Maxim Meyer-Horn

5 Jul 2020

Interview: Chibi Ichigo, MEYY, and IKRAAAN About the Future And More

The Belgian music scene has been flourishing the past few years and brought forth some amazing talent. Chibi Ichigo, IKRAAAN, and MEYY are three rising artists that create beautiful music and quickly became the power trio the alternative urban scene of Belgium was lacking. Russian hip-hopper Chibi Ichigo creates a mix between Dutch and Russian music, IKRAAAN sings about sensitive topics in Dutch, and MEYY’s voice blooms in English. We had the chance to talk with all three of them in Brussels.

Editor’s note: this interview happened right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit Europe.

You guys belong to a new generation of music. Would you prefer to go back 30 years in time and start there or are you happy to live in this generation?

Chibi Ichigo: I’m very happy to make music in this generation. We’re three female artists, and it wouldn’t have been as easy for us 30 years ago. If I could, I’d prefer to make music in the future. Imagine 200 years from now. You don’t know how things are going to be then. Imagine just singing in your head and people hearing it, that’d be cool.

Why is it interesting to be an artist in 2020?

IKRAAAN: People say we are the ‘coming-out’ generation. 2020 is the year to show people that we exist and we come in all shapes and colors. Even if you don’t accept it, we are here. I also use a lot of difficult topics in my songs, and 2020 is the perfect time to show that these topics aren’t taboo and that they are okay to talk about. We’re in an era where there isn’t as much racial discrimination as there used to be, but we’re also not in the era yet where everyone accepts one another. We’re in an era where we can still fight for what we stand for.

Chibi Ichigo: We’re a rebellious generation, and we can do whatever we want. I don’t feel like I have to mince matters when it comes to my lyrics or topics.

Chibil Ichigo's real name is Sabina Nurijeva. © Bram Peeters

You are all part of small independent labels. The thing with major labels is that they focus less on visuals because they think YouTube is dying when it comes to music videos. How do you tackle your visuals?

Chibi Ichigo: It’s just so nice to work on a visual with your friends, and I honestly love creating them. Whenever I close my eyes, I can see the whole scenario played out. The moment I hear a song, I already have a clip in my head.

IKRAAAN: I lack creativity and can only come up with the corniest shit out there. Thankfully I have Eveline Bumba who is really good at all the visual and aesthetic stuff. She knows me better than anyone and knows what I like visually. I have also worked with Louise Guais for clips like “Happy Pill”. She thought of all the visuals, I didn’t have any input. Louise told me what to do, and it just fit perfectly.

MEYY: I didn’t have a lot of input for the music video of “Angelic Lies”. I thought it was super cool that Stig wanted to create the visuals for the song, and everything he does is honestly beautiful. So I just let him do whatever he wanted. My second video for “Common Love” was a DIY project that I made with friends. All the songs on my EP are accompanied by a visual I DIY’ed. I love being creative, but on the other hand, I also think: “I’m not a visual artist, I don’t want to take on too much.” It’s even a bit scary to create a visual. To me, creating a music video is like putting your stamp on something. A visual sticks around longer than a sound, so it’s important that it’s right. But I do love working on them.

You all sing in different languages, do you think music connects people, even if they don’t understand the lyrics?

Chibi Ichigo: I think that when you sing something you truly mean, passion and feelings are automatically laced in it. I love listening to Korean or Spanish rap, and the language doesn’t matter to me because I can feel the vibe.

IKRAAAN, you sing in Dutch. When you perform in Flanders, people immediately know what you’re saying. Isn’t it stressful that people understand what you’re trying to say?

IKRAAAN: To me it’s pretty self-evident that people understand what I sing, what’s the use otherwise? I’m very sensitive when it comes to lyrics, and I want people to know what I’m talking about because I want to deliver a message. I like singing in Flemish because, for some reason, it delivers my message extra hard. It’s probably more confronting.

MEYY: When I listen to your music, I’m always taken aback. While when I listen to English music that talks about the same topic, I’m not that affected.

IKRAAAN sings about the obstacles she has encountered in her life. ©

What are your upcoming plans for this year?

Chibi Ichigo: I want to drop a music video, and another, and another. After that, I want to drop my new EP. The new EP will be practically completely in Flemish. There’s still a bit of Russian in it, but most of it is in Flemish. At the end of the year, I want to drop another EP.

You can only drop one album that can be your debut album, and I want to make sure that my debut album is a masterpiece, not just an album with a couple of nice songs. Until the time comes that I can create that masterpiece, I will continue to create EPs.

MEYY: If you asked me this question two weeks ago, I would’ve said that I want to drop as many singles as possible. But to be honest, I want to wait a little bit longer with releasing new music. I’m only 19 years old, and my EP is from when I was 16 or 17 years old. I feel like my style has changed a lot already, and I want to create music that is the best I can possibly make. I want to be 100% sure of my music before I release anything else. I do plan on releasing a song in the summer.

IKRAAAN, you are currently working on your debut album?

IKRAAAN: Last summer something really fucked-up happened to me that changed everything. It gave me the idea for my upcoming album. I’ve never been this excited in my life. I feel more grown-up, and I know who I want to be, stage-wise but also lyrics-wise. At the moment, I don’t even want to perform my EP because I’m so excited for the album. Choreography is being worked out, outfits are being designed. I want to give a full show. I might not sell out my shows yet, but I will perform as if I’m selling out Het Sportpaleis (editor’s note: Belgium’s most famous concert hall).

You’re three young artists still developing yourselves. Are there topics that you have shared because it truly showcases who you are?

Chibi Ichigo: I draw inspiration from my own life. When I was still singing in Russian, it was sometimes hard to express myself because I couldn’t play around with the words. Since I’m singing in Dutch, I can do anything. I don’t have a specific theme, I just sing about how I feel.

IKRAAAN: I sing about how I felt during specific moments in my life without completely explaining these moments. As a kid, I always wanted to mean something to the world, I wanted to be revolutionary and by making music, I think I’m doing that. There are people that can find themselves in my music. The album is mostly about mental issues, society, and other topics. It’s based on trauma. For people to hear that and know that they aren’t the only ones feeling like that, it helps them.

MEYY: I think my songs are always about love. Love is really personal but also universal. I’m not very tempted to sing about things that make me sad. If I sing about pain, it’s about heartache.

19-year-old MEYY creates fragile lo-fi sounds. © Babeth Albert

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