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Interview: Alborosie

Interview: Alborosie

Interview: Alborosie

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“I see Jamaica as a school. Jamaica really teach you the hard-knock life, how to live life in a certain way”


Italian deejay, musician and producer Alborosie should release his first solo album in a month. Angus Taylor talks to him about his career, life in Jamaica and his new album.


You’ve been praised by selectors and fans for your consistency and quality control. Do you try to avoid compromise in your work?

(Laughs) To tell the truth I just love to work and I love my job. I’m trying to create a sound that is my own. I’m buying different instruments – especially vintage instruments – from 1975 and things like that. I love vintage instruments. I have a lot of vintage instruments.

You are clearly a big fan of Sly & Robbie. Who else inspires you musically?

Yes that is the school. Y’know the rub-a-dub school. I love Black music in general. But in reggae - Black Uhuru, Bob Marley, Burning Spear, Abyssinians… I love good music, intelligent music. Everything with quality. As long as quality is there then that is my music!

When is your album coming out?

It is ready now. It is supposed to come out in a month. International release – Europe, America. Hopefully it will do something!

Will it be a collection of your singles or will there be any surprises?

Well not everyone knows the singles! There will be seven or eight songs we already released and then ten to eleven brand new songs. I had to include the old songs because I see the album as a celebration of what I call my… humble success. Musically I’m celebrating that we did well in 2007 and those songs are part of that.

You’ve been in Jamaica for seven years – how does living in JA compare with Italy and Sicily?

It’s nearly eight years now. It’s kinda similar to Sicily, it have the same vibe, the same kinda roots. Jamaica is a beautiful place but it’s kinda violent at the same time so you have to learn how to move without invading nobody space. I see Jamaica as a school. Jamaica really teach you the hard-knock life, how to live life in a certain way. It’s also a school because I’m learning my thing, I’m a student of music and I really love Jamaican people - so it really comes natural to get into the thing and learn.

So if you learn to live Jamaica you can live anywhere?

It's like this. If you learn to make money in Jamaica you can make money anywhere!

You had a career in Italy with Reggae National Tickets before coming to international attention. Tell us about your early days.

I start very young. I was 14. I sign my first contract with BMG when I was 17 - my father signed it. We toured for ten years. We signed with most of the big labels and we did about 8 albums - we were really big in Italy. Then I got tired because I start so young, too much pressure, so I said “listen. I wanna change my life, start from scratch, do something different. I wanna talk to a bigger audience. I want to go Jamaica.” I used to go as a tourist but then I want to come and live in Jamaica.

Where does your name come from?

AlborosieIt's hard to explain. Borosie was what they used to call me. Let me put it like this. My early experience in Jamaica was … not nice. Borosie was a name they used to call me and it have a negative meaning. So I said “I'm gonna use this name and mash up the place turn a negative into a positive thing!'

Like Yellowman?

Yes. Basically my name is Albert so I add “Al” – Al-borosie. But I’m not gonna tell you what borosie mean! (Laughs)

You've collaborated with the biggest names in Jamaican music – who did you like working with most?

Just yesterday I did a song with an amazing singer who is not with us anymore. (pauses) I did a song with Dennis Brown and I'm going to put it out in a week’s time. So I can say I did a song with The Prince - which is the ultimate.

Just to clear up the speculation – did you sing the “sample” part on Kingston town?

Yes. That's me. When I buy my lickle vintage instruments I'm able to recreate sounds y'understand? Dubwise sounds. So that's me - not a sample. I use Protools to record but My piano (organ) is a Whirlitzer from 1965, I use long time instruments especially when it comes to the outboard. I have a Spring Reverb from 1967. Stuff from back in the day.

When did you become interested in vintage sounds?

From day one. Motown - that was my shit!

Your success shows it’s how you do it rather than where you come from that counts. What advice do you have for anyone who wants to be a singer or producer?

My advice is, do what you like. I was a prisoner of my own sound a long time ago. People used to tell me what to do and I used to do it. But then I decide to do my own thing - that is my winning formula. Now I am collecting on my humble success because I do what I like.

When can your fans in Europe next see you live?

We have a major, major tour from June to August all over Europe. We’re going everywhere so my father will have a chance to see me play again. I was in London in December doing promotion but England is a difficult thing to play live especially London. But I’ve been invited to do three or four shows so we’re working on it.

Thanks for talking to me

Thank you very much

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