Interview with ...
You’ve been known since your first album "Watchful Eyes" recorded in 1983. You were backed by the Wailers. An unforgettable experience for a young singer, right ?
I was quite joyful when I was told that the great Wailers Band, the band that backed reggae icon Bob Marley, was going to be the backing band for my LP. My producer, Roydale "Andy" Anderson, was a friend of the band members. They were more than happy to grant him a favor.
You were discovered by the music producer Roydale Anderson in a dance hall session in Rochester, New York. Tell us more about your early years.
After the “Watchful Eyes” LP, I did a few shows with a local Reggae band but that did not go over too well with some of the band members who thought I was taking the spotlight off the band. So my brother Mikey who was a bass player decided to put a band together. The band was called ”Jahmel and the Rhythm Factory”.
Can you explain the choice of your artist name ?
My given name is Melville, my family, however, they called Mel. It was some elder Rasta man in the area who started calling me Jahmel and it stuck.
You are a Twelve Tribe member. Is your faith in Jah your main inspiration to write your cultural lyrics ?
Yes, my faith as a Rastaman gives me great inspiration to write cultural lyrics.
You lived and recorded music in the USA and Jamaica. What is the difference between american and jamaican manner of making ?
It is not too different to me. Good music can come from both places.
You are also a guitarist. Do you think that being a musician makes it easier to construct a song ?
To be a musician means a great deal to put a song together. I construct most of my songs on the keyboards or the guitar.
At the beginning of the 2000s, you started to record for Donovan Germain's Penthouse label. How did you get connected ?
I was recommended to Germain by Roydale Anderson, who knew him for a long time. I joined the Penthouse family and helped out in the studio by writing and arranging songs for the family.
Talk us through your self-titled album produced by Germain in 2004. It compiled mostly 45's released during the early 2000s. How was this project born ?
I worked on the Jahmali "El Shaddai" album and when that was finished Germain said it was now my turn to make my album. I was steadily recording songs and Germain thought it would be a good idea to give me exposure through the singles.
In this album, but also in your last album "Now And Then" (produced by Roydale Anderson in 2006), there are some crossover riddims. Is this a personal choice or is it aimed at reaching a larger audience ?
Making cross-over is strictly personal. When you make music tailored to suit another market most times it comes out soft, good music comes from the heart.
You recorded for many labels. What is Donovan Germain's singularity comparing to other producers ?
I don’t think I record for many labels. If you take a keen look you will see most reggae artists record for far more producers than I do. Germain is involved in all aspect of the making of the music, and at the same time, he gave me and other artist a free hand to be creative.
When you recorded for Penthouse, Lenky was producing most of Penthouse songs. Can you tell us a little more on his way of working ?
Lenky is a gifted and talented musician who is able to come up with a good beat and melody at the drop of a hat.
Among all your singles for Penthouse, which one is your favorite ?
I have too many songs coming out of the Penthouse stable, let’s say too numerous to mention.
Why you did not record any more for Germain since 2004 ?
I will record for Penthouse again. I am still a member of the Penthouse Family. Penthouse and myself have no problem. I just strayed for a while but I will come back home soon.
Despite your talent and your experiment, you are rather not very exposed. How do you explain that ?
I don't know why I have not been a household name yet but I am positive that is coming soon. I will keep on making good music and will get the respect I deserve. But until such time I will "Meekly wait and murmur not".
To conclude, what are your plans ? I've heard your new album is due to be out soon.
Yes, I have a new CD will be released in a couple of weeks, "Timeless", including songs recorded between 2003 and 2008 by different producers like Sly and Robbie, Steely & Clevie, Roydale Anderson, Sangie Davis... There are two featurings with Bobo Zoro (who was already present on my self-titled album for Penthouse) and Heather Cummings. All the recording was done in recording studios in Kingston Jamaica : Music Works, Big Ship, Studio 2000, Channel One, Taxi Studio... Five titles are produced by Donovan Germain : "A Little Herb" (on the Answer riddim), "Life", "Count My Blessing", "Get Ready" and "Africa Awaits" (on the Some Like It Hot riddim). These songs were recorded in Penthouse studio between 2003 and 2004. The CD is powerful, it will open many more doors, it will strengthen my fan base. I tried to recreate the mood of the real dance music of the past. Great CD look out for it !!
DISCOGRAPHY ON PENTHOUSE RECORDS : |
- 24-7 (2001 - Number One riddim)
- Africa Awaits (2004 - Some Like It Hot riddim)
- Count My Blessing (2004)
- Get Ready
- Just a little herb (2003 - Answer riddim)
- J.R.E.A.M (2000 - Heavy Rock riddim)
- Life (2004)
- Love Is For Two (2003 - Love Me Always riddim)
- My Prayer (2002 - Men Love Your Women riddim)
- Natty Dread (2004 - Natty Dread A Weh She Want riddim)
- No Love In The City with Daville, Assassin, Zumjay & Demo Delgado (2000)
- No Love In Their Hearts (2000 - Tonight riddim)
- Paradise Lost (2000 - Love Of A Lifetime riddim)
- The Manue (2002 - None Of Jah Jah Children riddim)
- Wipe The Tears with Jah Mali (2001 - Forever Loving Jah riddim)
- Jahmel (2004)
tracklist on the Albums page
listen to some of these singles :