If you’ve never heard of Milo Meskens you’re missing out on something big so let me fix this!
Milo is a twenty-two year old singer and songwriter from Belgium. His first single ‘Here With Me’ was chosen as a Hotshot (a chosen song that’s played every hour during one week) of the biggest radio station in Belgium (Studio Brussel) back in January 2016. The reason why they chose his song is because of his story. In an exclusive interview with Milo, he explains:
‘Here With Me’ is a song I wrote about my first girlfriend after we broke up. We were together for five years and I shared everything with her. So separating from her was a very difficult thing to do. The irony is: we broke up because she felt like music was taking up too much time, and it’s the song about our breakup that was my breakthrough single in Belgium.
But let’s rewind and let me tell you more about his story.
As he states in his latest single ‘Twenty One’, Milo started playing the guitar at age four thanks to the perseverance of his parents. It wasn’t easy finding a teacher for a four year old kid.
One of the first things he said as a kid was “I want to play guitar.” His grandfather being a piano and organ player was a major inspiration for him.
Although guitar has always been his greatest love by far, Milo also plays the bass guitar, a bit of drumming and enough piano/keys/synthesizer to write and record arrangements. He also played djumbé as a kid, and has been playing a lot of harmonica over the past few years even if he says he “sort of grew out of that phase.”
As incredible as it may sound, Milo wrote his first song at 7. He says he “never chased the path of becoming a singer very much at first “ and “just really wanted to be a guitar player for a long time,” but, at the age of 16 years old, he really got into songwriting. The reason why is the most touching thing. He says:
“The reason behind that is a bit of a long story: I lost my best friend Jordy in the summer of 2011, and in the year that followed that life changing event, there were so many things going on inside my heart and inside my head, but I felt like I couldn’t really tell anyone about what I was struggling with. My guitar saved my life a bit back then, to be honest. I got to sing what I couldn’t say, through my first songs. I noticed how much songwriting healed my soul, and I never really stopped ever since. And because my songs were so personal, it wouldn’t really feel ‘right’ to let anyone else sing them, so I pretty much taught myself how to sing. It was horrible at first, but practice makes perfect I guess?”
This is just one example of how persistent Milo is as an artist: he has always dreamt of being a musician for a living but says that, for a long time, he thought it would be completely impossible. However, after seeing that one local band play live in his hometown, he decided “if a local guitar player could be that good, then maybe chasing my musical dreams wasn’t that impossible as I had thought?”
And of all the things he said throughout the interview, this is what had the most impact on me, as a singer-songwriter because it shows how relentless of a music lover he truly is:
“So I made a deal with myself, from that day on I was going to do something for my musical career, every single day. It could be anything: playing a show, rehearse, write a song, practice guitar, send an e-mail to a venue,… literally anything that would aid me in my dreams. To this day it’s a promise I still keep to myself: I never take a day off of music – I breath it, and it’s all I do from waking up until I go to sleep.”
Milo, indeed, stopped studying to dedicate his life to music, and to the question « Was it a hard decision to make? » he answered:
« Not that hard really. Obviously, the lifestyle I’ve chosen is a lot more dangerous than most. I never really know what my day will look like the day before – and that’s what
keeps me interested, every single day is a challenge, which can be a good thing and bad thing sometimes. But I’ve never been happier than these days, because my entire life revolves around music, 24/7. »
He was so focused on music that even though he has « a genuine affinity for skateboarding and martial arts », he never really thought much of what he would be doing if he wasn’t making music. Milo acknowledges that « Maybe that will turn out to be naive, someday, but so far so good. »
This year has, actually, been quite an amazing one and to the question « What would you consider as your biggest accomplishment so far? », that’s his answer:
« That’s a hard one to answer. Lots of amazing things have happened to me over the past few
years, and for every single one, I’m incredibly grateful. I played in an arena in front of 20.000 human beings, with just an acoustic guitar. My first three singles all became (radio)hits in Belgium. My songs are being played all around the world. I’ve gotten to see so many beautiful places and faces around Europe, by playing music. I’ve played at festivals where there were more people than my eyes could grasp, and most of them singing along to me. I got to sign a record deal with the biggest label. I’ve seen heroes become friends, dreams become reality, but the thing that I’m the most grateful for: growing up, there were many times when I felt like I was a loser, like I was never going to mean anything in this world, like no one was ever going to like me. These days I can drive to several different countries, hours and hours away from where I live, and find people that appreciate me who I am, and to whom I can mean something with the music that comes from my heart. To me, that is my biggest accomplishment. »
Milo describes his music, mainly inspired by John Mayer, as « Hopeful » and told me:
« What I’m always looking for is that duality of hope and sadness. The way I am is very much reflected in my music: I didn’t want to pretend like the world is all shiny and happy because it’s not. So my songs will never be shiny perfect pop music. But at the same time, I didn’t want to fall into the trap of being that tormented singer-songwriter – the world isn’t perfect, but it has it’s beautiful sides as well. So I try to combine those two aspects: a bit of an edge of sadness/despair/disappointment/hurt, bit always with a dose of hope that whatever happens, you can take it! »
His two latest releases are, in fact, the proof of it. I asked him what was the inspiration for New Beginning and Twenty One:
« New Beginning has a beautiful story, that involves a man I’ll be forever grateful towards: my producer Jo Francken. In the summer of 2016 I was planning to record an album with him, and about a week before we had the studio booked, I had a rehearsal with him and 2 musicians. About 20 minutes in Jo said quite boldly: “Look, I’m going to go now, I’m calling the studio to cancel our studio time, and you’re going to go home and start all over again. These songs aren’t good enough yet. You can do better.” It broke my heart and I remember semi-crashing into the couch of the rehearsal space thinking “How the hell am I ever going to be able to make a record with this guy?” After 2 hours of couch-crashing, I drove home, and on the way home I said to myself: “Well f*ck this, no time to waste, I’m gonna start writing right here and now!” I parked my car by the side of the road, took my guitar from the trunk and wrote New Beginning in about 30 minutes, as a way to give hope to myself, and tell myself that that moment right there was a “new beginning” for my record. I never thought it would’ve been as big of a hit as it turned out to be, and Jo was right: I had much better songs in me. I can’t thank him enough for all he has done for me. He has helped me become the artist, songwriter, singer, guitar player, musician, performer and person I am today. »
« I wrote Twenty One about how hard it can be to follow your dreams and not give up when it seems like nothing is ever going right, about how hard it can be on the people around you, how sometimes you have to disappoint those you love to reach the goals you’ve set yourself. I’m really proud of that song and the message it represents. »
But what about the future? Milo says:
« 2018 is going to be a very, very, very exciting year for me! My debut album is finally dropping, I’ve been looking forward to that for my entire life pretty much. I’ve also been nominated for 2 Music Industry Awards, which are pretty much the Belgian Grammy’s, which is an incredible honor. I’ll be playing all over Europe, clubs, festivals, radio’s, the whole deal. It’ll be a busy year, but I can’t wait for all of it to happen. I’m always the happiest when things are busy. 🙂 »
I think it is pretty clear that you better look out for him and his music because that’s what he says about his biggest dream right now:
« I’m very ambitious, but also very realistic. I don’t know where I’ll end, but I know myself: if I would’ve known where I am in life right now, 5 years ago, I would’ve felt like I reached all my goals, and now that I’m here, I feel like I haven’t even started properly. So I want to see how many people I can reach with my music, how many people I can play for in one evening, and how long I can keep doing just that. »
He would also love to collaborate with John Mayer, Ed Sheeran, and Anne-Marie and I hope very much that happens because it would be pretty amazing.
For now, after giving his songs a listen (Apple Music; Spotify; Deezer), you can follow him on social media to be sure to hear about his new music as soon as it comes out: