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Interview: Horace Andy

Interview: Horace Andy

Interview: Horace Andy

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Horace Andy chats to Davina Morris about innovation, censorship, and his new album On Tour

Horace Andy 2008

Several labels turned down Horace Andy’s new album but Trojan were happy to release it– well, minus one track, as he tells Davina Morris

AS he sat looking at the cover of his new album, On Tour, Horace Andy couldn’t help but smile. Featuring him standing on the stairs of a plane, the picture- and, more importantly, the album- has been a long time in the making.

But ask the veteran reggae singer where he was in the picture and he just laughs as he admits,

“You know, I don’t even remember! But I like the picture.”

He’s equally happy with the content of his album. But he reveals that not everybody was as enthusiastic about his offering.

“I played it for so many people and they rejected it because they said it was too modern. But this is the 21st Century. People can’t expect me to still be making my old sound. I finished this album years ago, but because nobody wanted it, it’s been sitting down for so long. I think it was ahead of its time.”

He continued:

“I did an album last year. It featured Sly and Robbie and all these old artists from the 70s. And if I’m honest, I don’t really like the album! I’m not against the older musicians– they’re my kind of age. But a lot of these musicians are still producing the sounds they produced 30 years ago. I think people need to move on.”

In fairness, it’s more than a little tricky to picture the 57-year-old star in the same vain as reggae young-bloods like Sean Paul, or to imagine him voicing on futuristic dancehall riddims produced by the likes of Don Corleon or Steven McGregor.

Shouldn’t Andy feel proud that people still want to celebrate his early works– including hits like 'Government Land', 'You Are My Angel' and 'Skylarking'– rather than wanting to keep up with the Jones’s?

“I’m not saying it’s a bad thing that people enjoy the old music. But surely people don’t want to hear the same old songs all the time? It’s like Errol Dunkley. Every time Errol go on stage, is di same songs dem all di time. We need fresh tings, man.”

Fair enough. And he has earned himself a younger audience through his work with British trip-hop pioneers, Massive Attack, with whom he’s produced songs including 'Angel', a re-working of his own hit, 'You Are My Angel'.

But with that in mind, it seems a little strange that Andy chose to write and produce his entire new album, rather than enlisting other talents to enhance the modern sound he was aiming for.

“I would have,” Andy admits. “But nowadays, all that some people see is money. Yes, they’re happy to work with you, but they’re always in a hurry because they just want the money. I don’t work like that. I take my time with my projects. I’ll do 20 songs, and if at the end, I decide I don’t like 19 of them, I’ll start all over again.”

Well, he’s certainly happy with the album and happier still that after much rejection, it was snapped up by long-serving reggae label, Trojan, who are currently celebrating their 40th anniversary.

However, he admits he was disappointed that the label removed one of the tracks from the album before they were happy to release it. What was wrong with said track?

“All I said on the song was, ‘The Father never make Adam and Steve, he make Adam and Eve.’”

Ah. That would be problematic.

“They took it off,” Andy continues. “I guess they didn’t want no problems. But I loved that track. It was more about celebrating the ladies. The tune bad it bad it bad!”

Maybe it is. But as it didn’t make the album, we’ll never know. Does Andy have any thoughts on gay rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell, and the ever-bright light he shines on homophobia in dancehall music?

“I leave him alone,” says Andy. “He has his opinion and as a Rasta man, I have my opinion. But I leave him to it.”

On Tour is out now on Trojan Records.

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