Interview with ...
Devonte


Devonte is one of the major singers of Penthouse Records. He put his alto voice as well on the lovers rock and new roots productions of the label as on the dancehall riddims, such as his international hit "Everyone Falls In Love" recorded in 1998 with his partner Tanto Metro.
A career marked by talent and humility.

(May 2009 - penthouserecords.free.fr)

You recorded your first single, the cover "To Love to a Stranger", for King Jammy in 1993 under your real name Wayne Passley. Can you explain the choice of your artist name ?
Yes, I recorded my first single for King Jammy’s in 1993 under my real name. It was the only name I found to be suitable for me at the time. After meeting up with Dave Kelly in 1995, I recorded a song called “Fire Burn”, he then pondered over the name Wayne Passley and said he didn’t like the name for the artist it sounded too much like an alto boy. So he went in search of a name to suit the character and found “Devonte” which is known today.

You have a certain silky smooth singing style. Were you influenced by other singers ?
I am said to have a certain silky smooth singing style that I am grateful for. Some of my main influences came from first and most of all God. I use to love listening to my mother sing whenever she did the laundry, I listened to a lot of Bob Marley, Beres Hammond and Dennis Brown. My international influences were Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie and Donny Hattoway. They could do no wrong for me.

Your collaboration with Tanto Metro began in the mid 90s. Tell us of how you go about complimenting each other concerning the writing of your lyrics and the way of singing together.
After passing through Mad House, I then started doing some recording for Penthouse Records owned by Donovan Germain and Andre “Rookie” Tyrell of Rookie Production. Raymond Ledgister also guided me whenever he recorded me; he helped me find my way to Shocking Vibes where I recorded my first hit single “Bashment Sitt’n”. Raymond saw my talent and thought it should be nurtured, he then told Tanto Metro about me saying "this singer has a lot of ideas he just need to know the way of the road". Tanto then agreed to and took me up as a “paaring pee” we became good friends and have remained so ever since. Being good friends led to us writing with each other and writing lead to Recording (that was in 1997). We recorded our first single together in 1997 it was called “Living In Style” however, it was never released, the second was “She Gone” and the third was called “Everyone Falls In Love” which became a monster hit for us and the birth of a new duo.

We can think that you lead two careers in parallel. A solo career with lovers rock and roots lyrics and your career with Tanto Metro with "entertainment lyrics". Is this a personal choice or is it aimed at reaching a larger audience ?
Today, I have both a solo and a duo career. The reason for this is I find myself still wanting to get the cultural and the lovers rock side of me out which is a more reality side and when I need that hardcore party, gangster side then I go straight dancehall which includes Tanto Metro. I think of it as me being versatile musically and I am also able to reach larger audiences.

You have been in the reggae industry since more than 20 years. What is your opinion about the evolution of the jamaican music during these years ?
2009 makes 21 years in the business and I ‘ve seen it change a few times. I think it is wonderful because it shows growth and growth in almost any form is good. I think the lyrical content can be shaved down at times, but other than that it shows that the younger minds are thinking and doing so enables me to advance .

You recorded your first song for Donovan Germain's Penthouse label in 1996. How did you get connected ?
It was the affiliation with Dave Kelly why I got introduced to Donovan Germain and Penthouse Records. Germain who is a pioneer in the music business encouraged me to do more recording and provided me with the necessary riddims.

You recorded in Penthouse studios with some greats riddims makers like Dave Kelly, his brother Tony Kelly and Steven "Lenky" Marsden. Can you tell us a little more about them and their ways of working ?
I’ve recorded hits at the Penthouse recording studios with hitmaking producers, musicians, song writers Dave Kelly, Tony Kelly and Lenky. They are all geniuses in there own way. Dave Kelly has a hardcore dancehall hitmaking side that keeps the dancehall moving at an exciting pace while Tony “CD” Kelly captivates the international audience with his easy and smooth commercial flows. Both brothers are very talented and have the right attitude towards the music which makes them exceptional in what they do. On another note, working with Lenky was a great experience. He is a talented musician, exceptional one would say, that is why we call him “Reggae Jesus”. Yeah man this man creates phrase around any riddim yuh gi him, yep bad to the bone mi seh. All three are legends in my book.

You collaborated for many top producers. What is Donovan Germain's singularity comparing to other producers ?
Donovan Germain as a producer is considered as one of the greatest in reggae/dancehall. He is somewhat different from almost every producer in the music he makes. Germain takes the time to listen and make sure you dot the I’s and cross the T’s to ensure perfection. I know we all agree “di man great yaaah !”.

Among all your singles for Penthouse, which one is your favorite ?
Among all the singles I’ve sung for Penthouse, “Everyone falls In Love” is one of my favourite, even to this day.

Like all the reggae artists, you sing on classic riddims and original riddims. Do you adopt a different approach as it's about a classic or original riddim ?
I approach most riddims in the same manner. What I do is listen to the riddim, find a melody then write what the riddim tells me to, in other words the riddims tells me what to write.

Are you still under managment with Patrick Roberts and Shocking Vibes ?
I am no longer under the management of Patrick Roberts and Shocking Vibes Production. I am now managed by Dimmie Joe Muzik Inc.

Tell us more about your own label Dimmie Joe Muzik. When did you create it and where do you record your productions ?
Dimmie Joe Muzik was established in 2005. Aimed at handling the management and business of Tanto Metro and Devonte. We are a management team aimed to meet the world of music through visionaries who are dedicated at what they do. We try to cover most aspect of the music including recording, producing and soon distribution. We not only handle the management of Tanto Metro and Devonte but also a new and very talented up coming artiste called Dan Lou. We do recordings wherever we feel comfortable. We mostly use the studios of Shocking Vibes, then there is Free Willy and another time it might be Quest recording studio. I, on the other hand, have a small digital studio where I often record and edit.

To conclude, what are your plans ?
My plans for now are making more hits and to ensure this, I am in studio working on some new solo singles. However, Tanto Metro and I are still in studio working on our new album not yet titled. We are presently celebrating 10 years of hit making which we plan to share with our fans across the globe, we are set to tour North and South America, Canada, Europe, Africa and the Caribbean this year.


DISCOGRAPHY ON PENTHOUSE RECORDS :

solo singles :
- Everybody Needs (2001 - Forever Loving Jah riddim)
- If I Hold You (1997 - Sexy Girls riddim)
- Love You Forever (1998 - Right Time riddim)
- Maybe We Can Talk (2001 - Mr Brown riddim)
- Power Of My God (1996 - Heathen riddim)
- Should I Stay (2000 - Tonight riddim)
- Wish I knew (1997 - Lecturer riddim)
- World Need Love (1997 - Cannabis Vibes riddim)

listen to these singles :

singles with Tanto Metro :
- Aim For Your Gal / Mama Say (1999 - Reload riddim)
- Big Up Yu Status with Mega Banton (1999 - Body Workshop riddim)
- Everyone Falls In Love (1998 - Up Close & Personal riddim)
- Girls Ready (1998 - Heads Roll riddim)
- Jackie (2001 - Speak Softly riddim)

listen to these singles :