Interview with Meskerem Mees
A little more about Mees
We already knew Meskerem Mees from MOMO Create & Perform: last year she and Utrecht singer-songwriter Spinvis met up for the first time in Ghent and took a musical walk around the city. At the time, we considered her a well-kept secret, but life is running fast for the Belgian singer-songwriter who is now stepping on big stages in Europe. We wanted to catch up, so we visited her sold-out show at EKKO (Utrecht): in-between a few hands of UNO, we talked about her creative process.
Meskerem Mees is a lively and vibrant artist, with a very clear vision of her creativity and her goals. Even though the lyrics, and the themes behind them, have a special importance for her music, she states she always starts writing songs starting from a melody: “Writing music is, not always but often, a therapeutic thing. I always write when I’m on an emotional state where there’s something on my chest or on my mind that I need to get off. In that moment I find it very hard to find words to describe it and therefore I compose a melody or a chord progression that represent the way I’m feeling, because it’s more abstract and not as direct as lyrics can be”.
Lyrics come afterwards, leading the stories to a new direction as a filter between personal experiences and songs, which are indeed tales, but not directly linked to any event that happened in her personal life.
“A good song is balancing your personal feeling and emotions, and of course you have to be honest, but leave room for the listener to interpret and adapt it to their own personal life. Otherwise there’s no point in them listening to your struggles all the time. It’s my personal perspective, how does that relate to the world’s perspective on these types of emotions? Because at the end of the day we are all humans and even if these kinds of experiences are very unique, we all go through the same things in life”.
Her inspiration came especially from musicians she discovered growing up, through her dad’s music library: classic artists like Bob Dylan or Randy Newman who “understood the meaning of life, as in: there is no meaning”. She was inspired by the way these singer-songwriters could translate their thoughts into something very intelligent and meaningful. So, she experimented her own way of turning her overthinking into something that’s less daunting, in order to craft it into witty song, because life becomes more bearable.
The songs from Meskerem Mees’ acclaimed debut album Julius were written in the past years without any real plan of playing them in public, but now that her career is (really) kicking off, and that she finds herself in front of big audiences, things are turning around: “now the song-writing has a bigger purpose I feel, and my personal attitude has changed”. Furthermore, now that there’s producers and other musicians involved, she is getting inspired by other people’s way of making music and influenced by their talent and personality.
During her show at EKKO she performed some new creations, including a unplugged-grunge cover of Let it Be and the original poem Dandelion (sung a cappella). We’re longing to discover more previews of her work during her show at Arminius for MOMO Festival.
Interview: Luca Dattisi
Photos: Aviva Bing
Hosted by: EKKO
Meskerem Mees will perform at MOMO Festival 22 on Friday, 22 April, along with Gino-Cochise, S10, Innerwoud and many more.