Junior Kelly interview

Discussion in 'Reggae Bashment' started by L u c y, May 8, 2010.

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  1. L u c y

    L u c y (Administrator) SWERVE

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    Fans have been eager to hear a new album from you since Tough Life in 2005. Was the five year gap intentional?

    In part. Because some of the time, in music, I think - actually I retract that - I know - you can't rush a masterpiece. Music for me is more than just money and putting together some words on a track, then putting some tracks together and releasing an album. It's a process that needs to come to fomentation to develop a proper album. I've been approached many times to do albums and 45s and so forth but you can't force the energy. Music to me is not hype and jumping on stage and having a whole lot of people running behind you. It means more to me than that and that is why I had this hiatus.
    But at the same time I've been doing a lot of tours and shows and putting together the album over that period of time and I think for me it's the right decision. Everybody has to decide as artists whether or not it's feasible to wait two years or five years before releasing another album. For me, promoting an album is a one year span and then the album is out there and people are enjoying and savouring the words and then you're ready to perform for them. Then performing an album of 15-18 tracks - depending on how wonderful the album is - can last you two and a half years. So one year of promotion, two and a half years of performance, equals three and a half years. That's my philosophy. And then the following year you start putting together another album for the fifth year. I never wanted it to be this long but sometimes things are out of your control and you have to just flow with it.

    What sort of issues have held you up?

    Getting the right people to do the mixes, getting the right producers for particular tracks (because that's what you're feeling). Getting this particular individual to sing on a particular track (because sometimes the timing is off and the person is on tour and you have to wait until they get back) and so forth. Sometimes you want particular harmonisers to work on a track and complement it properly and the harmonisers are off on tour or doing a couple of one off dates. So sometimes the coordination with my co-workers in the industry takes longer than usual.

    Would you describe yourself as something of a perfectionist then?

    (laughs) Too much of! I'm really critical of my work. For example I script 90% of my videos but I can't watch my own videos. To me, I'm not convincing enough and when everyone is saying, "Wow this is good!" I can't see it. The upside of it is it keeps me hungry. It keeps me at the drawing board. It keeps me wanting more and wanting to do more for the industry and therefore for myself. I always put the industry first. What can I do to make the industry better? What can I do to put out more work for what is still an underground music but still the most widely known underground music ever.

    how would you say the reggae scene and industry have changed since 2005?

    Well, I'm going to give it to you like this: I was in Berlin for a few days and I overheard three ladies who ranged from late teens to mid twenties to late thirties all saying the same thing. I couldn't believe a nineteen year old was saying, "the reason we came to this concert is because Kelly is one of the only artists left that is actually doing reggae". So for me, the difference between then and now is what they said. It's the creative juice. I've been to seminars and listened to promoters and booking agents from different genres speak and their main concern is that the creative process is becoming stagnant. I believe in melody, keys, chords and bridges. Orchestration, arrangement - I love that. I revel in that. It's my neck of the woods and I understand what they're saying. It's a lack of creativity and a disregard for what was set, for what we can do to complement it and make the evolved process something more of strength than weakness.
    So I think from then to now there are a lot of artists who should have been standing firm and pushing and promoting reggae music to the core. They're weighing it up in their minds, saying, "I wonder if it's feasible anymore", "I wonder if I should do some more dancehall", "Should I mix it up a bit?" - and so forth. I think it's due to economics that a lot of individuals are not staying true to the craft. Wherever the wind blows they will go and I am not like that.

    (continued below..... source United Reggae.com)
    test
  2. L u c y

    L u c y (Administrator) SWERVE

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    CONTINUED.......

    Are you saying reggae is in decline? What's the solution?

    I don't think reggae is dying. What is dying is the creative process. I can only speak for myself but I work tirelessly to come up with something different. I listen to many different genres to hear their melodies. Not to copy or steal but to have an open mind and think outside the box and bring something to the forefront. But a lot of times when I have a particular project or song or melody which is not traditional to reggae but can fit on a rhythm, everybody looks at me weirdly and won't take a chance with it. That's where they're killing an individual's creative process. They're killing somebody's ingenuity when they do that as producers. So 50% of it comes from producers not having an open mind. Not allowing an artist to come out of himself or herself. I think it's a lack of creativity because everybody is watching the economics. Dancehall is going on and they feel like they should be over there. But I always say, as long as there is hatred, grudge, bigotry, racism, terrorism, famine, hardship and injustice, this music speaks for the people that have no voice. So I have to be there for them. Even right now with the global financial situation people need this form of medicine on a daily basis to help them get through their day. So I think what's changed from then until now is a lack of creativity on the artist's part and producers not having an open mind when it comes to the production side.

    Over the years reggae and dancehall artists have been criticised abroad for the contents of their lyrics but you have not become embroiled in this to my knowledge - why is that?

    I think it has to do with me and my upbringing. My mother listened to my music and my father and other people I have a lot of respect for. I mean, what is a man without his reputation? Whether it is bad or good you must defend it. For instance, a person can't say he's bad, be bad and have that reputation and then wake up the next day and decide to be good. Everybody is going to go, "Huh? I don't believe you". So I can't decide one day, "I need some controversy. I need to mix it up. I need to do blah blah blah". I know a lot of artists think down those lines and I'm not them and I don't want to be. There have been situations that came up that could have gotten worse. But because of my level-headed behaviour - which I got from my father - I manoeuvred myself strategically to the betterment of myself. I don't think I should use any personal controversy to sell my music. I don't need that. I don't like it. I hate that. There's something that bothers me about it. It's just being vigilant. That's what keeps me out of that arena so to speak. Another thing is good advisors and good friends. I don't regard people I have known over ten years as friends anymore. They're my family and when my family speaks, I listen.

    Finally, what is the single most important driving message behind your music?

    Hmmm... wonderful question. The single most important driving message. It's actually in my liner notes! (laughs) A symbol of hope, freedom, happiness love and strength.
    (source United Reggae.com)
    test
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