Interview with Chrysanthe
“I became a musician by accident,” Rwanda-born Chrysanthe Rukebesha reveals. “Growing up in Kigali and Brussels, I used to be pretty serious and introverted. No one in my family is into music.” Naturally, fate wanted to have the last word. It was a friend’s father, a motorcyclist by all means, who introduced the young African to the exciting world of music.
So he ended up helping out in at jam sessions at the age of 14. There he got the chance to support his friend by playing rock and acoustic covers. He quickly absorbed the music around him. “Those days filled my veins with the love of playing the guitar,” Chrysanthe says
It is fair to say that his formative years were no fairy tale. Refugee life and parental divorce have left their scars on the young man. But his history is also a story of a musician overcoming hardship and pouring his feelings into his songs “I don’t want to sing about the Rwandese genocide or politics,” he says. “My music is about everyday life, love and relationships. My life is here.”
In 2006 he began writing his own lyrics. Initially for C.A.R.M., his band at the time, later for his solo performances trying to emulate his idols Ben Harper, Jeff Buckley and Jimmy Hendrix. And instead of, doing a music degree he enrolled in an audio-engineering course to be able to produce his music himself. “Basically I was just looking for recording studios,” he says with a big smile on his face. “Over the years I’ve been a real studio rat.” But thankfully, he has not forgotten his roots, and instead started fusing them together with more contemporary acoustic music.
‘Under my skin’ will be one of his first creations. “After breaking up with my girlfriend, I was really down”, he says. He even thought about moving to London just to forget her, but it didn’t work out. Chrysanthe did not have enough strength to leave Brussels. “She’s like a tattoo underneath my skin. Someone you really love, cannot be washed away that easily.” But he eagerly points out that the song is not only about her. “It’s also about the friends and family who died along the path of his life.”
Now the Brussels-based singer sees himself recording an EP in the near future. “I’m looking for a recording contract. Hence, music is my life,” he points out with strong determination in his usually lofty voice. “If it means waking up at five and going to bed at two at night, I don’t mind. It’s only about the music and me.”
1 Where did you grow up?
I was born in Rwanda in 1985. I emigrated in Europe because of war (1994) I came in Belgium when I was elven years old and never left. I want to leave for London, we’ll see about that in next the months.
2 What inspired you to make music?
I always enjoyed music as a listener, actually if you asked me that question when I was 10 years old, I couldn’t tell you I would be a songwriter today. I mean obviously, I was meant to be a musician but I started playing guitar when I was 18 years old. Since then I never felt better cause I’ve found my way and purpose in this life.
In fact, I really needed to express myself and music was the right thing to do; I’m a very shy guy.. My best friend father (Eddy Atisy), my spiritual father introduced me to the joys of guitar playing, that’s how it all started.
3 When did your interest in music shift from being a hobby to something you wanted to pursue as a career?
I always wanted to be a songwriter, I started with Hip Hop lyrics when I was sixteen, I quickly shifted to something else because of my need of musicality. Rapidly, I had a first band (college’s friends); we played cover songs. I was always pushing them to write songs.
In 2006 I created my first band as lead singer/guitar player, we toured around Belgium for 2 years, got involved in the music industry; I decided it was time for me to focus on my music career. Anyway, I’m completely unable to do something else.
4 Who were some of your influences in music?
Jimi Hendrix’s a big influence to me in the way he lived and offer his life for his music. I would mention also Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield as songwriters. Stevie Ray Vaughan, John Mayer, Derek Trucks, Kezian Jones for the sense of guitar playing.
5 Have you got any up and coming projects or collaboration your working on at the moment?
I’m working on new songs right now for a upcoming album release.
I’d like to expand my band for live performance with trumpet and saxophone.
I’ m walking on a move soundtrack
6 What has been your biggest challenge so far in the music business?
My biggest challenge was to start a project that would only concern me,
a Project that would define who I am. I reconsidered everything I was sure of. As I’m very eclectic, I had to find something that would sum up all the styles that influenced me. To be honest, I wanted a challenge, making music just for the art.
7 What do you feel is the most important thing about making music?
The most important thing to me about music’s freedom and creativity.
I really enjoy jamming with musicians, making instant music. Honesty’s also very important; I don’t want to make music to be successful.
8 Where would you like to see yourself in five years?
In five years, I see myself on stages around the world, possibly a studio geek As I always have been. I’d like to produce music for others musicians; even make an instrumental album.
Check out his latest song ‘She’s got it’
Check out his E.P Inder my skin on Itunes now
Check out his facebook page