Dubspot Interviews Jahdan Blakkamoore: Working w/ Electronic Music Producers +


[Jahdan Blakkamoore - "Dem Nuh Like It feat. 77Klash and Spoek Mathambo"]

The path that Jahdan Blakkamoore has followed is one spliced with constant forks leading to new and varied enclaves of creativity. Whether it be his early collaborations with hip hop acts, forays into electronically enhanced ideas, or his earthy deviations – there’s much to be discovered. Through this wandering he seeks a larger purpose; “I want to transcend social, racial, and age barriers,” he explains in an interview with Dubspot. “I want my music to inspire positive change around the world.”

But it’s much more than diversity for the sake of it. The Brooklyn-based vocalist pays close attention to the substance of the songs he rocks over, abiding by some basic tenants when choosing a song: “The musical composition in itself has to have a distinct personality, the track has to say something and have room for me to say something back.”

And of course, the lyrics Jahdan pens forge a similar route as his eclectic musical interactions. Within one song, he’ll touch on the impact of those in power on the youth, the blowback that ensues from their neglect of them, the importance of personal responsibility, and the need for peaceful solutions to such cycles of violence.

High standards of creative integrity are standard here as well. He brings together quality singing, clever rhymes, poignant subject matter, and an engaging presence on stage. Turning a party out and making people think are not entirely separate acts in his world.

With such a conscious outlook, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Guyanese artist frequently works in acoustic and rootical environs. To many, he is best known as the lead for his roots band, Noble Society. And his last album, Babylon Nightmare, was a sunny release that blended organic hip hop, R&B, and reggae.


[Jahdan Blakkamoore - "All Comes Back To One"]

Not many musicians are so comfortable within both worlds, but Jahdan is an exception. Case in point is his embrace of autoune. “I love autotune when it’s used correctly, hate it when it’s taken over board,” he opines. “Celine Dion used it for many years and no one even knew because she can actually sing. I love all of the new technology when used with taste.”

A remix EP of the first single of Babylon Nightmare, “All Comes Back to One“, just recently dropped. It spotlights his affinity for a broad range of styles, spanning dubwise hip hop, jungle, dubstep and more. Although he didn’t choose those remixers himself, he’s worked directly with most of them in the past. “As far as production is concerned I’m very blessed to have a strong self contained crew of vocalists and musicians, so I don’t have to go outside of my circle too often for anything.”

But Jahdan’s close affiliation with the Dutty Artz crew exemplifies his warmth towards new technologies best. Look at the grimey “Brooklyn Anthem“, the dubstep track “The General“, or the LP they collaborated on, Buzzrock Warrior. This album comes full circle with the aforementioned interests; it’s submersed in techie inclinations but draws from worldly influences. A quick survey of some of the guest producers of the album sums up that outlook concisely: from Durrty Goodz to Modeselektor to Chancha via Circuito (who we just wrote about). “My initial reaction to Dutty Artz music was inspiring – I knew that they had something special and unique,” Jahdan recalls.

This is his personality as an artist – open minded, forward thinking, and diverse. And he hopes that’s what people come to expect of him: “I think my fanbase is open minded enough to over-stand what I’m about by now.” - MS


[77klash feat. Jahdan - "Brooklyn Anthem"]

JAHDAN CHATS WITH DUBSPOT

What’s the best way for a producer to approach a vocalist they’d like to work with?

It’s good when a producer can create a track with a direction that the vocalist can build off of. I’m used to working with producers that are also great musicians as well so they bring a lot more to the table. To me it depends on the direction the producer wants to go with the project, that determines everything.

How do you approach a live performance?

If it’s a live band show the first thing I do is rehearse with the band I’m performing with to perfect key points in our show – go over my lyrics, go over intros and outros to each song – stuff like that. Same for a DJ set. I just try to get in the right mental place to do the best performance I can.

Were you involved in choosing the remixers for the All Comes Back To One Remix EP?

No I was not involved with choosing the remixes, that was handled by Andrew “Moon” Bain, the producer of the song. Moon reached out to them, got the tracks, and set everything in motion. He let me hear the finished product and I give the OK. Moon usually sends the vocals over as is and everything is synced up to the vocals. I met Moon through my producer Fuego Campo. Check out my band Noble Society.


[Jahdan Blakkamoore - "All Comes Back To One Nate Mars RMX)". Photo: Jahdan with Noble Society producer Fuego Campo by Amir Ebrahimi.]

How did you start working with Dutty Artz?

I was introduced to Matt Shadetek and DJ /rupture by our mutual friend 77Klash some years ago. Klash was recording with Matt at that time. We then set out to record a song called “Brooklyn Anthem” years later for 77Klash’s project. My initial reaction to Dutty Artz music was inspiring – I knew that they had something special and unique.

How is your work with electronic musicians perceived in the dancehall reggae community?

Reggae and dancehall fans seem to really like what I’m doing with electronic music. I performed some tunes from my Buzzrock Warrior album in California at the Reggae On The River festival last year which got a great response from the crowd. I think my fanbase is open minded enough to overstand what I’m about by now.

Do you find that people who know you from Noble Society are interested in the electronic work?

Yes, I feel like our Noble Society fans are definitely interested in what Dutty Artz and I have done with the Buzz Warrior project. It shows them a different side of Jahdan, I want them to see the versatility I possess as a song writer. I haven’t been involved in the local reggae seen too much any more, that was many years ago for me. I’m more concerned now with broadening my horizons. As far as production is concerned I’m very blessed to have a strong self contained crew of vocalists and musicians, so I don’t have to go outside of my circle too often for anything unless I’m hired to do a feature.


[Smif-n-Wessun - "Sound Bwoy Bureill feat Jahdan"]

What type of input do you give on the riddims when in the lab with a producer?

My input on production varies when I’m in the lab with my producers, it all depends on the vibe. Sometimes I hear a completely finished track and I’ll just start writing to it, other times I’m more involved with the creative process in which case it’s a collaborative effort. I bring a lot to the table in that scenario because I play keys a bit and I usually know what I want to hear. I look for melody, space to breath, bottom end, and the head nod appeal. The musical composition in itself has to have a distinct personality, the track has to say something and have room for me to say something back.

How do you feel about autotune?

I love autotune when it’s used correctly, hate it when it’s taken over board. Celine Dion used it for many years and no one even knew because she can actually sing. I love all of the new technology when used with taste.

What goals do you have for your music in the future?

I want to transcend social, racial and age barriers. I want my music to inspire positive change around the world, and at the same time provide my colleagues and I with a sustainable lifestyle.

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  • 5/12/2011

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