirt off your shoulders’. Jay-Z's reaction is just epic.
Frank Dukes, because his trap samples are all over the hip-hop industry in the US. Some people complain because trap beats don't have complex harmonies or rhythms, but it’s simply a different musical experience. In music like trap, sound designing is the complexity behind the apparent simplicity. The art of sound design is young in music history so people don't necessarily put it in the creative process. The genius of people like Frank Dukes, is their ability to create sounds that are unique in color, yet simple.
"I don't discriminate ideas, anything could lead to great musical material"
Do you have certain ‘criteria’ when it comes to selecting artists for your videos?
It's mainly a matter of taste, I have to enjoy what he or she previously did musically. Knowing that we only have one day to write and record a song, I look for artists who write their lyrics themselves and have a broad musical universe.
Is JOAB a one-man company or are there other people who help you?
No, and I'm glad you asked. I handle the creative side, but my brothers help me staying in track and taking JOAB where I want it to be. One of them is in marketing, so he helps me with that. The other one helps me with the overall vision and direction of the show and my career.
Do you sing yourself, too? Or do you stick to producing beats only?
I started as a rapper from the age of 12 to 18, I even was in a group named Jockers. We made 2 mixtapes together, but at a certain point I wanted to make a professional solo project. I wanted beats of which I had the right to use and commercialize, but couldn't find any producer nearby. So the reason I tried beatmaking in the first place was for my own project as a rapper. I enjoyed it so much that few years later I was only producing beats. I still write lyrics for other artist and for myself as well. Except when I’m writing for my own songs, the lyrics always become melodies for my beats.
Is JOAB a full-time job or are you doing other projects, work or studies as well?
Currently, JOAB is a side project. I'm at the end of my bachelor degree in Acousmatic Music Composition.
What would you like JOAB to be in the future? Do you want to keep working like you’re doing now or would you like for it to become something bigger?
Bigger not necessarily, but I'd like it to be appreciated by as many people as possible. Sometimes becoming bigger involves changes in the core concept and values. I think what made JOAB appeal to so many people is the fact that it's an attempt to make something usually inaccessible more reachable. The process of music composition becomes understandable and enjoyable through the art of storytelling. I'd like to be a small giant. By that I mean focusing on a core vision and value, but aiming big.
I like sharing the entire process of music production with people. I want to show the journey of a small and abstract idea becoming a full song that touches hearts and souls. Recently, I saw behind the scenes videos of Games of Thrones, and it's amazing to see how many people are involved in the creation of a single episode. All of them are pushing the limits of what's been done in their own field. I think their stories need to be told as well. It would only make watching the series more enjoyable.
"The music scene is crazy in Flanders. I think great things can come out of more collaborations with the two sides of Belgium"
Which artists would you like to invite for your future videos?
So many, I don't know where to start. There are the obvious choices like ISHA, Hamza, Stromae, Krisy, G.A.N and more personal choices like Darrel Cole, Coely, Ico, Ronnie Flex, Broederliefde, Cho, TheColorGrey and many more. I've worked with artists from Wallonia, Brussels, and not enough from Flanders. The music scene is crazy over there and, in general, I think great things can come out of more collaborations with the two sides of Belgium.
If you had to choose: who is the most underrated artist who performed at JOAB, according to you?
I'd say, Nephtys (Caro Hakim). She was in the 8th episode of Journey Of A Beat. First time I saw her, she was performing at an event called ‘Open Soul’, organized by Alohanews. Her voice and performance were mind-blowing and she has an incredible work ethic! She's currently working on her new project, so I guess people will hear about her pretty soon.
What did you learn from JOAB?
I came to realize that people come from as far as Brussels, Antwerp and Leuven, to perform in my small room in a remote place somewhere in the city of Ghlin. And when they are recording, I sometimes have to tell my brothers to stop showering because the water heater makes too much noise. And I'm like: “Whoa, people really come from that far to make music in these conditions.”