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Interview: Obrian Williams from Mystikal Revolution

Interview: Obrian Williams from Mystikal Revolution

Interview: Obrian Williams from Mystikal Revolution

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Culture lives on with Mystikal Revolution.

Sampler

Mystikal Revolution reggae band 2013

Mystikal Revolution is one of the latest bands emerging from Jamaica. Their rock-fueled roots reggae has gained them a lot of attention and their debut album Divide and Rule has received rave reviews around the world. United Reggae had a chat with drummer and band leader Obrian Williams, a relaxed Jamaican that defied his parents to do what he loves.

So, the Jamaican band craze has got a recent addition – the rock-sounding six piece outfit Mystikal Revolution. Five of the members are former students at the famous Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston, Jamaica, home to a bunch of acclaimed Jamaican musicians.

Obrian Williams is the youngest member and was recruited because he played reggae, while most other drummers at Edna Manley were into pop music. To get into Edna Manley he had to sneak behind his parents back, since they were against him being a musician.

My parents wanted me to do corporate work, be a journalist or whatever. But I never wanted it. I wanted to capitalize on my creativity and be among people that shared the same vision and dream. I wanted to be at a place where everybody shares something good,” explains Obrian Williams.

Growing fan base

I reach him on the phone from his home in Portmore, Jamaica. He’s relaxed and lies on the sofa during the interview. He’s excited about the band’s debut album Divide and Rule and its success around the world.

We get tweets and messages from all over the world and the feedback has been great. France, UK, Kenya, Mexico, Romania, just to name a few countries,” he explains, and adds:

Our fan base is growing. It’s more European now.

He says that part of the success is probably thanks to their diverse sound.

Anybody can listen to it. Approach music like that and you will get a fan base from all over,” he says.

Diverse sound

Mystikal Revolution Divide and Rule 2013 artworkThe diverse sound Obrian refers to is Mystikal Revolution’s clear rock influences. According to him they play hardcore roots rock reggae. The hardcore partly comes from lead singer Sanjay “Stunna” Barrett’s raspy voice.

The rock influences come from our lead guitarist who listens to a lot of blues and rock, but roots is the overall approach to the sound. We have a diverse sound, a sound that is marketable and mainstream,” says Obrian, and continues to explain the band’s goal:

We want to reach the top of the international market with an international approach in terms of sound. A more diverse sound, and with the right blend we can attract a wide audience, because it’s different and people like different stuff.

Divide and Rule was produced by the band themselves, mostly by Obrian, who also is the executive producer.

We wanted that exclusivity for the first album, and to know that the first album was produced by us. We had no collaborations on the album at first,” he explains.

Notable guest artists

But that changed. And on the end-product several acclaimed Jamaican artists turned up, including Sizzla, Tarrus Riley, Bunny Rugs and Queen Ifrica, who sings on the cultural hit song Black Woman.

We were in the studio and Tarrus Riley and Bunny Rugs came by. They had ten minutes and went in and just sung. That was it,” laughs Obrian, and continues:

We were like, ok, cool. It was a great experience and we’re privileged to have worked with such internationally acclaimed reggae artists.

As for Sizzla goes, Obrian explains that they were doing an event in Jamaica and he came on stage vibing.

Then he contacted us and wanted to do something. He liked the sound we had, went studio and put it together.

“Dance a yard before you dance abroad”

The promotion of the album is a rather unusual one since it was initially only released in Jamaica. For about a month it wasn’t available anywhere else.

They were asking for the album in Jamaica. People wanted it and we wanted to get acceptance in the yard. You know, you have to dance a yard before you dance abroad,” he explains, and continues: 

The launch was huge with a lot of people, lot of well-known reggae producers. Mikey Bennet said our album was one of the best albums in ages,” he explains proudly.

Culture is what the people want

The album title comes from the song of the same name. It was the first track the band ever recorded.

It’s also a hopeful title and something to gravitate to. Reggae is positive music with songs that motivate people and inspire them. Black Woman, for example, was a big cultural hit. Especially for women. It made them more confident,” he believes, and concludes: 

Dancehall is in the moment, culture will live on, that’s what the people want – roots and culture.

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