Interview with ...
Please introduce yourself to those reggae fans who don't know you as yet. Where do you come from ? How did you start your musical career ?
I am Simone Fletcher, a Jamaican musician. Iíve been playing music for as long as I can remember, however, it wasnít until 2007 that I started making riddims. The story behind the creation of my first riddim is actually funny. One of my friends, Andrae, told me about a producer he had met who was really good at making beats with Fruityloops and he thought that I should give it a try. Initially I was reluctant but when he said "or maybe you just canít", that made me want to prove a point. I downloaded Fruitloops and after a few attempts I came up with both the "Serve and Protect" and "Nylon" riddims. Andrae took the "Nylon riddim" to Shane Brown and he liked it and that is how it all began.
What was your first riddim released by a label ?
The Nylon riddim was the first riddim released by a label, for Jukeboxx in 2009
You play different instruments. Where did you learn to play them ?
Keyboard/Piano is my main instrument; I play the guitar but not to an appreciable level. My father was the first person to introduce me to music, I was about five years old at the time. Back then I wasnít really interested in music but he insisted that I at least learn the names of the keys and the melody of a couple songs. It wasnít until I was about 15 that I started playing in church. After high school I pursued a certificate course in Popular Music Studies at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts as a Piano Major. I had an excellent piano tutor, Michael "Ibo" Cooper.
Could you describe the way you build a riddim ?
I wouldnít say there is a particular way I go about creating a riddim. I may be doing something and a melody line comes to mind, or I may be playing the keyboard and the chords just lead to a progression which eventually leads to the track.
Do you also play instruments on stage with some bands ?
Iíve only done so a few times but that is something I would want to do more often. Iíve played keyboard for both Sanchez and Alaine in the past.
Are you influenced by other musical styles ?
I listen to a variety of music and in some way they have all contributed to my musical identity. I am particularly fond of Jazz and Latin music.
How did you meet Donovan Germain ?
I met Donovan through Shane Brown. He heard the riddims that I had done for Shane and decided he wanted to work with me.
What was your first riddim released by Penthouse ?
The Serve and Protect riddim.
You were the main composer for 2 of the biggest albums released in 2010 the Romain Virgo's debut album and Sanchez's "Now And Forever".
Yes, for Romainís album, I composed the tracks for "Who Feels It Knows It", "Taking You Home", "As The Money Done" and "No Money". For Sanchezís album, I composed the tracks for "Wonít Surrender", "Who Am I Without You", "Longing To Come Home", "Iím For Real" and "I Can Feel It".
You built most of the latest big riddims produced by Penthouse since 3 years. Could you tell us more about them ?
As was mentioned earlier, "Serve and Protect" was one of the first riddims to be created. It is a rather simple track; the only thing "fancy" about it is the pizzicato run that repeats every eight bars. I think Queen Ifrica and Romain Virgo did justice to that riddim.
"Working Hard riddim" was actually created long before many of the others on the list, but I donít remember when exactly it was done. I think it has more of a traditional reggae feel than any of my other tracks.
"Big Stage riddim" is another simple track and the common I-V-IV progression makes its chorus easy to write and sing to. I particularly like Alaineís "Still Smiling", Sherietaís "Reggae Is Life", Romain Virgoís "Taking You Home" and Marcia Griffithís "Beer and a Girl".
"No Money" and "O.M.G" riddims are a bit more involved in terms of their instrumentation and are two of my favourites. Donovan was the one who actually gave the riddims their titles and so it would be interesting to hear how he came up with the names.
Do you work with other labels except Penthouse and Jukeboxx ?
Iím not restricted to Penthouse and Jukeboxx, however, I have not worked with any other labels so far.
Tell us about your collaboration with Donovan Germain. Does he ask you to create a particular riddim or do you propose him directly your personal creations ?
The latter is usually the case.
Do you work with the mixing engineers in Penthouse studio or they are free to mix your riddims like they feel ?
On occasion I might add some effects to the tracks Iíve created but I donít really contribute to the mixing.
During the golden years of Penthouse Records, which songs left you most memories ?
Buju Banton "Untold Stories" and "Champion", Marcia Griffiths "Land Of Love".
Riddim makers such as Dave Kelly, his brother Tony Kelly and Steven "Lenky" Marsden took benefit from their passage in Penthouse's studio to acquire experience and a recognition enabling them to create their own labels. Is it one of your goals ?
It is but I currently have my hands tied with studying.
Who are your favorite jamaican artists among the current generation ?
Queen Ifrica, Tarrus Riley, Tesanne Chin, Romain Virgo and C-Sharp Band.
Could you tell us more about your studies in medical sciences?
I am in my third year of medicine at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus. After completing medical school I want to specialise in either Cardiothoracic surgery or Neurosurgery.
Are you going to continue your studies in parallel with your musical career ?
Definitely, music isnít something I can stop doing, thatís impossible.
To conclude, what are you planning for your future works ? You composed the riddim of "Another Day Another Dollar" on the latest Romain Virgo's album.
I am always trying to improve my craft and I still have a far way to go. I will definitely continue to make more reggae riddims but Iíll be exploring other genres as well.
RIDDIMS FOR PENTHOUSE RECORDS : |
- Big Stage riddim (2010)
- No Money riddim (2011)
- O.M.G riddim (2011)
- Serve and Protect riddim (2009)
- Working hard riddim (2010)
listen to these riddims :