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"I’m an intense kind of guy" - Messenger talk prog, folk and psychedelia

Prog meets the men behind Messenger's music, and discovers how their personalities have shaped the band’s unique sounds.

On a leather sofa in a dimly-lit room in a recording studio somewhere on the outer reaches of North London sit two of the men behind one of the best British prog bands of the 21st century.

Right now, they couldn’t look more different. One sits in shadow, long jet black hair, clad head-to-toe in black, brow furrowed with intensity. The other, colourfully-shirted, open face topped by a mop of rust-coloured curls, perches at the opposite end of the sofa, haloed by the light from the upright lamp standing next to him.

If you’re looking for the perfect distillation of Messenger, this is it. Two distinct but opposing facets that together make a unique, intriguing whole. Earth and Air. Yin and yang. Light and dark.

“We’ve always been about that juxtaposition,” says guitarist and vocalist Khaled Lowe (ringlets, colourful shirt). “The darkness and the light that we get from the two of us. I’m a bit of a hippie. Ultra-positive all the time, a bit unrealistic.” He nods towards the other end of the sofa.

“He’s the Dark Lord – the Darth Vader of the studio.”

“I’m an intense kind of guy,” says drummer and producer Jaime Gomez Arellano (black hair, fierce stare). “I’m the one who screams at people to get things done.”

For a band who were never supposed to exist, Messenger are making a good go of things. Initially more of a vague sketch of an idea in the heads of Lowe and fellow guitarist/vocalist Barnaby Maddick (absent today) than an actual band, things only truly sprang to life when they hooked up with Arellano, who they had brought in as a producer (the latter has a successful parallel career behind the mixing desk, working with the likes of Anglo-Finnish folk-rockers Hexvessel and Swedish occult metallers Ghost; we’re speaking in the studio he owns).

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