Meet Celenges, the 21-year-old independent multidisciplinary artist currently residing in Madrid, with roots tracing back to Brussels, Belgium. With a dynamic range of talents encompassing singing, dancing, writing, producing, and acting, Celenges exudes artistic prowess. His debut EP, "Love Deluxe," made its mark in October 2022, while ongoing efforts revolve around crafting the brilliance of his second and third EPs. Embodying versatility at its finest, Celenges strives to push the boundaries of his artistry, creating an enchanting and captivating journey through his diverse expressions.
What was the first album you ever bought or purchased with your own money?
I didn't really purchase an album. I kind of illegally downloaded it. I think it probably was Rihanna's: "Talk That Talk" in 2011. I remember bootlegging the album on my phone and just playing it on repeat.
If you could have any musician's talent for the day, whose talent would you choose and why?
That's a really good question. I think I would choose Prince's guitar skills. I feel like it would be really cool to be able to play instruments like Prince. Not only the guitar but he was also an amazing pianist and bassist, so I would like to be Prince for a day and be able to do whatever I want with the guitar. I'm learning the guitar currently and it's so hard when you start off at an older age, you know, so I would like to have that "Prince feel" with the guitar.
I watched your music video: "Your Biggest Fan." How did you come up with the whole concept for that video? What was your inspiration?
It just came to me. I didn't really have to think about it. When I started working on the song, two years ago, I remember I was working with my producer in his room and he started playing these chords. They were very punk rock influenced. I'm a very visual person so when music starts playing, I automatically have pictures in my mind and one of the first things I told him was, "I'm gonna make a video with this song and I'm gonna be dressed in all red. I'm gonna be singing in a room and jumping off the bed. I'm gonna have a guitar in my hands." That was the first thing I said and it really happened.
Everything manifested and the inspiration just came from that moment. I got a picture in my head and I couldn't get it out. I was just like, "I'm gonna make this kind of "stalker-ish" song." It's about being obsessed with a boy that doesn't even know you. It's crazy. You're being a huge fan of someone that doesn't even know you exist.
In the music video, I broke into his house. It's kind of creepy for real. I'm smelling his underwear and I'm really obsessed. As the song develops and I started getting more ideas, I kind of started conceptualizing the music video in that way and then it just all came together. I worked with an amazing team also that helped me propel the idea to the biggest possibility.
How would you describe the creative process behind your latest EP? What inspired you to write those songs?
I think it was primarily the lockdown, like a lot of people. I was 18 at the time. I was in college my first year but it was very depressive obviously because you couldn't do anything and I was very uninspired. I just went to college because it was the thing to do but in my heart, I knew I wanted to make music. I just didn't have the courage to really be like "I'mma just commit myself to music completely."
I was going through a hard times for months because life was not happening for me. I was very unhappy and sad. I just realized that I was stifling myself. I was not doing what I'm supposed to be doing and then I just had a coming to light moment. Like what is one thing that I need to do before I leave this earth because tomorrow is not promised. It just kept ringing into my head, "MUSIC, MUSIC! You need to be on stage. You need to perform. This is what you're meant to do."
From that day on, I was like, "I'mma make this EP. I'm just gonna find a producer. I'm just gonna make the music and see what happens. I want it to be all red. I wanted to talk about different concepts of love. Different stages of love that people go through. It was kind of an accumulation of a lot of things. The inspiration just came from my life at that time going through the lockdown. Going through finding a new job and everything else. It was a lot. It was very hectic.
How do you balance your personal experiences and emotions with the need to connect with a diverse audience with your music?
Being honest, I don't really think about it that much because I'm still in the beginning phase of my career. I'm just kind of making the music, I like and bringing out what I feel. I don't really think about how the music will affect the audience or whatever. As of right now, I just make music that I feel in my heart. That's my main focus. I don't try to think about things too much when I make music.
“You need to love what you do. If there is no love in your craft or in your passion, then you're gonna burn out....”
Are there any specific artists or specific genres that have significant impact on you and your musical style?
Yes. As of now, I would say I'm taking a lot of inspiration from Congolese culture. My parents were born in Congo and I was born in Belgium. I'm kind of going back into the traditional styles of Congo. We have such a rich culture and there's so much music that I feel is untapped. I am really getting into singing in our native languages and our native instruments.
I'm also tapping into a lot of Ethiopian jazz, Brazilian funk and underground artist. I would say that right now, I'm listening to a lot of Layla Hathaway. She's amazing. I've been a fan since I was 10 yrs old. I'm also listening to Anita Baker and a lot of rap. I like different types of music. I feel like listening to those types of artists at the same time kind of gives me the freedom to do whatever I wanna do. Today I can do jazz. Tomorrow I can do rap and then the next day, I can do rock.
I know that you perform live. As a singer and songwriter, how do you approach your live performances? Do you have any rituals or preparations before you hit the stage?
I definitely pray, always, before I hit the stage. 30 minutes before show time, I always try to do my breathing exercises. Relax my whole body. I also make sure that in the morning, I drink a gallon of water to keep my vocal cords hydrated. I also make sure that the days leading up to my performance, I don't talk too much so that my vocal cords are well rested. I just try to be relaxed before showtime and just pray. The most important thing I always say to myself is that I need to have fun. If I don't have fun then what's the point of performing. I love performing.
What advice would you give to aspiring singers and songwriters who are just starting out on their musical journey?
I would tell them to be brave and to be audacious because you won't get anything if you're not audacious. You have to be able to tell yourself, "okay, I'm gonna do this and I don't care about what anybody's gonna say. I don't care if in the beginning, I'm really bad because everybody has to be a beginner." You have to accept you're a beginner. Like, "I'm a baby and I'm here to learn."
Don't be afraid to reach out to fellow artists. Don't be afraid to reach out to them for help. Just remember that the most important thing is love. You need to love what you do. If there is no love in your craft or in your passion, then you're gonna burn out after one year or even after two years.
If you have love, that's gonna sustain you until you get to where you need to be. Even if it takes you 10 years, as long as you have that love, that fire inside of you...you're gonna have bad days and good days but you're still gonna be able to hold on and to sustain what you have until you get to that point of your dream.
What can your fans expect from you in the near future?
I've been working on several projects at the same time. Also I've been going through life because I just moved to a different country (Madrid, Spain). I had to adjust to this country and find a job so there were a lot of things going on but I have a lot of music coming out very soon.
I'm just taking a different approach compared to my first EP. Now I know what I definitely don't wanna do and what I'm gonna do. I'm much more wiser now so just expect a lot of cool and different music. They can expect a lot of videos. A lot of visuals. More concerts, a lot of performances in Spain as well as in Belgium. And just a lot of cool content. Out of the box type of things.
If people want to come along with you on the ride and experience the journey with you, how can they find you on social media?
All of my social media handles are my artist's name "Celenges". You're gonna find me on Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, Spotify and also Apple Music.