Some recent writing on reggae…

Between a conference, a couple editing projects and a massive, ominous set of revisions, I’ve made some time to do a little writing. First, a review of a record chock full of one of my favourite genres of music–a genre I discovered while attempting to put together a “Women in Reggae” special for my old radio show, Venus. I first fell in love with “Caught You in a Lie” by Louisa Mark, but that, of course, is the tip of the iceberg. So happy to have written for Pitchfork again.

Joshua Chamberlain and I put together a little soundclash history for Clustermag to commemorate/celebrate this weekend’s World Clash events. Tonight we’ll be in Montego Bay for World Clash R.E.S.E.T. Jamaica–watch out for the tweets.

Rewind #2: Three Piece Suit and Ting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Six years ago this week I did my first ever interview. It was with Sanchez and was in the Montreal Mirror, a paper I still write for. I was terribly nervous, but Sanchez was terribly kind and friendly. The printed piece was rather short, but I did transcribe quite a piece more–I particularly like Sanchez’s focus on the importance of soundsystems. I posted it way back when on my old blog, but given my recent revived interest in all thing Sanchez, I thought I might throw it up here again. I also hope to be updating a little more than I have been so far this year!

Voila:

E: When you first started, you were selecting on a soundsystem, and you still run your own sound, Sexylus. How important do you think the sound system is to Jamaican music?

S: It’s the most vital thing in the music right now. I think the sound system is what really puts an artist on the map because not all of that is stuff that being played on the air. And I’m sure that it’s always being played in the dancehall.

E: Do you think that sound system culture is as vibrant as its always been?

S: Any time the sound systems from Jamaica die out, I think the music will be no more.

E: You live in the US. Do you notice any change from living in Jamaica?

S: A whole lot. It’s somewhat more secure to me. It’s a place where I’m at right now for bringing up families, they’re all about kids. You know I’m a family man straight up. From get go, my family comes first.

E: Your wife is your manager, you’re very proud of your children. What is the role of family in your life?

S: Just to keep me going. For real. Them a greatest support. And I’ve got fans who support me over the years, day in day out, but a family is always there through thick and thin. Things that even my fans don’t know, my family they know about it and they just be there for me.

E: When you perform, you often sing the Jamaican national anthem.

S: That’s a thing for representing. Number one, it’s kinda shows, for me, who is in the crowd. to start off. Whenever you go on stage you say “Hands up all Jamaicans” point blank. You’re among your fellow citizens. It’s very nice because, even a boxer, a team go to play somewhere else, it’s good to hear your national anthem, it give you a boost, a sort of energy.

E:You’re know for not only your own music, but for taking other tunes and giving them a real Sanchez twist. What kind of songs do you look for and how do you think your songs differ from the originals?

S: When I’m choosing my songs I choose songs that has a good composition to it. Songs that can be played on air, a song that even kids would relate to. Something to do with love—I love to sing a song that has something to do with love, bringing people together and all of that stuff.

E: Along with your secular albums, you also have some gospel.

S: Gospel is my first choice of music. I grew up in a church, I grew up on these musics. Overall, without the father, what are we? Yeah, I look into that very deeply and I consider it a lot. You get up everyday and you eat and you visit your friends and it’s all good, but what about the man upstairs? That wakes you up. Do you think you can wake yourself up? Nobody does. So I think, at the end of the day, I’m just giving thanks to the father, man.

E: Are there any other artists that you respect?

S: I respect any artist in the field that is trying to get some positive vibes outta all of this. Not just to go out there to make money or to be famous but to truly go out there and preach on the highways and byways about more love and togetherness. And we need that.

E: You have terrific outfits that you wear on the stage that you and your wife design. How important is it for a performer to have a really strong stage presence?

S: It is number one! I think an artist could be well attired and just go on stage for the first 20 minutes and just take the show right there. Him don’t have to say nothing, just put on something nice and the right coordination.

E: And those who don’t take the time?

S: You will hear critics. You will hear people that are really true fans and they’re saying “man, did he have to come like that, he couldn’t put a suit on? he couldn’t tuck his shirt in?” For real! Some of these artists they don’t care. They think that what matters the most is just money and who is better than who. You have to remember attirement. Because a lot of artists out there could be very good, they could sing, they could write, but the state of appearance is just not there.

E: A lot of your fans are women. Why do you think your music communicates so well to women?

S: As I said before, I try to choose my songs that are really dealing with love, respect for ladies overall, just bringing people together. I love that thing about the music. I mean yes, you have the voice or the power to go out there and say something to the world, so make it positive.