SB.TV Ones To Watch: JMSN

The genre known as R&B has been undergoing some re-invention lately. It seemed like a few years ago that R&B was completely lost to the pop audience and that a lot of the artistry was gone, that was until last year when names like Frank Ocean, The Weeknd, Jhene Aiko started to surface (or rather re-surfacing with new stage names and outlooks) and now JMSN

American singer, songwriter and producer Christian Berishaj, who has reinvented himself under the four letter moniker JMSN and is now attracting a lot of buzz around his new self-written and produced debut album Priscilla.

Similar to the aforementioned names Berishaj wasn’t always known as JMSN, nor did he start out making the style of music he is now widely celebrated for. Having played guitar and written songs since a young age, and experimenting with Pro Tools since he was twelve, Berishaj had written and produced his first album before the age of eighteen, which was when he was offered his first two recording contracts. Turning down Sony and opting for a deal with Atlantic, he released his debut album Love Arcade (credited as a band of the same name) in 2006.

After the short-lived band parted ways, Berishaj left his home in Detroit to venture out to Los Angeles where he secured a second record deal this time with Universal Motown, under the name Christian TV, which lead him to tour with The Backstreet Boys and Pete Wentz’s new band Black Cards. However, before Christian TV’s debut album Diary Of An 80’s Baby (which included production from No I.D. and Kevin Rudolf) was released the label shut down, resulting in two separate labels neither of which kept Berishaj on their roster.

After having worked with two majors, neither of which being particularly successful, Berishaj made the decision to start his own label on which to releas his music, the label was called White Room Records, and JMSN was born.

Taking things into his own hands, Berishaj now has complete creative control over his own work, having released the dark R&B record Priscilla earlier this year which explores the break-down of his relationship with a girl, and handling all song-writing, production, visuals and art himself. As a package, the work is one of the most emotive pieces that we’ve heard over the past few years; with no need to hide or cover any emotions, and no attempted radio songs, JMSN talks about the human condition, not afraid to share his mistakes.

It’s this kind of uncut emotion and outstanding creativity that sets him apart as a peer to constantly compared acts like The Weeknd, as opposed to an imitator, and with co-signs from big name acts like Usher (who recently said in NME that JMSN is his “favourite new act”) it looks like Christian Berishaj has proven that it’s possible to make it off the back of pure talent and an organic release, without the help (and finances) of a major label after all…

Words by Grant Brydon

Edited by Natalia