Chronixx – In The Spotlight
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Jamar Rolando McNaughton a. Dre Island and Kellisa have joined Chronixx on the European Tour and this being Dre Island and Kellisa's first tours in Europe, the response to these 2 artist was simply amazing.
The comparison, seeing an artist online watching a video and seeing them perform live on stage, at times comes with surprise, but in this case I must admit that both Kellisa and Dre Island delivered on what they came to do. Not having known much about Kellisa until her European tour I was simply blown away by this Empress, gifted of course I would say, in the manner in which she presented herself, the harmonizing expression of her message, bold and strong, very unique. The massive themselves, seemed to be so drawn into her performance and as for it being her first performance in Vienna, wow what an amazing response she got from the Viennese massive was awesome.
Kellisa did what she came to do in Vienna and that was to put on a show.
I am one of the people who are affected by music in that way. Different sounds in different kinds of music have a certain impact on me so I like to perform songs according to that truth.
These songs can bring people to a certain point and then from there I need to take them to the next place. Dread and Terrible project was very much about Rastafari and Babylon. In the early part of the new album you talk a lot about yourself. Who you are, where you're from, your family and so on. The whole album is very personal but also very universal music. I see myself as a micro-version of the universe. Which means every single person that exists on earth, a little piece of them is in me.
I try to bring that out in my music. We have a little bit of everyone from everywhere in the world. We are all connected and I am trying at this stage of my life to become more aware of that. You spoke on social media about your admiration for Bonsai Caruso, the main engineer on the album. You did some mixing and played guitar on this album and the Kelissa Spellbound EP.
You did Likes pretty much all yourself - but could you build an entire reggae track with live instruments yourself if you wanted to? Do you try to learn all aspects of music?
Yeah, Likes is programing. I play the keyboards and the synths. The bass is a synth bass and I programed the drums, recorded it, recorded the harmonies, the lead vocals and mixed it, along with Bonsai.
I did a little bit of everything on the album. I wrote all the songs and produced most of them. Mixed and played instruments on a few of them. I am not an instrumentalist like a virtuoso but I can touch an instrument to make music. I definitely can produce from instruments. Bass, guitar, piano and drums. I like instruments and appreciate music to the point where I try to understand each and every instrument I come into contact with. That is how we are able to make music so freely. The second track Big Bad Sound features your father Chronicle.
CHRONIXX REMOVE DI POST…OBSERVER RUN WIDDY |
His voice is out of that Barrington Levy, Half Pint school but it's got its own richness. He's definitely highly influenced by Barrington Levy and many other singers. I had to listen to whatever my father liked so I ended up liking most of what he likes!
Talking about fishing makes me think of something you sang on Eternal Fire from Dread and Terrible project. There's a lyric about ackee and saltfish and its claim to be the Jamaican national dish. Laughs It is the national dish of Jamaica. But we have to understand we are coming very close to the end of the nationalist era where people won't see themselves in terms of which country they were born in anymore.
I am one of those people. I don't really see saltfish as a part of my diet in any way. I don't see any great sense in it being the national dish since it is not one of the foods that you can find nationally. The fish is imported. It is imported, so in my opinion it says a lot about the foundation upon which the nation of Jamaica was built on.
I have no problem with people [eating it].
What's the tea on CHRONIXX?
I grew up eating saltfish and ackee. I personally prefer just ackee. But when my grandmother make saltfish it tastes good - it is really nice. You have saltfish and red herring. Jamaican food that is very tasty and very delicious. But as far as the national dish is concerned that's a whole different thing.
Lasagne tastes good but you can't make lasagne your national dish simply because it tastes good. There are a lot of things in Jamaica that I feel could be. Ackee by itself is good enough. Big Bad Sound also features the late Nambo Robinson on trombone.
He is a foundation musician whose music touched the new generation whereas you are an artist from today who has intergenerational appeal. Nambo Robinson and Dean Fraser helped me to arrange the horn section.
I did the arrangements and Dean Fraser came in, added his touch to it and so did Nambo. I worked with Nambo Robinson on many different occasions - both live and in studio. His son plays with guitar with me. Nnamdi plays guitar on almost every track on the album. That is how close we were. Nnamdi is a brother to me. So his father automatically becomes like a father to us and treats us like that.
He's a great inspiration to our generation in terms of how he helps us to understand the depth and truth in Jamaican music. Not just in the lyrics but the actual musical build. I think that kind of knowledge can only be passed on in the way Nambo Robinson teaches it. It is not something you can go in a formal classroom setting such as a music school to practise. It is something that you have to feel and experience.
He is a person who understands the musical environment a Jamaican musician needs to experience in order to be a good musician. He brings us into that environment all the time to create that environment for us. So much that we were very blessed to be in his presence so many times.
Nambo Robinson is a great part of the reason why I sound the way how I sound. And he is a great part of the reason why I appreciate the music as much as I appreciate it right now.
On Skanking Sweet the harmonies are very ethereal and soothing. How much time do you spend perfecting vocals and harmonies? For me the part of recording takes most of my time is the lead vocal. I started out my performing life as a background vocalist. I used to sing harmonies for different gospel artists and in studio with people like Lutan Fyah. I remember doing background vocals for Echo Minott and Leroy Gibbons and different singers. I am more experienced as somebody who arranges and records harmonies than I am somebody who performs and records as the lead singer.
It can take days, it can take hours, it can take minutes. Literal minutes to do a full song. When you were a child in De La Vega you used to direct your church choir. I was brought into the church choirs at a very young age. When I started I was maybe nine years old on the children's choir. I started out leading the songs in the children's choir and I used to go with my mother to the youth choir practice and the women's choir practice.
Until eventually at that young age of 10 or 11, I started singing with the youth choir as well. The youth choir would be like from age 18 to 30 years old so I started singing with the choir even though I was just I became a lead singer in the choir.
Then I started directing the children's choir. I helped to rehearse the choir until I was maybe 13 or 14 and then I started to direct the youth choir as well. Which denomination of church was that?
They call it Church of God but it is not really any denomination. You have Catholic and I don't know if they would call that Protestants? Christianise the garrison, you know? So was there a point where you had to leave the church?