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Interview: RC

Interview: RC

Interview: RC

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"I'm a conscious type of person"

Sampler

Ryan Campbell AKA RC (Righteous Child) is one of the new wave of Jamaican reggae singers. Blessed with a truly distinctive and show stopping timbre, he reached the final of 2009’s Magnum Kings and Queens of Dancehall contest – attracting the interest of super-producer and keen harvester of TV talent Donovan Germain.

It’s taken another five years for RC to release his first EP – collecting singles and fresh songs produced by Germain’s Penthouse, Vikings Productions and Germany’s Silly Walks. But the debut showed sufficient promise for United Reggae to track RC down after a performance at Reggae Jam festival in Bersenbruck Germany (as part of a “three the hard way” package featuring RC, Torch and Loyal Flames backed by Feuer Alarm band).

Mr Germain is a teacher

There RC’s vocals made such an impact that he was immediately whisked off to the dubplate studio; which meant locating him for a chat was no easy task. Eventually he emerged to conduct this curious interview backstage in the rain while George Nooks was on stage. RC kindly held the communal umbrella so United Reggae could juggle the questions and recorder – a scene that recalled his song with Bassrunner Productions When Blessings A Rain.

Unlike some Jamaican singers, his speaking voice is very like his singing one – grainy, honeyed yet broken in tone. When the discussion was done we thanked him for shielding us from the downpour. “Showers of blessings” he laughed before running off into the night.

RC

It’s become something of a stock question but you hail from Clarendon. A very musical parish. Is music in your blood?

I’m from a rural area. A place called Clarendon that’s in the rural part of Jamaica. Yeah there’s lot of them like Freddie McGregor and Cocoa Tea. Personally I grew up listening to these people and was inspired by them. I wanted to be like them and even be better than them. So of course they have been an inspiration to me.

How you start singing?

I don’t know. My mum said when I was born I was crying and it was melody so I was just singing from then! (laughs)

How did Rasta come your way?

Rasta came to me through… not by biological father but the person who took care of me, the person who showed me what having a father is supposed to feel like.

My mum said when I was born I was crying and it was melody

You grew up without a father.

In Jamaica it is very common. A lot of fathers do their thing and then they cut. But luckily for me I had this person called Pelico who was not my biological father but he stood there. He helped me by putting me through school, along with my mum. My mummy was there. They had nothing together. He was a married man and we knew each other and he played a father role.

Then, watching a lot of music videos, because of the type of person that I am, I’m a conscious type of person, and I listened to reggae music more than dancehall music. I liked the message. I liked the unity. I like the Rastafarian message they were spreading and I chose to be a part of that.

Freddie McGregor and Cocoa Tea. I wanted to be like them and even be better than them

Before you entered Magnum how were you making a living?

It was just me working. I was working with one of Jamaica’s biggest biscuit companies. It is called Excelsior and I was a merchandiser for them. I was going around representing them in different stores. But then Magnum Kings and Queens came and I hopped on it and from that to Donovan Germain as management and producer and linking with Silly Walks, linking with Vikings Productions and a lot of other labels – that is why I’m here now in Germany.

Germain has shown a lot of interest in the potential of talent show singers – Romain Virgo, Shuga, Dalton Harris – how did you link him?

It came through how I was at a studio once – and Khago the dancehall artist asked me to help him write a song. I said “Ok” and he took me to Penthouse records and that’s how I met Donovan Germain. And from then it’s been an uphill climb.

How come it took 5 years for you to release your EP since Magnum? Perfectionism or politics?

RC(Laughs) I mean, there were a lot of things that needed to be fixed. From then ‘til now you can see the growth, you can see the difference, you can see melodies have come into play, you can see where the writing levels have gone up. We did not want to put out something that would not represent RC and represent Penthouse to the fullest. So the time I took from then ‘til now to release the EP I would say that it was a time well thought of and well thought about.

How did you link Silly Walks – the German crew behind your songs like Why Should I and Dreams of Brighter Days with Busy Signal?

Silly Walks came to Jamaica to voice a song with Exco Levi and Torch. Exco introduced me to Silly Walks and they liked my vibe and gave me a rhythm. That was the same Why Should I rhythm – the Honeypot Rhythm – and from there I took the rhythm and went away to write for the rhythm and came back and voiced the song for them and they loved it. Silly Walks and I have been good friends from then.

How did you link Busy?

Busy Signal was always at Penthouse Records so it was very easy. Signal is the type of person who is real. He is willing to help young talent. He adapted that from his musical father, Bounty Killa. Bounty Killa liked to see young talent rise. Busy Signal likes to see young talent rise so Busy said “Alright, mek we do a collab” and I said “Ok then, Silly Walks, me and Signal want to do a collaboration and we need one of your riddim” so they just sent the rhythm and said “Go ahead, yeah man”

I am inspired by a lot of people – from the olden days up to now

You sing a lot about escape from bad things and hard times.

Yeah man. I mean, that was my background. I was brought up in a very poor family. Situations, a lot of negative things happening around me. Trust me, to be here today standing talking to you, it took a lot of strength and courage. Because I could easily have been misled and caught up in a lot of things but with the help of my mum and the person who I would represent as my father – Pelico – I am here today.

How would you describe your relationship with Donovan Germain?

I would say Mr Germain is more of the type of person who is a teacher. He has so many hits under his belt, his catalogue is very large, it’s a huge one. He took the time out to show us the road, show us what it was like, what it is now and what it can be – so we just have to adapt and work for that.

Donovan Germain produced your song Like Palestine which was actually about Jamaica. Recently the situation in Palestine has become even worse.

Yeah man. Real real real real sick. I don’t even know how to explain it because I don’t get to watch TV much but from what I know and what I’ve been seeing on the internet it is crazy and I don’t like it. I mean that song Palestine, I wrote that song from high school and it is my father who I’ve been talking about – he is the one who pushed me to record that song. Because I did not want to record it and he said “Yow, you don’t know what you are doing. Record the song” and I said “Alright, I’m going to record it” and as soon as I recorded it I heard all of these things getting up.

This girl said "You are not Righteous Chant, you are a Righteous Child"

 

You’ve released an EP – when is the album coming?

 It is supposed to be between January, February or March. I’m not sure because we haven’t set a date and we haven’t given it a name as yet because we keep recording and we don’t want to change anything in the eyes of the public. So we just want to keep it until close to a time.

You appeared today at Reggae Jam on the same bill as many young lions of Jamaican roots reggae.

(laughs) Yeah man it’s a joy. My work it has shown that I’m doing something good and I’m on the right path. Torch and Loyal Flames, they came and they represented as well. I have to say thumbs up to them because these are people who I affiliate myself with and we are good friends, so to see all of us rising at the same time is a joy.

Your voice is very distinctive - who do you pattern after?

I don’t really have a main person but the thing is I am inspired by a lot of people – from the olden days from foundation up to now. Even my friends and family around me, Loyal Flames, a youth named Tydal same way, Exco Levi – I’m inspired by them. Sometimes being around these people you find you are drifting into another man’s melody but your voice you cannot hide. It is distinctive as you say and at the end of the day it will come out sounding like you. As long as you know what you’re doing and that this is how a song is supposed to sound when you record. Everybody has a signature voice and a signature sound and I think I have found that with Why Should I, Running Away - all these songs are considered to be good songs.

Do you always write all your songs yourself?

All of the songs on my EP I wrote them. There is one song that I did not pencil myself. It’s not out yet. It’s coming out on my album. Exco Levi he helped to pencil that one. We were there – and it’s a family thing because if I’m there I’m going to help him create his music as well. Sometimes I get a call saying “RC I have this bad riddim from XYZ and I’m going to send it you to voice pon it” and I’ll say “Send it forward” then he’ll say “This is the idea” and from his idea I will put my input in it. He helped me to create that song so I have to give him thumbs up for that.

Busy Signal likes to see young talent rise

Where did you get your name?

A girl. In high school I used to call myself Righteous Chant and this girl used to listen to my songs and said “You are not Righteous Chant, you are a Righteous Child”. I chose RC and Righteous Child because Ryan Campbell is my real name and I did not want to change that. 

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