Messiah'el Bey - "Music has lost much of its freedom. Music is dying in front of our eyes." - Stereo Stickman

Messiah’el Bey “Music has lost much of its freedom. Music is dying in front of our eyes.”


Following the release of the brand new album Jazz Spells Fame, Stickman writer and representative Chris Porter caught up with creative force Messiah’el Bey, to dig a little deeper into the project and what it took to bring it to life. Here’s the conversation in full.

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Jazz Spells Fame is another incredible melting pot of sounds and influences. How long does a project like this take to pull together?

It took a little time, a few months of serious recording. During the time that I was making my solo debut album The Nuyorican Jazz Experience, I discovered my sound. If you listen to my first solo album, it is a mashup of tracks recorded with live musicians and other tracks were programmed with synth pads, and etc. Moving forward it was this energy of live instrumentation that I wanted to portray for the Jazz Spells Fame album.

But to answer your question, it took about 15 months to complete with one exception. The track Frida Kahlo’s Unfinished Song is a title that was intended for my first solo album. I was hesitant to put it out. Initially, I felt the track could use a little more work, which never happened. Sometimes there is a beauty in simplicity.

Mixing something like this must be a Herculean task – do you live with multiple iterations of tracks before you decide on a finished version, or does your vision lead you straight to it?

Usually it is the latter. My vision leads to the result in most cases. Interestingly, many of the tracks on the album took a lot of tracking and I often mix just as long as it took to record the music, if not longer.

At times, I will even get up at 2:00 AM just to tweak a snare drum or a piano arrangement. Once I can hear the voice of the instruments singing or rapping in relation to everything else that is going on, then there is some progress. When I am mixing it is important that everyone can hear what the instruments are saying.

Jazz traditionally allows plenty of headroom for improvisation – how much space is there for improvisation within your writing process?

Improvisation can take many forms in the music that I compose. It can take the listener to places that they have never been before.  Jazz Spells Fame is a concept album that is about getting the music back. It’s a true story.

A little-known fact for music fans is that popular music was utilized by the “powers that be” to make drugs prevalent. The jazz musicians of the genre’s golden era refused to allow their beloved art form to become a catalyst for drug use. Instead, we find that the succeeding generation of the 60’s did. In fact, the farther we get away from the golden era of jazz, the music has become more stripped down – almost to the point where the music is imprisoned behind bars. Jazz was the last time that the “spirit of music” was truly free.

In later years, music has lost much of its freedom, its ability to walk among melodies with a cluster of arrangements and variations. Music is dying in front of our eyes and to some degree it can’t help itself. Jazz Spells Fame is like an underground railroad built to help music gain its freedom.

Because most of the work here is instrumental, do you name the tracks upon completion or does the title inform the piece’s conceptual roots before a note is played?

Music comes to me as a story first. All I do is create the emotions of that story through instrumentation. Once the composition is complete and I can hear the track versus the original idea a title is born.

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As a ‘lockdown’ album, do you think Jazz Spells Fame has become a different creature from what it otherwise would have been?

The pandemic gave me more room to focus, but I don’t think it changed the outcome. In many ways, I wanted to inspire people. Let them take off the shackles of stress that arose during the lockdown. This vibe of reemergence cries out specifically in the track Brooklyn Day.

What was it like collaborating with Ilya Veletsky (brass)? Was it done remotely?

It was awesome and a very enthralling experience! Amazingly, Ilya never heard any of the album until it was finished. I would just give him the recording speed and the vibe that I was looking for and he would send me measures that helped new things unfold.

I am a firm believer that music has a life of its on and it will draw to itself the elements needed for it to come into being. And this was the approach to recording Jazz Spells Fame.

Jazz Spells Fame. Have you ever wanted to be famous?

I’m already famous under my pseudonym Warlock Asylum. My writings are well-known in circles of spiritualism, but not so much for music. Perhaps, I can be famous for music and not just in the imagination of my own being. I usually find that album titles draw that experience to you. We’ll see.

Inevitably, we’re going to ask you: what comes next?

Jazz Spells Fame is the second album of a trilogy. However, over the past summer, I released a dance track called Love Kiss Dance, which has been my most successful musical endeavor yet. The single reached #6 on iTunes in South Africa as a dance single. Based on these results, I will go ahead and release an EP of dance/house tracks before releasing the last episode in the jazz series.

Where do you go when you listen to jazz?

Wherever the music takes me, but more times than often – into happy memories of the past, childhood, and a much brighter and more colorful world. Occasionally, I travel to the future to write new music underneath the stars.

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Visit Messiah’el Bey’s Website for more information.

Chris Porter


As well as writing about music, Chris Porter is a songwriter, singer, producer & vocal coach. He has written for all manner of international artists, including Dagny, Dzeko, and hit the No.1 spot with Thailand’s Singto Numchok. His music has had thousands of placements on film, TV & radio all around the globe.

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