Interview with ...
How you got involved in music when you were a youth ?
I've started at a very tender age around 10-11, when I used to go play some tunes from the jukebox with my friends every sunday in my neighborhood in slattervil. I was just doing it as a hobby, we were just out there with friends trying to be happy and things in the ghetto. Those times I never saw music as a career.
You began your musical career in 1986. What brought you to music ?
My friends had a sound system in the same neighborhood called Mellow Stereo, they first called me to do a dubplate, and brought me in the studio as my first experience at King Tubby’s in Waterhouse. There I had the opportunity to meet some other artists like Tenor Saw, Johnny Osbourne… Zanadu, whose first artist name was Hog Head, who used to spar with Shabba Ranks, told me to come back to the studio again.
You have a certain silky smooth singing style. Were you influenced by other singers ?
I was influenced by a lot of different artists. First of all was my sister Peaches who brought me to stage shows, so I was a lot influenced by her performances and other voices like James Ingram, Dionne Warwick, Teddy Pendergrass, Michael Jackson as big stars to name some. Otherwise locally I was more inspired by artists such as Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs, Frankie Paul, Pinchers…
What inspired you to pursue music as a career ?
When I was going to school, I never was keen at it, I've learned how to build furnitures but I wasn't really good at it. I realized music was my thing most definitely as it brings me something that I was seeking. The encouragements from my people made me persevere more into it.
Can you explain the choice of your artist name ?
Originally my name was Baby U, as my father name Big U. When I was singing, people said it thrill them, so they started to call me Thriller U.
You recorded your 1st song for Donovan Germain in 1988. How and when did you get connected ?
I started my musical career recording for King Tubby's "Juggling" on the Tune In riddim, it became number 1 in the charts in Jamaica. After this song, I recorded for Fattis Burrell's Vena label "Raggamuffin Mi Soup" and other hits like "Sad songs", a Billy Ocean's cover, and also for Jammy's, Techniques… As my establishment was made then I get to record for Germain.
Talk us about your album "Crazy" produced by Germain in 1989, the year that you were honored Best New Singer of the Year by the Jammy Annual Awards. Where did the idea to do this album come from ?
As a young unexperienced artist it never occurs to me to do an album, to me it was more a producer's work. I just wanted to buss at this time and sing and record as much as I can.
You recorded for many top producers. What is Donovan Germain's singularity comparing to other producers ?
Germain is a producer who really knows his job, you just don't go to Germain and sing off-key, he will point it out straight. That's what I call a producer. He never let you sing off-bars or even flat.
Among all your singles for Penthouse, which one is your favorite ?
My favorite is "Innocent Man"
Penthouse Records ruled the dancehall during the 90s thanks to a recognizable sophisticated sound. Can you describe this sophisticated sound ?
Penthouse studio always carred a sound of itself, even in those analogue days it always was differencing itself by its quality studio using digital boards so it made it more "advanced". So the quality was really mellow and sweet
You have been in the reggae industry for a long time. What is your opinion about the new reggae music and the evolution of the jamaican music over these years ?
Reggae music industry has changed a lot. Reggae is not dancehall, reggae is reggae. The difference between music nowadays is that back in the days when we made music it was good music to play as global audiences, the DJs would play them on radio without having to pay them. Music today is corrupted, the DJs are producing and they tell you that your tune cyan hit because it's them alone decide what to play based on their taste. It's a very selfish business.
To conclude, what are your plans ?
Right now I'm with True Love Music, carrying the work and still making music.
DISCOGRAPHY ON PENTHOUSE RECORDS & GERMAIN RECORDS : |
singles : |
- All The Way (1989)
- Anything For You / I'll Do My Best (1993 - Lecturer riddim)
- Anything For You remix (1997 - Lecturer riddim)
- Anytime You Want (2000 - Homeless riddim)
- Big Bamboo (1988)
- Don't Say A Word (2000 - Extortioners riddim)
- Every Little Step (1991 - Feeling Soul riddim)
- Go Fi Her with L.U.S.T. (2010 - Go Fi Her riddim)
- Good Bye (1994 - Tempo riddim)
- Innocent Man (1991 - Yush riddim)
- Love Is Forever (1989)
- Missing Your Love (1991 - Chase Vampire riddim)
- Never Gonna Give You Up (1988)
- One Love Ago (1989)
- One Love Ago feat. Little Lenny (1989)
- Rain (1995 - Swing Easy riddim)
- Saved the best (1993 - Answer riddim)
- Since You Came Into My Life (1988)
- Sweet Vanessa (1992 - College Rock riddim)
- You Are So Sweet (1997)
- Crazy (1989) tracklist on the Albums page
listen to these singles :