BLESSED is Making Cheeky Alt Rock in a Studio of Hip Hop Heads
Good Charlotte, Christian college, and being sincere. Meet the rock dog in Manu Crook$'s crew.
In the suburbs of Western Sydney, a group of friends share a studio. Among them are Manu Crook$—the man being knighted as Australia's best shot at success in international hip hop—and B Wise and Dopamine.
Born in Ghana and raised in Australia, BLESSED was literally named so by his parents: Blessed Samuel Joe-Andah. The multi-talented artist and producer harks of the space between Kid Kudi and King Krule—yes, that place exists. Once going under the moniker Miracle, BLESSED is taking form as an alternative artist in a world of hip hop heads. Picking up the guitar again and remembering his formative years with Good Charlotte.
We spoke to the man himself about his recent release Love Letters, an EP that sets him up as a One to Watch.
Noisey: BLESSED! How are you?
BLESSED: I'm good! I just woke up from a nap, actually. Been rehearsing all day.
Are you a bit out of it?
Nah, nah. I'm good.
I've never been able to nap. Every time I wake up I feel like I've been in a coma.
Naps are a major key, though. Just a quick twenty minute nap and back to it.
Yeah I get that, I guess it's a bit less appropriate for me, working in an office. Sad.
Oh, yeah, of course.
So when did your family move to Sydney?
When I was starting high school.
A very formative time.
Yeah I guess so! I went to Tyndale Christian College, in Blacktown. It was pretty Christian, pretty full on. It was cool though.
Did you make friends quickly?
Yeah I did, actually. I did like a rap kind of thing at a show and everybody was my friend after that.
You had a cool high moment! I used to fantasise about having one of those moments—you do something and everyone is suddenly like "wow, I never knew she was cool, we were so wrong about her"—but I never did.
Was it an original?
No, no, I recited Lil Romeo. But um, I told everyone it was my song at the time. Haha. Man. I don't remember what song it was either, but if I heard it...
Did you have to change any words because of the school's, er, ethics?
Nah, because back then Lil Bow Wow and Lil Romeo were already really censored.
Oh, yeah, totally. That's really funny. What else were you listening to in high school?
A lot of Good Charlotte.
Oh my god. You and me, pal. We're going to get along. We are.
Haha, hell yeah. Yeah I loved them. It's crazy actually, I had a session with Benji once! It was the most random thing. Nothing good came from it, haha. But we were in a room together, and we were going to make music. It was crazy.
It's wild to think that they were one of the biggest things on the planet for a time.
I feel like you can tell, listening to BLESSED, that you grew up listening to pop punk.
Yeah, yeah. I listened to either pop punk or hip hop. In between two worlds a little bit. Especially with my friends as well, like, all the kids I hung out with were either white kids that listened to rock music and then all my African friends from church would listen to hip hop. So I listened to all that.
Did you start writing music young?
Yeah, like mid-high school.
Do you remember the first song you ever wrote?
I don't really. But I do remember the first song I ever put up on my MySpace. It was called "I'm Just a Kid".
Isn't that a Simple Plan song?
Definitely was inspired by Simple Plan. Definitely.
When I was in high school I thought—for a very brief minute—that I wanted to be a pop star. And I wrote this song on the piano and sung it and it was called "Guns N Knives" and it was about war and shit.
Knew nothing about war, obviously. Grew up in Fitzroy. Very Sinead O'Connor of me. Sometimes I'll get the song stuck in my head and it's just… the worst.
Haha. Fitzroy, word. I used to live in Dandenong.
Nice, I used to go to parties there when I was a teenager. Do you vibe Melbourne?
I do, I'm actually coming down this weekend. Going to come down to see Manu [Crooks] support Torey Lanez.
Do you ever sing on any of Manu's tracks?
I did, I sang on "Blowin Up," but that when back when I was working under Miracle.
Is it ever hard to get work done when all your friends are around? For me personally, nah, because I'm like a work horse. When I'm trying to do something I just make sure I get it done. And then I hang out. But I think it's hard for the others. Most things get done in the end.
It certainly looks like things are getting done.
Yeah, they are. We out here.
So what instruments do you play? Yeah, I play the guitar. I learned in high school but I didn't really stick with it. I'm performing it on stage though so I've got to back into it.
So your new single "My World", can you explain what it's about? My world is me opening up, being as honest and vulnerable as possible. Saying "this is what I want my surroundings to be like." No negativity, no bad vibes.
I feel like—not to be cliche, but—with the state of Planet Earth right now, you gotta make sure your surroundings are as loving and legit as possible.
100%, the world is crazy. And it's even crazier because it's so easy to forget about all that stuff, when you get stuck in your own little thing. At least that's what I do.
I think we all do, for sure. It's a fine line; you gotta have your own space, but you've also gotta connect. Even when you don't want to. So what have you been listening to lately?
I have this playlist on Spotify that I just listen to over and over. It's kinda Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan and Bloc Party. Just like a variety of live stuff.
Who would you most like to collab with?
Pharrell, for sure, he's just on another level isn't he?
He's a bit of an alien.
He's definitely an alien and I definitely want to work with aliens.
Everything about him is so cool.
Everything. From the fact that he's a 40-year-old who looks 20. To the way he dresses. His whole aura, he's so positive.
So who do you think you sound like? Is there anyone out there?
I think I sound like Kid Cudi, vocals-wise. And Kanye production-wise, I think. I'm really inspired by him.
Who else are you inspired by?
Jimi Hendrix, for sure. He's GOAT. Outside of music, Jean Michel Basquiat, everything he did in the art world, I love. I feel like I wanna do things outside of music and he inspires me in that.
Do you already make art outside of music?
I don't paint or anything but I do all my own artwork and graphics. In music though I'm really into scoring things. Some friends and I have started scoring short films.
Yeah, that's sick. I think once you start learning crafts or creative things, it's pretty amazing when you realise "I can basically do anything". If you put in the work, you know.
Yeah that's really the best feeling.
It must feel pretty good to have something you made just exist out there, in its wholeness.
Creating something out of nothing is really cool. Suddenly an idea is tangible.
What other things do you wanna do in the future?
I just wanna have freedom, I think. I want to think to myself I wanna do that and then be able to research that and then just do it. For me, it starts with music—making it and then being able to play it to people. I guess that's what I'm focussed on now. But in the future I want to be in a position to be able to do whatever I want, make whatever I want.
Follow BLESSED on Soundcloud.