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Interview: Captain Sinbad

Interview: Captain Sinbad

Interview: Captain Sinbad

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"Frenchie loves the music and he's a popular producer in Jamaica"


Captain Sinbad

Captain Sinbad’s is back after 20 years

Jamaican veteran deejay Captain Sinbad hadn’t recorded for almost 20 years until just a few years ago when he dropped Worldwide Rebellion for Maximum Sound. The tune went down well and now he has a new album out – Reggae Music Will Mad Unu! – his first in almost 30 years. United Reggae caught up with him to learn more about the album, the early dancehall days and why he used to rough up Little John.

Back in the late 70’s and early 80’s Captain Sinbad might not have been as popular as, say, Yellowman, Josey Wales or Lone Ranger. But that doesn’t mean that he wasn’t talented. Far from it. Just listen to his Henry “Junjo” Lawes produced debut album The Seven Voyages of Captain Sinbad from 1982 where he oinks, ribbits and flows effortlessly over the heavy as lead riddims provided by the Roots Radics.

Just like all other deejays from way back when, Captain Sinbad started his career on the local sound system circuit before entering the studio. And when in the studio with Henry Lawes and mixing engineer Scientist he had to move fast.

“I was coming to the studio from a dance at a quarter to two in the morning. I went straight to Channel One. Recorded ten tracks for Junjo. Ten. Bam. Gone,” explains Captain Sinbad over the phone from Jamaica, where he is having fun in the sun, and continues:

“It was the good old days. Yellowman did that too. He voiced before me. We all used to voice there – Ranking Toyan, Yellowman, Ranking Trevor, Billy Boyo, Linval Thompson.”

Raised in the dancehalls

Captain Sinbad, whose real name is Carl Dwayer, was born in Three Mile in Kingston and was more or less raised in local dancehalls, since his father was a soundman. His style owes quite a lot to Dillinger, one of the most popular and influential deejay’s of the 70’s.

“Dillinger and I came from the same area in Kingston and as youths we used to hang on the same corner. He’s my inspiration and the reason why I came into this business. It was Clint Eastwood, Ranking Trevor and Dillinger. He was the Beenie Man, the Vybz of the day. Top youth,” explains Captain Sinbad, who was discovered by the late Sugar Minott who heard him on a sound system one night:

“I mashed the place. I rocked the place,” he says with emphasis, and adds:

“From then on I and Sugar started to par.”

Helped Little John

Captain Sinbad and Sugar Minott started to record together and from then on he became a force to be reckoned with. He even recorded three tunes at Studio One for Clement “Coxsone” Dodd that have yet to be released.

Another youth from the day was Little John, who recorded some of his earliest material for Captain Sinbad.

“I helped Little John get started. He was a small kid and I used to rough him up and say ‘you have to go to school. You need something to fall back on. You can sing, but…,’” he laughs, and continues:

“I forced him to go to school, but we’re still good friends.”

Successful comeback

Captain SinbadAfter some years in the Jamaican music business he relocated to London where he met Frenchie through John McGillivray from the notable reggae record shop Dub Vendor. At the time Captain Sinbad had retired as an artist, but remained an important and well-respected industry figure behind the scenes.

The two have now known each other for more than 20 years and collaborated on the World Jam album for Greensleeves in 2005. Fast forward to 2011 and Frenchie has talked him into picking up the microphone once more for a cut on his Skateland Killer riddim.

“Frenchie’s always trying to get me recorded. But I tell him I do other things. But this Skateland Killer riddim went down really well and he wanted me to record on another two riddims, Capital Offence and Jamaica 50,” he explains.

Still has the vibes

The reactions on all three tunes were staggering and Captain Sinbad started to hear his tunes on the radio in the U.S. At the same time the idea of an album started to form over at Frenchie’s.

“We started off with some vibes. Like ‘what do you think about these lyrics and melodies’”, he says, and continues:

“I still have the vibes, even though I haven’t recorded active. I still make lyrics and I had a lot of lyrics put down. Like long-time lyrics. They’re always in the back of my head.”

All about quality

Frenchie and Captain Sinbad met up in Kingston at Sonic Sounds and recorded the album Reggae Music Will Mad Unu! The title is taken from local Jamaican slang.

“In Jamaica, we have a talk. Like ‘bwoy, that song a good. It a mad! Bad! Reggae Music Mad Unu!’. Or a pair of shoes, ‘them Clarks, them mad!’”, he shouts, and explains the recording process:

“It was Kingston vibes. Really hard vibes. We smoked some weed and made some jokes. The vibes were right and it was quite easy actually,” he laughs, and continues:

“I must say, I’m really pleased with how the album turned out. Frenchie did his best and I surprised myself still. I hope it will be successful, because Frenchie has put a lot on this release. He’s all about quality. I have to give him respect. He loves the music and he’s a popular producer in Jamaica.”

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