Interview with ...
First, can you explain the choice of your artist name ?
I got the name from a group of Jamaican high school boys who started off by calling me Tweetie. As they said I sang like a bird but after shouting the name in public a few times, we decided to change it to Twiggi as it rolled off the tongue much easier so that's how the name Twiggi came about, but most people think I got the name because I'm petite (skinny).
You began your musical career in 1989. What brought you to music ?
What brought me to the music ? Let me see... I always loved singing but used to focus on dancing as I am just as good a dancer. So my sister knowing I could sing, had contacts with the singer Tinga Stewart and she introduced me to him. He was kind enough to give me an audition in the studio to do background tracks on a brand new single of his and I guess I did a great job because he took me and introduced me to other producers like Boris Gardener, Ruddy Thomas to name a few and words spread and that's how I got into music.
Like many jamaican singers, you sang at church during your youth. Did you learn singing at Church ?
Yes I have been singing in church from the age of five but I did not learn there. I got exposure to crowds and all but my talent came from God himself before I even came out of the womb.
You have a certain soulful smooth vocal style. Were you influenced by other jamaican and american singers ?
I was influenced by mostly american vocalists at the time as I did not listen to many jamaican vocalists. The three most influencial vocalists for me then were Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin and Mariah Carey. For the jamaicans I would say Pam Hall and Marcia Griffiths.
Who are your favorite female singers among the current generation ?
I am not sure who's my favourite current singer... Maybe Beyonce... I don't really listen to current music like that anymore.
Despite your talent and your experiment, you are rather not very exposed, like the majority of the female artists in Jamaica. How do you explain that women do not have as much credibility as men in the reggae music industry ?
I really don't know why women don't have as much credibility as the men in the industry ... Maybe we are not aggressive enough and we can be easily exploited and the producers know that if they don't give us our fair due that nothing will come out of it.
You write many love songs. Where do you find inspiration ?
As for the love songs, there were really no special inspiration. I just have a vivid imagination. For example, I wrote "Where did the love go" when I was about 15 without ever being in a relationship but I used to read a lot of romance novels and the rest of the songs, I wrote from people's relationship and throwing words at two male bestfriends (smile) but guess what, the songs I wrote I ended up living most of them !!.
You recorded your 1st song for Donovan Germain's Penthouse label in 1993. How did you get connected ?
As I stated before that Tinga Stewart because he was impressed with my work done for him introduced me to other producers and we did a lot of work at Penthouse. So Germain was familiar with me and I guess he liked what he heard. In 1993, while I was on a tour in Japan working with the Japanese company Tachyon, Germain who was also on the tour acompanying Buju Banton approached me and asked me to be a part of Penthouse crew and that was how I got to do my first single for him in 1993.
Did you integrate the Penthouse team to make background vocals or directly as a lead vocalist ?
I integrated Penthouse as a lead vocalist but at the time I was very popular as a background vocalist on stage and in the studio so they used up all my abilites and I did a little of both.
You recorded an album with Lorraine in 1995 called "JaJaJah All Stars sings Mariah Carey" for Sony Records Japan. Tell us more about about this original project.
The "JaJaJah All Stars" project as you know was done for Sony Japan and I was originally supposed to do that project solo but Mariah Carey and her husband, the head of Sony at the time, would not have it that one person should do the project. So they integrated Lorraine, who is a wonderful talent and great to work with to fulfill the project which was very successful even from the first week of release in Japan it sold over a hundred thousand copies (so I hear) and because of that it was withdrawn from the market by Mariah who thought that it was competing with her original songs.
You recorded for many labels (Digital B, Shocking Vibes...). What is Donovan Germain's singularity comparing to other producers ?
Having the opportunity to record with Digital B, Shocking Vibes and Penthouse, I realized as an artist that it was all up to me to produce quality songs, they gave me the opportunitiy to work freely and how I see fit, Germain did not specify much, he only strived for perfection but so did the others.
When you recorded for Penthouse, Dave Kelly then Lenky were producing most of Penthouse songs. Can you tell us a little more on their way of working ?
Being around, Dave Kelly, Lenky and don't forget Tony Kelly and watching them work at Penthouse when I was there was very interesting, each individual had their own way of doing things... Dave was very mature, serious and very creative, Tony on the other hand was very fun loving, creative and knew what he wanted, as for Lenky, he was the mad scientist, eccentric and overly creative but they all strived for one thing, perfection, and that was heard in the music.
At the strong moment of your collaboration with Germain, you belonged to Penthouse Crew, which featured artists such as Buju Banton (with who you did some combinations), Tony Rebel, Wayne Wonder, Beres Hammond or Marcia Griffiths. How was the atmosphere between artists at that time in the recording studio ?
The atmosphere between all the Penthouse artists at the time I was there was great. We were like family, it was pretty cool.
Among all your singles for Penthouse, which one is your favorite ?
Hum... My favourite single that I recorded... I really don't have a special one, I love them all but there is one I like to listen to as I think the vocals were great. It's "Tears on my Pillow".
Talk us about your self-titled debut album produced by Germain in 1996. How was this project born ?
Since my inception at Penthouse, I recorded single after single and they were all chart toppers and I was becoming very popular so I guess Germain thought it was time to do the right thing and release an album so he basically gathered all the hit songs and songs that was previously recorded but not released and I added some new songs and that's how my self titled album was born in 1996.
Your last single for Penthouse was “Praises” on Storm riddim in 2002. Why you did not record any more for Germain since ?
In 1997, I moved on from Penthouse. In 1998, I became a christian and I migrated to Florida USA in 2000, then I was in and out of Jamaica trying to stay abreast of things and on one of my travels I visited Germain at Penthouse and we collaborated and the song "Praises" was born.... I have not been to Penthouse since.
How do you explain the slowdown of Penthouse releases for a few years ?
I really do not know why there is a slow down of releases there but maybe it's because most of the artists are not there anymore or maybe Germain is taking a break.
To conclude, what are your plans ?
Well this is the big question... My plans... In 1997, I became a Shocking Vibes artist, still is and even though I became a christian and thought that I was not an asset to them they kept me on the team and I recorded a reggae but contemporary gospel album for the label in 2002. I went on to do my own thing for the years leading up to 2006 and so I guess out of sight, out of mind and the album has not been released. But for 2007, I am stepping up to the plate and I know it's time for this album to be released. So I am making the necessarry preparations by the guidance of God himself and hoping that Patrick Roberts (Shocking Vibes boss) will do his part to release me before the year is up so my voice can be out there and I can start touring again as a child of God but still "TWIGGI"... God bless !
DISCOGRAPHY ON PENTHOUSE : |
- Breaking My Heart (1996 - Try A little Smile riddim)
- Can't Let Go
- Do Me Baby (1993 - Freedom Blues riddim)
- Fooled By Your Love (1995 - Things Come Up To Bump riddim)
- Friends (1996 - Who Is Like Selassie riddim)
- Giving Him (1993 - Heavy Rock riddim)
- I Don't Want To Loose You (1997 - Lecturer riddim)
- I'll Be There (1993- Ina Dis Ya Time riddim)
- I Want Your Love (1994 - Tempo riddim)
- It Feels So Good (1996 - Lion Rules riddim)
- Just Ain't Enough (1993 - Lecturer riddim)
- No More with Wayne Wonder (1995 - Love & Hate riddim)
- Nothing Between Us (1996)
- Praises (2002 - Storm riddim)
- Right Romance with Buju Banton (1996 - Lion Rules riddim)
- Say You Love Me (1996 - Land Of Love riddim)
- Tears On My Pillow (1997)
- Temptation (1996 - Single Parent riddim)
- The Tide Is High (1996)
- Too Late (1994 - Champion riddim)
- Want It with Buju Banton (1994 - Tempo riddim)
- Where Did The Love Go (1993 - Far East riddim)
- You're In My Heart (1996)
- Twiggi (1996) - tracklist on the Albums page
listen to these singles :
For more information about Twiggi, check her Website