Spread the Message Through Music and Tattoos. Interview with Nelson Graf Reis

December 18, 2016  17:19  |  Interviews M.I.C.

Nelson Graf Reis

Photos: Nuno Fangueiro

We had an exclusive opportunity to talk to the “We Bless This Mess” musician Nelson Graf Reis from Portugal, who recently attended an annual event SIM Sao Paulo, which is an International Music Business Conference where he represented his label Oh Lee Records, and AMAEI. As we talk with Nelson, it is hard not to notice his love for what he does. The passion and interest is what keeps this musician going and spreading the message to his listeners. Beyond the creation of music, Nelson is sharing his thoughts about various subjects and what he tends to express inside himself, how he sees the world around him. As we can tell, the lyrics of his songs are the true example of how to live the moment and how we should enjoy and appreciate what we have. Which is one of the things that Nelson stays true to – by giving the love to the people around him and sending the message within music.

Nelson, we can call you the face of the band “We Bless This Mess” since you are the vocalist and guitarist. Can you share a bit of the story behind all this musical world? When and why did you start playing?

Well, I was born surrounded by music. My father is a musician and my mother works as a stage manager. My first passion was and still is the Violin, I started playing it at the age of 9. When I was about 15 I started playing with my brother Marcelo and my good friends from Porto, and we played together as a band for some years. I play music because I love it, I really do! That’s the main reason, it’s through music that I express what I hold inside, my way to show the world what I am and feel.

Sometimes it is better to stay mysterious and just not tell everything about the band. But can you explain what does the title of the band “We Bless This Mess” mean?

We Bless This Mess is what I believe I’m doing in this world, my mission and my path. I carry love inside me and I want to share it with all the people that appear in my way. The mess I talk is the overthinking mind that leads us into an unbalanced ego full of problems and stress, and the blessing is our heart that is able to feel this moment, and above all keep us alive. This life is a gift. This reality is our creation and responsibility.

Nelson Graf Reis

Did the genres which you play today have changed over the time? At the moment “We Bless This Mess” is focusing for on 3 genres and mostly we can hear the sound of a guitar, which creates a certain, calming mood, so how did the band decide to focus on this type of music choice?

Yes, they did! I started with classical music when I was 9. Then I played Rock’n’roll, punk-rock, punk-hardcore, I even played at Throes and The Shine which is a Kuduro-Rock band. Now my biggest influences are Folk Roots and Country music, but for me music is universal that’s why I don’t have limitations when it comes to play or listen to music.

Some of the singles like “Joy” or “Silence” is bringing a message that we have to appreciate the moment that we have now and that positive vibe that everything will be good. Is there a particular theme that the band likes to use for their songs, lyrics? Where does the inspiration come for the music?

What I feel and experience in my life is this amazing feeling of gratitude and love for being. I want to share it and spread it. If I have a microphone in front of me, I hold the responsibility to bring to the audience what I really feel. It’s a simple message of peace that goes beyond any concept of nations, gender, sexual orientation, even time and space. I know that real peace resides inside each and every human being and it just needs to be re-discovered.

Nelson Graf Reis

Who are your major influences besides the universe which you have mentioned? Or do you believe that it’s better to stay away from having influences when everything these days is so temporary?

My influences are people like Prem Rawat, Eckhart Tolle and many more… and of course the universe itself, but influences are just influences, doesn’t really make who or what you are. We need to have responsibility for our actions, thoughts, emotions and so on. We need to be the observers and not the victims of our own existence.

Originally the band was created in Porto. Has the city where you, Nelson have grown up influenced the choice of your music career?

Not at all, it’s an amazing city and I really love it, but in terms of what I do, if I was born and raised somewhere else I would take the same path.

Nelson Graf Reis

As we are informed, in 2017 on February you will show up in Lisbon, at the event playing at RCA club. What does it mean for you as an artist? What do you expect from this kind of appearance?

For me every show is important because as I said before I hold the responsibility to share with the audience the love that I carry inside. So, for me doesn’t matter if I’m playing for 5 or 500 people. The feeling needs to be there, and the word needs to be shared.

Recently you have attended the event which was held in Brazil, Sao Paulo “Sim Sao Paulo”. Can you tell us more about this event?

SIM Sao Paulo is an International Music Business Conference. I was participating there as a speaker in one of the conferences, representing my label Oh Lee Records, and AMAEI (the Portuguese association for independent labels, artists and musicians). I was there to spread the word that we as artist and musicians need to get informed and involved with the music industry, because if we don’t, we are creating a gap in our careers. Musicians need to take responsibility for their own careers. The industry should be something that complements our good work.

Nelson Graf Reis

What are the future plans for the “We Bless This Mess”?

My vision is to share what I feel around the world, and it’s already happening. The first step of creating a good network is already taking place, so now it’s just work on it with love and focus my energy to put my thoughts and plans into reality.

Being a musician also means being a creator that does not stop working in just one particular sphere. What do you like to do outside of music that contributes to your musicality? Is there a particular hobby that you turn to in order to rejuvenate the creativity?

I practice meditation every day. I skate, paint, do some tattoos. I try to live the best I can and give love to myself and to all the people around me. The love I talk here is universal love, is understanding and comprehending how to behave and being pro-active in this life.

Nelson Graf Reis - SwO magazine

How did the tattoo art came to your life and how do you find the connection between tattoo art and music business?

I always loved tattoos, and when I like something I get involved. I started tattooing when I was about to turn 19 years old and changed my life. The connection between music and tattoos in Punk-rock. It saved my life, gave me the opportunity to see the world in a different way, and gave me the confidence to believe in myself and what I do. It was through positive punk rock lyrics that I found some of the knowledge I feel and live today.

Nelson Graf Reis - SwO magazine

Can you share about the tattoo art that you do for our readers, for example what kind of style of tattoos do you do, what does this work mean to you and where can we find more about your works?

Tattoos is another expression of my love for this life. I really can’t label my style of tattooing because it’s intuitive. I use some sketch influences in some tattoos but in other pieces I prefer to go a bit more Traditional.

Nelson Graf Reis


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