There is a current of old world tension and modern angst captured in the music of Messenger and that energy, as embodied in their debut radio single ‘Say It Again’, has got listeners enthralled. It’s time the world learned more about this intriguing soul group.
Some artists try to scale their way to the top of the music industry by personal flamboyance (or inscrutability). Others work the business like hardened politicians and hope that money and fame will redeem whatever compromises are made along the way. But a very few can do it by a golden amalgamation of originality, musicianship and talent. Messenger is such an group. Currently residing in Marina del Rey, California, Messenger has been fast attracting recognition and honors, and one recent critic’s account of their award-winning work probably explains why: ‘’Say it Again’ has that delicate dignity which remarks the best Marvin Gaye songs – Messenger has delivered a classic R&B cut worthy of inclusion in the genre’s canon.’ You can hear the authenticity in every chord and verse of their new soul single, which undoubtedly explains its rapid ascent up the charts. Independent reporter Lily Clark recently caught up with Messenger to talk about their history, musical influences and exciting plans for the future.
LILY: As artists on the rise, what is one thing you are most excited about and one thing you are most afraid of happening in your career?
MESSENGER: We’re excited to be able to create music again and even more excited to have the opportunity to reach people all over the world through social media. When it comes to us making the music, fear is not an option. But, when you put your heart and soul into creating song and your words, it’s when you send it out to people all over the world. That’s the real fear — Will they accept what you are saying. Will they accept you as an artist.
LILY: Your song ’Say It Again’ is receiving a positive listener response on radio. What was your initial reaction when you first heard your song playing on radio?
MESSENGER: (Johnny) We were absolutely ecstatic to get our music back out to fans who are always looking out for good music. Akedemia gave us an opportunity to showcase our song. We had a long time off from the music business, but seeing the song doing so well, it’s a validation to what we can do as artists. We are very happy to see the response to “Say It Again”.
LILY: What was the inspiration behind your debut radio single?
MESSENGER: (Johnny): How I write, the music normally comes first. It had a nice cha-cha easy listening groove. But it was the first line that made the song to me. “Another night of being alone” gave me the way in to the story of this guy wanting to get back what he had lost because of things he’s done wrong. He wants to hear her voice again, hear her words again that set him free. That was a universal message we all could relate to in some way.
LILY: It is often said that great art arises from difficult experience. Is there something in your life experience thus far that you would describe as the ‘catalyst’ or ‘fuel’ for your desire to create music?
MESSENGER: (Vic): It wasn’t a difficult experience for us to want to get back into playing music again. The catalyst for our re-emergence comes from us not wanting to give up our dreams. Watching others ahead of us like my father and other family members that played music before us gave us the fuel to recommit ourselves to something we’ve always loved. (Bob): I would agree with Vic. As brothers, we’ve experienced the highs and lows playing music and here we are back at it and the love and appreciation for this art form still energizes us. (Dino): Wanting to be cool, to be liked and even a rebel was always the fuel to get me going. (Johnny): What I think what really fuels us today is our desire to bring the Messenger sound to the forefront because in our past, we’ve always tried to emulate the “sound-of-the-day” to succeed. But now, out of that difficult time, we are creating and playing music WE think folks will respond to.
LILY: How would you characterize yourselves as artist/musicians? (Ex. Down-to-earth, serious, fun-loving, complicated…)
MESSENGER: (Johnny): I’m the dreamer. (Dino): I’m the architect. I plan our moves and keep the boat rowing in a singular direction for the group. (Bob): All business here. I tend to make sure we talk any and all business before a musical chord is struck. That’s why they call it show business. (Vic): I’m the alpha/omega of the group. I make sure we see ALL sides to an issue to get the very best solution in regards to Messenger. (Messenger): Speaking for Julio, our lead singer, he is a lover of all forms of entertainment — stage plays, live performing… He uses his voice to reach the unreachable, to make the listeners feel his pain, his joy when he sings.
LILY: What has your experience been like working with the other people on your team?
MESSENGER: Overall, it’s a great experience even when we get on each other’s nerves. We’ve been together long enough to show the respect in each other’s talents and shortcomings.
LILY: Did you come from a musical background? Are there other musicians in your family?
MESSENGER: (Johnny): I am the trailblazer in my family when it comes to anything musical. (Vic): My father was a guitar player who taught me to play. Bob and I have others in the family who are musically inclined which inspired us to want to get into music. (Dino): I just wanted to be cool.
LILY: What do you find most rewarding about being an artist? What do you find most challenging?
MESSENGER: (Dino): Being an artist, it means you have a chance to be accepted at your most creative. Makes you feel cool. (Vic): The challenge is getting the music out to your audience. With so many outlets in social media, finding your audience is daunting but not impossible if you are determined enough to work at it. (Bob): When you do work hard at getting the music out there, it can be very rewarding having the opportunity to reach as many people as possible to hear your music.
LILY: Who are your role models in music?
MESSENGER: (Johnny): There are the artists that move me. My musical tastes are very eclectic. It’s that music that makes me sing along when I’m not in the mood to sing or makes me want to dance when I really don’t have any dance moves to start with. (Dino): Dean Martin… He was cool. (Vic): from Earth, Wind and Fire to David Bowie, I like all kinds of music. (Bob): There is not a particular role model for me. I like all types of music.
LILY: Describe your best or most memorable performance.
MESSENGER: (Messenger): Believe it or not, our best performance is yet to come. Now, we have had some goodies in the band’s history. Our biggest blast from the past was playing at the Hollywood Palace opening for Masarati, an R&B group that was backed by Prince, who was in attendance that night. As Dino would say, that was cool.
LILY: What advice would you give to young, aspiring artists out there who are unsure and need guidance?
MESSENGER: (Johnny): If you can dream it, you can do it. (Vic): Try to be unique in whatever you do. Blaze your own trail. (Bob): I was given some advice — Young man, you should work at your craft to be the best you can be. That way, you will be able to succeed in whatever you do. The best satisfaction you can ever receive is the acknowledgment of your own talent. Some say that may be egoistical, I say it’s plain confidence.
LILY: What’s next for you as an artist? Is there a new single in the works? If so, what can you tell us about it?
MESSENGER: (Johnny): We just finished a ballad entitled, “If You Wait For Me”. Our guest lead vocalist is Shawn Kristin Moore (coincidentally, my daughter, following in dad’s footprints, with a superior singing voice). We also have other songs being worked on as we speak and hopefully we will be getting them out to our fans as soon as they are finished. (Messenger): Along with this song, we continue to push our production company, The MJB Project, where we are looking to produce or sell our songs to other artists.
LILY: That’s wonderful! Thank you so much for letting us get to know you a little better. We wish you the best of luck and continued success.