Interview with ...
Could you please introduce yourself to those reggae fans who don't know you as yet.
Yes I greetings to all the readers of this interview, today I stand rasta. I was born in St Ann, Jamaica. Mama call I Clarence Anthony Mitchell, being involved in reggae music since I was a child. Anthony John aka Mr Music is the name to music. Giving all I can for the upliftment of reggae music; so today with the rapid use of the internet . You can start checking I out there. I hope to be in your town soon.
You write many cultural lyrics. Where do you find inspiration ?
Inspirations is I. From I day to day life, things I here, see and live, and sometimes emagine.
Your first single "In the spot light" was recorded in 1990 for I and I Sound label. You have been in the reggae industry since 20 years today. What is your opinion about your own evolution and the evolution of the jamaican music during these years ?
"In the spot light" was really recorded in 1989 but release in 1990. Yes 20 and more years going strong, I think I evolute everyday with grate achievements musically, being in Europe today really teaches I alot. Now I realize that there is a lot more needed to be done for reggae music in Jamaica. On the other hand, dance hall, new roots and other experimental style music out of Jamaica still remain as one family like roots branches and stems, one tree. I see space for growth in Jamaica's music.
You lived and recorded in 3 countries where reggae is really popular (Jamaica, England and France). Which differences and similarities did you observe in the way people from these 3 countries live the reggae music and which differences in the way of producing reggae music ?
Differences are France live reggae music for the music; while Jamaica and England live mostly for the names of artists. Similarities are in these three countries there is a big love for reggae music; there are always different ways in the way reggae music being produced. Today we see less vynil and more CDs and download in general; but music always coming that’s the key.
Your started with Rambo International Sound System alongside Buju Banton. Is he the one who introduced you to Donovan Germain ?
I was with more sounds like Culture Love, Play Mate, Chalise and other sounds in the area. I was with Buju in Rambo International but he didn’t introduce I to Germain.
Who introduced you to Donovan Germain ?
It was I&I Music introduced I to Donovan Germain. I will have to tell a little story before I get forward to this question. I have been going to the Penthouse studio yard from the days of the big zinc shed since early 90s just like almost all the other studios yards in Jamaica, I knock on all these studio doors (I pass the auditions) even when Buju was still going to school. Time progress, Buju owns his studio AKSUM, label Gargamel music, and introduces I into an album deal, Germain start to here I on a lot of riddims at Gargamel Music with bursting melodies. I was really ready at this point, everything was in place for a musical buzz. But as you know in Jamaica most of the artists manage their affairs, it's always better when you have a manager and when someone has your interest at heart or just the basic goodness of each one help one. I was the one to introduce Lutan Fyah and Spectacular to Buju. Today you might be thinking that Buju should be the one to introduce I to Donovan Germain. I hope that I make I self clear we are all in this music together recognise and see each other from time to time but as I said before that I was in the Penthouse studio lobby singing and minutes after I was in the studio recording on the None a Jah Jah Children No Cry riddim.
Tell us about your 2 singles recorded for Penthouse in 2001 : Warning (on the Storm riddim) and Woman Gone Lef You (on the None Of Jah Jah Children riddim).
I was just lucky to be at the right place at the right time and always have a song to sing. I was singing this in melodies in the lobby “THE WOMAN SHE RUN GAWN LEAVE AND SAY SHE NOT COMING BACK, THE WOMAN RUN GAWN LEAVE AND SAY SHE FED UP”. The vibes connect pan the riddim when I reach in a the verse. “WITH SO MUCH BILLS TO PAY DI DOLLARS NOT COMING OUR WAY NOW I REALISE THE CHILDREN HAVE NO WHERE TO PLAY SO MUCH FRUSTRATION AND POVERTY OH YES IT'S A GLOBAL ATROSITY NO WE JUST CANT GIVE UP NOW WE HAVE TO WORK IT OUT SOME HOW”. This song just show to tell how the system brake down and superates families. Germain was happy with the melodies coming and going he told I that I could record after Buju finish his recording.
It was different with "Warning" as I was in a lot of the recording sessions after making a mark with the None Of Jah Jah Children riddim. The Storm riddim came and warning came. but there is a little story about this song “Warning”, it was released in 1994-95 on the Weather Balloon riddim for the Diamond Rush label. But in 2001 when I heard the Storm riddim in the Penthouse studio, it was the right time for an opportunity to re-record this song as not much people knew or remember the song at this time, and as you might can tell that thease two riddims are almost the same . “THIS IS JUST A WARNING TO ALL THE HEATHEN”. I can always sing this song until table turn and things change and better become best .
Did you record other songs for Penthouse which were not released yet ?
Yes I did 10 more songs there which are still not released. I remember that I recorded a song on the Mr Brown riddim.
What is Donovan Germain's singularity comparing to other producers ?
I think that he always wants to produce a good song. Everyone is uniquely different but we need some more Germain in reggae music. When saying that it means we can not get back King Tubbys, Joe Higgs and so much more grates. But we have King Jammy, Digital B and so much more grates. That’s the same way I see Donovan Germain represent and play his part in reggae music today.
You recorded in Penthouse studios with some greats engineers - like Michael "Coolie" Cooper - who created this recognizable sophisticated sound. Can you tell us a little more about them and their ways of working ?
Engineers like Jevon "Bonez" Bailey and Gregory Gordon was also there at the time. There was always a family vibes with them there ways of working is like normal people working; good communication with artists and focus in the works. I would say it’s just the capacity of the man in self to do what he do best. And every one do there thing a little bit different .
During the golden years of Penthouse records, which songs left you most memories ?
Garnet Silk “Fussing & Fighting”, Tony Rebel “Fresh Vegetable”, Marcia Griffiths “Fire Burning” and Buju Banton “Murderer”.
You recorded some tunes for Buju's label Gargamel Music. Did you observe similarities between Penthouse and Gargamel Music ?
Yes, I recorded a lot of songs at Gargamel. There are no similarities between these labels. Gargamel Music is run by an artist so this label is there to represent and promote the artist which is Buju Banton. On the other hand, Penthouse Records is run by Donovan Germain, a producer, and I see this label help to build a lot of other artists. So, it's clearly different.
How a reggae artist can make money in France in these tough economical times ?
It’s tough everywhere in the world and tougher where you find a ghetto. So as long as I living I bless I just face the day comes what may, when money comes I will be happy, but reggae music and the good people I meet is more than money so I can always live until the changes come and all people get them equal share. Don’t forget that people survive without money all over so I will survive with little or no money. See that this system must change, if not for I but for I children. If not for this generation, but for the next.
Tell us about your last releases, your third album "Creation" and the compilation "Bread Fruit riddim" produced by your own label Flyroots Productions.
Creation is a mixture of different vibes of music acoustic, soca, dub, lovers with two combination featuring Empress Ayeola and Lutan Fyah. It is a collective effort from Jah Warrior, Scoops, Sound Proof , Flyroots, Supa Tech and more. A lot of the songs was release on vynil and other compilations before but I see this as a way to give the same music to people who might not here these songs before. It is 12 tracks with intro and outro to 14. The Bread Fruit riddim was made by Sherkhan and all the works on this album was done in Jamaica almost six years ago at studios like Anchor, Tuff Gong, Cell Block 321, Joe Gibbs and Gorella music studio. You can find artists like Anthony John, Emperor Mangasha, Tavanity, Ras Brando, Norris Man, Lutan Fyah, Kulcha Knox, Luciano, Steve Machettie, Mark Tenn, Torch, Chrisinti, Spectacular, Turbulence and Determine. You can also find the riddim at the end. Flyroots productions is responsible for all this and more. It’s officaly run by I and I Anthony John & Sista Edmee and Priness Senayte. Flyroots productions represent a family that is in love with reggae music, roots music.
As a conclusion, what are you planning for your future works ?
Future depends on how tomorrow be and I don’t know that, but I live with an agenda and that’s is each day I rise I give thanks fe life with love and music, inspiration comes from each new day I experience, so with hard work and motivation I have songs for more than 5 albums, songs almost ready songs soon ready, and songs with no problem to get ready. So just look out for more music from Mr Music Anthony John and to all producers out there who read this interview and after grow with an interest there is some music for you also. It’s just one step at a time with all I goals insight and continue to uplift, educate and entertain the massive with I music. Love and honor to all and direct to all who read this interview, give thanks fe the teachings of his Imperial Majesty Emperor Selassie I & and Empress Menen, mama and papa of Iration. Give thanks to all the other grate men and women of our times who stand for just causes. I have few more words fe I people . Don’t forget words is power, and life is not complicated so if we live to love and raspect each other then keep that balance in nature. I just a say raspect the laws of life, raspect you concience. Don’t say “yes” when “no” is really the answer. Only The Truth Will.
DISCOGRAPHY ON PENTHOUSE RECORDS : |
- Warning (2001 - Storm riddim)
- Woman Gone Lef You (2001 - None A Jah Jah Children riddim)
listen to these singles :