Interview with ...
You grew up in Trench Town, one of the roughest place in Kingston. How was life in this place ? Do you always live there ?
Life is pretty rough for me in Trench Town as I'm still living there, there is no opportunities, gang related violence makes no one wants to come there, otherwise it can be good at times when it comes to fun e.g dancehall parties and the fact that it the home of the legend but the people don't cherish that legacy. I was born and raised in Trench Town and it's a daily learning experience, a place I would call a ghetto college and most of the songs I've wrote is from things happening there.
You began your career with Claude Sinclair (Big Stone's producer) under the artist name Honey Comb. Tell us more about your early years.
Actually I started my career from being at Black Roots studio as an engineer. I recorded my first single for the sprinter stayer label entitled (evil system) under the artiste name Singing Honey. It was when I met Claude Sinclair he changed my name to Honey Comb and then finding out there was an other artiste going by that name he started spelling the Comb differently (Cone). I recorded a couple singles, songs like "On and On", "Let them stumble", "Black woman" and "Full time". I also learned stage performance from being among Claude rollin with Turbulence before he got recognized.
Were you influenced by other artists ?
My main influence was Luciano and I listen a couple others like Sizzla, Beres Hammond and Buju Banton.
Your artist name Torch was given to you by Tony Rebel (who is the brother of another artist called Honey Comb !) when you were in studio. Could you tell us more about this moment ?
When I met Gemain I was going by the name Honey Cone. He was the one that let me knew the person that I had the same artist name like which was Tony Rebel's brother. Then we were in the studio recording a song and Tony was there. At the time Germain was searching for a name to call me and he asked Tony what kind of an artiste name we could give to this artiste and Rebel replied the youth a blaze like a Torch and Germain said that it, Torch and from ever since I became the Torch.
You are one of the most talented songwriter of the new artist generation in Jamaica. You write conscious and personal lyrics. Why this choice while many other young artists prefer writing less conscious lyrics ?
Writing conscious music takes me back to when Claude Sinclair and I first met, I was singing a gangster song that I wrote and from listening to the words and how it was well formulated he said to me : "you know it would be better if you write conscious lyrics instead because you are very talented" and there was a lot to write about the place that I came from and I wrote my first conscious single ("On and On"). After that my life changed and I became a positive influence in many lives, that also changed me from a negative power to the positive power which I am today.
Where do you find inspiration for lyrics ?
I found inspiration from all around me most of the songs that I've wrote is a reflection of other peoples lives, some of them is still around many have passed and gone may their souls rest in peace. Some are from my own personal experiences.
You met Donovan Germain in 2003. How did you get connected ?
I met Mr. Germain through a friend of mine Mr. Mark Benjamin which I'm greatful for.
In 2005, some times after the beginning of your collaboration with Germain and your first hit songs for Penthouse like "Quality Time" or "So Let It Be", you turned with Buju Banton. What did this experience bring you ?
Now after gaining my first hit “Quality time”, Germain started bring me on the tours with Buju as he was Buju's manager. The experience was wonderful cause it took me to a lot of places, placed me on a lot of shows and just to name a few places that I've been to : Barbados, St Kitts, St Marteen and in the US (Atlanta, Orlando Florida, Miami and New York). The biggest venues were reggae on the hills in Barbados and Madison Square Gardens in N.Y.
You recorded for many well known record labels (Fifth Elements, Loyal soldiers, One Blood Productions, Gargamel Music...). What is Donovan Germain's singularity comparing to other producers ?
There is no comparison because Germain's record label is worldwide, no offence to the other labels they are also great but Penthouse has always been there for me not just to record the artists and then forget about me but he also respects and helps me in every aspect of my life.
Among all your singles for Penthouse, which one is your favorite ?
I don't really have any favorite among the songs that I have done for Penthouse because I put the same amount of interest in every song that I've wrote but the songs that made me an household name internationally are “Quality time” flip side “Teach the youths” and “So let it be”. I would have to go with those, but I love all my work because it is from the heart and not just something that I made up.
Are you actually managed by Donovan Germain ?
Mr. Germain and I have a musical relationship but pertaining to a contract we have no written agreement.
You recorded for Penthouse in the new recording studio (6 Ballater Avenue) but also in the old (56 Slipe Road). What are the differences between these studios ? What do you think of Penthouse new studio equipments ?
The difference between the two studios is that back at (56 Slipe road) songs were recorded on DA machines and sometimes the 24 track machine but in the new recording studio we have state of the arts machines. The thing about these machines is that you don't have to worry about 24 tracks been worn out but everything is pretty much the same cause Germain still records live instruments so you still get the real feel of sounds everytime.
Do you earn a living with music or you have another job ?
Music is my main source of earning but sometimes I do make some money in my spear time, I'm currently trying to start my own business to help with daily living.
You have a Myspace. What is your personal use of internet ?
I have two Myspace addresses : fyahtorch and torchtunes . My main cause of using Myspace is to give people a chance to actually know the Torch if you haven't seen my face before are heard a song from Torch. My main interest for using the internet is to run my new business that I was telling you about.
Which are, according to you, the positive and negative consequences of internet on the reggae business ?
The positive thing about internet is that it enables people from all across the world to view and listen to an artist music all at the same time. The negative consequences is that i've heard a lot of producers crying and said when it comes to sales the free downloads make it practically hard for them to make back their production money and that stops them from putting out other future works because they are not make back nothing to put back into it.
To conclude, what are your plans ?
My plan is to stay focus keep making positive music which the world needs a lot more of especially in these times and keep on being the LIGHT IN THESE DARK TIMES.
DISCOGRAPHY ON PENTHOUSE RECORDS : |
- All I Want To See (2006 - Continuation riddim)
- Free Up (2008)
- How Does It Feel (2003 - Love Me Always riddim)
- I've Got To Love (2003 - Love Me Always riddim)
- I Need Your Love (2008 - College Rock riddim)
- Look At This World (2004 - Time Will Tell riddim)
- No Escape (2008)
- Nuh Easy (2008)
- Quality Time (2005 - Tonight riddim)
- So Let It Be (2004 - Some Like It Hot riddim)
- Teach The Youths (2005)
- Treat Her Like a Lady (2008 - Automatic riddim)
- They Can't Stop Me (2005 - Migraine riddim)
- You Deserve More (2004)
listen to some of these singles :
Acapella rehearsal in Penthouse studio (2005) : watch the video.