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Interview: Perfect (2012)

Interview: Perfect (2012)

Interview: Perfect (2012)

By on - Photos by Root Cultjah - Comment

"If I was approached by Sly & Robbie to make an album I would do it"


Anyone who knows Perfect understands he has many sides. And just as in 2009 he followed up his highly rootsy second album for IrieVibrations 'Born Dead With Life' with the lovers of 'Karma' for his own Chalice Palace Records, now he has countered last year's equally organic and cultural sixth effort with Lustre Kings 'Back For The First Time' with another American produced effort for Seattle's Dynasty Records 'Journey Of 1000 Miles'. It's a more digital release than the vintage musicianship of 'Back For The First Time' and contains sojourns into pop like the Lady Gaga name-checking Roll With The Billionaires. But, as he explains to Angus Taylor, while stopping in Massachusetts after his European tour, it's all part of a wider plan of diversification for the Perfect brand - including some forays out of music into smoking paraphernalia...


Your new album is called Journey Of A Thousand Miles - the meaning?

Every step you take in life is a journey. And apart from the musical side of Perfect there's also a personal side. Over the years there have been a lot of ups and downs combined musically and personally when it comes to my career so this album is just thinking of how I have trod over the years up until now.

What kinds of ups and downs have you faced in your career?

You have politics in the business - that's number one. Sometimes you think you could have done more or been much more of a household name so to speak. Problems with record companies, promoters and sometimes people who come along and call themselves managers or advisors. Music is just like any other job out there - it's just that when you get off stage from performing for the people a lot of people don't know what happens next.

Hip-hop is structured as an "in the office" business... reggae is still "out of the office" so to speak

However, the reggae business does seem to have more than its fare share of hangers on and managers. Why?

Yes, I do agree on that. Firstly it's because reggae was officially born in the poor man's backyard. And at the time when reggae was born it was a breadbasket for a lot of uneducated people who often never had jobs and probably dropped out of school early. So this was a way to earn a dollar for them and keep bread on the table. Personally I don't think reggae has really graduated from that stage. You've had people who have come along and tried to move it to another level but reggae is still "out of the office" so to speak. It's not well structured. That's partly why it has the effect it has on people - because it's not a business like hip-hop or R&B.

How is it different?

A Hip-hop artist can do a single this year and then a followup single the next couple of years! He's on tour, record sales are going on, he's getting drawn into his publishing and everything's all set - because hip-hop is structured as an "in the office" business. Reggae wasn't structured like that. It was born into the hands of less fortunate, uneducated, under privileged - people who have been brutalised by the system. So that whole essence still lies around the music we call reggae until today. So many people see reggae as a hustling zone. You have a lot of people who don't have any idea about reggae itself and they still step into it. And as a result of that, you have people who come into the so called business of reggae and try to give it a help but when they get into the meat of it they see it's not structured like an official business. You've had business people over the years who have tried to privately invest into it - some have worked out and some haven't. The majority of them have stepped back. So you have different people who try to enter into the business to see what it's all about - some come in with a good heart and others don't. The ones that don't come with a good heart - they mess things up worse.

What do you think is the solution? Is there any solution needed? Or does the lack of structure give a degree of creative freedom and access for people that other more systematized forms of music wouldn't allow?

PerfectArtists need to be more educated about the whole business of music. Because whether you like it or not or you think it's real or not, it is  a fact that there is a business side of music. So if you're not educated about it then it's possible you won't get the mileage you're looking for out of this.

Taking the title of your album literally, you've done a lot of travelling in your career. When you were young and growing up in St Ann, did you think you were going to do as much travelling as you've done today?

I knew I was going to travel a lot. Because back in Jamaica you have what they call the Revival Group. It's a religious group - there's a Pocomania order, a Revival order, it's coming from Africa. In Jamaica people see them as also being Obeah, black magic people. So if someone fell sick and said an evil spirit was upon them the Revival Church is one of the first churches they would take those people to try to get them back together. And in that order you have a Mother Woman - like a chief. Now, when I was young, about 15 years old and going to High School, there was a Revival Group that used to come to the square in Browns Town. I was always kind of scared of those people. One Friday afternoon I was coming from school through Browns Town when the chief, the Mother Woman - who was wearing red when the others were in white - she just pointed at me and said "You! Come here!" I was a bit scared but people were like "Oh! The Mother Woman, she called, so go!" She said "Let me see your hand" and said "You're going to go all around the world. You're going to fly like a bird. Go fly fly fly!" When I'm on a plane sometimes I flash back to that and she was right!

The Mother Woman pointed at me and said "You! Come here! You're going to go all around the world. You're going to fly like a bird"

You spent a while working with European producers on your albums Born Dead With Life (IrieVibrations) and French Connection (DJ Sherkhan) and now you've completed your second album in a row with an American producer - first Lustre Kings and now Dynasty Records. Is there any plan to that or is it just where you land and how it happens?

It's just that when you're on the road you meet different people, go in different studios with different producers and stuff. It so happened I was in Oregon when this label in Washington heard I was in America and wanted me to voice two singles. Then they were interested in voicing two more songs so we went up there and had a good session so we now had four songs. They were young guys, very talented, and while we were there the idea of an album came up. So the same afternoon we started working on it. All the songs for the album were separate from the four songs that we voiced because we just got into a creative moment and started coming up with lots of ideas and concepts and took it from there!

This album is a lot more digital than your previous album Back For The First Time with Lustre Kings. Is every album the chance to show a different side of Perfect?

That is what I always try to do. You don't want your albums to be monotonous for the fans. If a fan has your albums in their house they should be able to listen to you depending on the moment that they're in. Some days you just wake up and want to hear a different type of rhythm -  something relaxing or something popular. Sometimes when you're driving down the highway we just want to hear something different. So what I'm trying to do is make myself available for that moment. Because I have fans who are not just lovers of reggae, they are lovers of other genres too, and I don't think it's a problem if you want to listen to another genre today and Perfect is in that genre too as one of the artists that you love. I think it's going to be so good that you can play him in a different genre and smile about it.

You don't want your albums to be monotonous for the fans. Sometimes when you're driving down the highway we just want to hear something different

Let's talk about a couple of the tracks on the album. The song One Week - is going away into seclusion for one week a metaphor or do you actually do that?

That is the life that we lived. Living back in Bamboo when we used to link up with the Bobo elders we used to just venture out of the community for a week or two and just be in the hills farming. Sometimes it was just to get away from Babylon because no matter how small our community was we always thought it was so called Babylon for us. Sometimes we would seven or nine miles away into the jungle because there was a dense woodland in the Bamboo area that reaches right back to Nine Mile where Bob Marley is from. So we used to go seven to nine miles into the dense wood forest and just camp out with herbs and fuljoyment and just be free and exalt the name of The Most High and give thanks and praises.

And when you returned into the community - did you feel different?

Whenever we reached forward into the community you'd feel so strong. It was like a breath of fresh air because you have grown spiritually, physically and mentally. Because you'd get to think properly when you were away from the so-called system and you'd go deep and commune more with your acceptance and the whole African vibe that was in the air. So when you'd reach into the community again there would be a big smile on your face so sometimes people would wonder what you were so happy about and why! But it was just being free for a moment before coming back into the system and watching the people and knowing everyone could be free and live this life.

I have never been to Africa

Have you got any plans to go to Africa this year?

I have never been to Africa. I went as far as the Aegean but I haven't been to what is now called Africa. Plans are in the making to go to Africa. Personally I haven't officially booked for a show in Africa yet but I have had promoters making suggestions and having ideas about flying me in and keeping a show down in Africa. But it has never been an official booking so who knows maybe this year I will go to Africa.

Let's talk about another album track, Dinner Time, where you talk about the lack of meat in your diet. On a typical day what would your diet consist of? Have you ever been in a situation when you were on tour and unable to get the food your diet required?

PerfectIn the morning time I would usually be eating fruits or cereal - because I like eating cereal too. A tofu sandwich or some type of vegetarian sandwich. But I'm a person who likes to eat differently on different days. Some days I'll just have fruits alone. I don't really get stuck on one type of meal. Recently I was on tour for two days and just having fruits. There was plenty of food that was of my type that I could have eaten but I was just feeling for fruits. In France and Italy it can be a bit tricky for food because the majority of the restaurants aren't open until 6 o'clock in the afternoon. Sometimes you are there for the whole day and you can't get a solid meal so you have to partake of fruits or vegetables or some warm drink, some tea and bread until the restaurant is open.

You've recently been on tour in Europe where you stopped off in Amsterdam before heading over to California. What do you think of the way the marijuana smoking is under pressure from the Dutch government while California is now a centre for medicinal marijuana? Is one door closing and another opening?

Amsterdam is always one of the places in the world where everybody looks forward to going because it's a marijuana haven for tourists and everybody who uses it. I was there and I heard about the situation where they're trying to close down on visitors buying stuff in the coffee shops but fortunately I was able to step into a coffee shop and had no problems. I think it's probably in the making for them to take that drastic action but I don't think it would be a good look for Amsterdam and I think the economy will definitely lose some money. It just won't be the same Amsterdam. It would just be another European country so to speak. Fortunately I have heard that Czech Republic is opening up and have started doing coffee shops for visitors as well as locals. So if Amsterdam is closing down the Czech is opening up. And as you say California is also open. As the good book says "when one door is closed, many more open."

These things must be doubly important since you recently started marketing your own smoking paper line - Perfect Papers.

I'm such a huge fan of marijuana so I thought it was very good to do something for marijuana. Perfect Papers was an idea I introduced to my manager Susan [Deleon] and she thought it was a good idea. I introduced it to Ziggi from out of Slovenia who has been a friend over the years and he thought it was really terrific and we just took it from there. I have to say enough respect to Ziggi for making the idea a reality and to Dynamo out of France for doing the design. A lot of people have been gravitating to them - I had four hundred packs on tour and they all sold out! I had to hide a pack just so I had some for myself! The people were crazy about them in Germany. I was in Austria when there was this big Free Marijuana march and I brought them out there and immediately everything was finished! People were lining up to buy the papers! It's a good look Angus and right now I'm tasking my manager to get an international distributor to bring them worldwide.

Perfect papers

Finally, will you ever make an album for a Jamaican producer?

Of course. Once the right person with the right concept and professionalism and attitude approaches me then definitely! If I was approached by Sly & Robbie to do an album I would do it. There are a lot of talented producers in Jamaica but I have never been approached by any of them. It's all about attitude -  I mean these kids from Washington are very young but very talented and they have a passion for it. I think this project came out sounding really good. It's not in the style that the majority of my fans might be looking for but that other part will never leave out of me.   This is a reminder that I can flip it in whichever way you want but it's still the same Perfect. For those who never listen to reggae but listen to pop and R&B  there is an R&B joint and a pop joint on that album so they will be saying "Who is that?" and they are going to get introduced to reggae when they start researching and find out who the true Perfect is. So I think it is more of a plus than a minus. 

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