An interview with production duo Mindkeyz. Jordan Refos & Diego Sabajo share childhood stories & vital tips for upcoming artists & producers.
How did you get into music?
Jordan: My dad (Erik Refos) is a musician/composer, so I grew up with a lot of instruments around. As a kid I randomly slammed the keys of this old upright piano that was standing in the living room. Of course it pissed of my neighbors, but somehow I enjoyed the noise I was making. At the age of 6 I went on a vacation to The Netherlands with my parents and my uncle introduced me to this beat making software on his pc. He regretted it almost immediately, because his pc was mine from that very moment. As I grew older my love for music got bigger and bigger. Music is my life, Music is my escape and Music is what keeps me alive.
Diego: When I grew up, music was constantly being played at home. In Suriname you hear all kinds of different music genres. From old school dancehall to reggae, from Latin music to pop, rock, R & B and soul. I grew up around all that. But it wasn’t until the beginning of my 20’s that I decided to go into music. A cousin of mine came on vacation from the Netherlands. He played me beats that he made on his computer. This was back in 2007/2008. Before that I had no idea that you could make a beat on a computer. He told me about FL studio and from that day on; I thought this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, among other things of course. It was like an epiphany for me. My decision to fully commit to this was made on that very same day, even though I had never composed music before nor had I any formal musical education.
How did you come up with your brand name?
Jordan: Back in the day when this all started, we needed a name for the production team. And since we are the brains behind the music you hear, there you have it. Mindkeyz!
How have you been educated in production? Do you think official education is necessary?
Diego: I haven’t had any formal education in music. Most that I have learned was from YouTube tutorials or some “how to play piano” or guitar course videos. I don’t think formal education is necessary to start doing music production, it can help, but like I said I don’t think it’s necessary.
Jordan: Nah! I’ve not been educated at all but I did have some lessons here and there from people who know how to play the guitar/piano. Most of the things I know are trough tutorials on YouTube as well and my curiosity for music production/marketing. Education can be very useful but I don’t think that it’s necessary.
How did you build contacts and/or clients?
Diego: By working our a*ses off & uploading these beats on different social media platforms. Whenever someone buys something from us we try to reach out and help them get the most out of their project. That’s not always the case but we believe in growing together with our clients and supporting each other on this musical journey.
There are times in a career when life isn’t going your way, how do you keep your mind on your work without losing focus?
Diego: For me it is easier to keep focus when stuff is not going to great, career or business wise. Success has the nasty tendency of making you become comfortable and unfocused. If I have to be honest. It is a bigger challenge for me to keep focus when stuff is going great. This is a challenge I must overcome.
Jordan: I believe that those times are very vital for my career. It’s in those hard times that you have to give it your all, fight back & learn your lessons. When things go smooth, you can get distracted very quick & easy. At the end of the day it’s the love for music that helps me get through it all.
What did you have to sacrifice to make your business happen?(hobbies,etc)
Jordan: Joking around & a steady income. For me it really was a leap of faith into the unknown. Leaving a 9 to 5 job can be very scary when you don’t know what will happen next. Life is about choices. At some point your really have to choose a direction and go for it. It’s all or nothing. That’s the mindset I try to live by 24/7.
Diego: Job security and a steady income. Never liked those securities anyway. Somehow I always knew that, when having a 9 -5 you would sacrifice freedom for a monthly paycheck. The freedom I’m talking about, is the freedom to design your own life in accordance with your life’s goal or purpose.
What was your reaction when you’ve made your first beat sale?
Diego: F*ck! This shit is really possible. Ha-ha.
Jordan: “Rich gang Rich gang, F*ck a 9 to 5. Look at me, I’m the captain now” Lol stupid me, little did I know we had a long way to go.
What is it like to live in Suriname?
Jordan: In three words “Paradise On Earth”. I lived here my whole life & I wouldn’t trade it for any other place in the world. I love the people, different cultures, the food and the weather. If I ever leave it will be for business purposes but I already know I will be back ASAP. There’s no place like home!
Diego: Suriname is a great country to live in, different ethnicities, cultures and religions living harmoniously side by side. Great food, people and weather. But it has lots of hardships, especially socio-economic. But it has a lot of opportunities if you know where to look.
What does a normal day in your life look like?
Diego: Get up at 5 am, I read/ stretch, take a bath, hit up the gf. Do 20 minutes of Duolingo. Learning German. That’s easy to learn for me because Dutch is my native language. Around 7 I start with programming for an hour or two. After that it’s cooking beats and attending to the business. After 6 pm, Me and Jordan go for a run or I train at home. That is kinda it. On the weekends I take things slower.
Jordan: I wake up at 6. Stretch, take a shower. Fix some breakfast. After that I reply to clients via mails, dm’s and other social media. Throughout the day I make beats, exercise, read & play video games. In the night I usually chill with my friends.
Do you have other hobbies besides beat-making?
Diego: I’m really into reading and educating myself. If you have lots of data to go by on, you can effectively make better life decisions. I’m teaching myself computer programming and German. So those are kind of intense hobbies. And who can forget video games
Jordan: Yeah I’m a DIY guy so I have a lot of tools to build things. Welding is something I love to do as well. Some other things I do are: exercising, reading & designing. I’m very outgoing so you might see me in the nightlife.
Any advice for upcoming artists & producers?
Jordan: Never let people/situations discourage you from doing the things you love to do. Dream big & shoot for the stars. Great things don’t happen overnight. Have patience & work hard!
Diego: Work hard, educate yourself about the music business or some aspects of it and be persistent. Greatness is not born but made.
Jordan: More music & expanding the brand. My biggest competition is the man in the mirror. That’s on a personal level. As for Mindkeyz we try to create more, collab more & do stuff that needs to be done to level up.
Diego: Expanding our brand and influence. Get Mindkeyz really out there. We have a fan base in Trinidad, capitalize off of that. And personally, to constantly update myself, so to be more effective in whatever I do.