JMSN, who’s real name is Christian Berishaj from Eastpoint, Michigan, learned to play the guitar and started writing at an early age. He’s provided vocals for some of your favorite Kendrick Lamar songs: Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe”, “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst”, “Real”; The Game’s “Pray”; Kaytranada’s “All We Do”; and much more. Speaking from a fan’s point of view, his albums Priscilla, JMSN (Blue Album), and recently It Is are some of my favorite bodies of work.
He’s currently on a 41-city tour promoting his new project It Is, which was released May 6, but the “Love & Pain” artist will be coming out with another album later this year. I caught up with him at a private event at the Soho House in NYC that led into an intimate live performance accompanied by his band, which was one of the best performances I’ve seen so far…(unfortunately no photography or film were allowed in the venue). Here’s what we talked about:
Interview by Holly Lewis
My first question is…I always ask people like who are you, like who is JMSN, how would you describe yourself?
Who am I? How would I describe myself…As a person or an artist?
As a person, as an artist, like how would you…you can say as an artist
As an artist?…free. it would be a good description of it. Just free. Free of…free to make whatever I want. Yeah, just a free artist…yeah.
I love that…ok, then also, cause I know that you were in a band…
…and you were also Christian TV…
So how did you get to this point? I know you’ve been doing music your whole life, but like how did you get to JMSN?
A lot of stuff…yeah, I mean, it was a lot of different situations came to a point where, you know, a breaking point, where I decided I wasn’t doing what I wanted to do. You know, and so I tried to do what I wanted to do…and that was JMSN. And I’m still trying to figure out exactly what it is that I want from JMSN, or what I want it to be, but at least I’m going in the right direction I think, and yeah. It was just an epiphany, a breaking point…it was a lot of things that led up to that, being dropped from labels, being broke, and all kinds of stuff that everybody goes through, and that was my epiphany was that I want to make music that I’m making now, cause that’s the only thing that makes me feel alright and good, so I did that.
And you’re like really soulful…
Well thank you (laughs)
Its like deep down soul…
Where is that soul coming from? Do you think its from growing up in Michigan?
Man, beats me (laughs) I have no idea…I have no idea…I don’t where that comes from, I just do it.
Well I love it…
Thank you (laughs)
Ok, so It Is, how was the process of this? How did the process with this, developing this go? Because I feel like comparing it to The Blue Album, the songs in that, to me, seem like I’m trying to get over a love, where as this, and you can correct me if I’m wrong, but this felt more like a “I’m over it”
Yeah, I mean it was, it was. It wasn’t always…its about love, but a different, like in the intro “I can die for love and be satisfied” its more about loving what I do, kind of being set in my ways about what I wanna be doing with my life, and I can die and be satisfied with how I carried myself and how I decided to do the things I wanted to do, like I do music because I love it, and that’s enough for me. I don’t have to be known, or whatever, but it was also a turning point because I was going through changes in my business stuff, business manager, manager, lawyer, booking agent…they all left me, so I was kind of out on my own, trying to regroup a foundation that could support me, and it was good. It was a blessing in disguise because I got people I want around me, better partners, I guess you can say. So it had to do with that. So it was a lot of “I’m over the other shit”, yeah for sure.
Okay awesome, glad I got that right (laughs)
Yeah yeah, for sure
And, in your videos that you have for this album, its super carefree and you’re dancing…
Is it just, when you want to do the videos, are you just, like I’m just going to do it my own way and just have fun?
Yeah, its like, I wanted to do them different from how I did the Blue album for sure, and I kind of wanted it to be like, kind of like the album, less thinking about it and more just doing it and letting the moment kind of drive the video….and me being me, and just let that energy translate.
Cause it looks like you’re having fun in all your videos…
Then, I’ve seen your periscope…one of the periscopes, you were dancing along to R. Kelly…
Oh yeah (laughs)
Is he, cause your manager was telling me that one of your inspirations, you love Prince. Is R. Kelly one of the people? Like who is your inspiration?
Oh yeah, of course, R. Kelly, Prince, they’re big inspirations.
Hell yeah, hell yeah..are you kidding me? I’ll listen to R. Kelly all night, lose my voice to that shit (laughs)
So the new album its coming out? How is it different from It Is?
I just feels like its more raw, and more carefree, even more free than I’ve been on previous ones, and it’s definitely different type of music then I’ve been making thus far.
I’m glad you’re excited
Last thing…weird fact about yourself?
Weird fact about myself?
I know, that’s always a hard question about people
I like interior design
Ok wow…wow that’s really cool, so you watch HGTV?
No I don’t have a TV (laughs), I just really like looking at stuff, and like in my own place, I’m constantly rearranging stuff and yeah. I get into that.
Wow, awesome, ok…
It’s another artistic outlet (laughs)
You can listen to It Is below and make sure you head to iTunes for your copy.