Online Reggae Magazine


Articles about reggae music, reviews, interviews, reports and more...

Interview: Protoje (Ancient Future Track by Track)

Interview: Protoje (Ancient Future Track by Track)

Interview: Protoje (Ancient Future Track by Track)

By on - Photos by Veronique Skelsey - 1 comment

"I wanted the sound to touch on different eras but still feel cohesive"

Read part 1 of this interview

To celebrate the release of Protoje’s Ancient Future on March 10th we asked Protoje to talk us through the new album.

Here is what he had to say about each song… and, in a repeat of what happened with his debut Seven Year Itch, the one that didn’t make the record for copyright reasons!


Protection feat. Mortimer

“Mortimer is a new artist my keyboard player and drummer brought to my attention. They do a production called Drumkeys and he’s an artist they’re working with. Me and Winta heard some songs from him and were like “It’s dope”. Then when the opportunity came up we wanted somebody who had a real ancient sound that sounded like he was coming out of nowhere so we hollered at him.

This song is the introduction and the intro is very important to set the tone. I’m getting some stuff out the way and immediately off my chest to show this is a different experience from Seven Year Itch or Eight Year Affair where I came on the record being very easy. I’m stating my case, getting straight down to the point. I’m saying I’m going to stand up for what I believe in and do what I need to do to take care of whatever needs taking care of. Whether it is the reggae music, whether it is my family, I am going to stand up for what I believe in and not give in to all the other stuff coming towards it.”

I'm going to stand up for what I believe in and do what I need to do

Criminal (which Protoje showcased in Germany at the U Club in November)

“Criminal was the first rhythm Winta sent me towards this project. So Criminal really started everything off. This song is talking about the idea of what people sight as criminals and it references the murder of Peter Tosh and Free I. It speaks about the Bookman Revolution in Haiti. It speaks about Walter Rodney and even just speaks about me navigating amidst all this negativity around me. Criminal is an extremely powerful song and on stage it’s like twice the intensity.”

Who Knows feat. Chronixx

“Nobody knows this but I actually sang the chorus first! I recorded it but me and Chronixx were supposed to do a song together and we really felt like this was the one. So we made him hear it, he was feeling it so he went in there and just took it to another level”.

All Will Have To Change

“When I recorded this song I wasn’t sure if I wanted it on the album. But after it was mixed it’s been my favourite song to listen to. Especially with that heavy dub mix at the end by Gregory Morris. I so wanted to have a proper 12 inch mix on my album. The song speaks about me being in my room aged nine years old writing music. I wrote a lot of this album at the house I grew up in in the country – in the same room I used to sit in dreaming about music.”

I wrote a lot of this album at the house I grew up in


“I think it was someone that Winta used to go out with that inspired that song. He started writing it. He wrote the first verse and the chorus and asked me what I thought about the idea. I was feeling it and so I went in and added my flair to it.

This track has a vocoder on it which was done by the guitarist Monty. That was Winta’s idea. I was messing around singing “Can’t pop no style tonight” and Winta said “That has to be in the song! Where’s that from?” and I was like “That’s from Hugh” [Mundell]. So he was like “You have to ad lib that. We should get three male vocalists to do it” and then he was like Actually I should get a vocoder”. I wasn’t sure at first but then when I heard it it was really dope and fresh. Winta is full of ideas like that.

The vocoder is a different technology from Autotune and it’s a different sound. They are both vocoders but they are used for different purposes. It’s very distinct, the vocoder. For me it has a lot of influence with the whole California Love, Roger Troutman sound with the talkbacks. I completely love that song.”

Love Gone Cold feat. Sevana

Protoje“This takes it up to 107 bpms and is paying homage to Compass Point studio and the music that was coming out of there. Because all of this album is touching on different aspects of the reggae music that I like. This song to me is as reggae as all the others. It’s just a different sound because we’re talking about the music that was made by Sly and Robbie over in Barbados at Chris Blackwell’s studio – even music like Grace Jones. It has that Grace Jones type of feel which we specifically wanted to go for.

We specially brought in Sevana to accomplish that. And it was to give Sevana a way to really flex her vocals. She is a new artist we are working with now out of the label. We just did her song Bit Too Shy. Winta and I produced that. She’s a brilliant artist, an extremely talented vocalist and a very good songwriter. We are working on her project right now. She made two appearances on this album and we are really trying to raise her profile.”

Sudden Flight feat. Jesse Royal and Sevana

“My father used to always tell me about Claudie Massop and how he got murdered. This is also my hip hop background with “La-di-da-di we likes to party”. Jamaica has two political parties so it’s me trying to parallel saying “La-di-da-di we nah join no party, looks that the politician them do to Claudie.” That’s a song where I’m sure, coming up around election time, it’s going to be in everybody’s ears.

I linked up with Jesse Royal to get on that and he’s doing really well now and Sevana is on it too. But that song is that energy – just speaking about how you will be used and manipulated by people with power to get you to support them but they will definitely turn their backs on you. So it’s making the youths know that’s not what it’s about right now.”

My father used to always tell me about Claudie Massop and how he got murdered


“That’s my production. The only song I produced on the album. Co-produced with Winta obviously – he cleans up everything. It has a sample from Zap Pow – Beres Hammond’s old band – Bubblin’ Over. I found the sample, I chopped it up and me and my keyboard player Paris put the drums on it then we sent it to Winta who did it over and added some different drums to it.

It’s a song that’s marijuana based but it’s not just about smoking – it has some political references in there about how it can strengthen the economy. It’s probably going to be my last song about herb in that way – fighting for it – because we should move on from that now. Everybody knows what it is so I’m done campaigning for that. I still smoke but probably a lot less than people think I do anyway.”

Answer To Your Name

“This is a ska. It’s a Prince Buster sample from his song Girl. It was actually started by a producer from the UK called Lewis Planter. He sent it to me maybe four years ago – even before Seven Year Itch. I didn’t want to do it at the time and I waited and waited until he thought I never wanted to use it. But that’s just how I stay. I make things linger. The time was right and I went in, brought it to Winta, he fixed it up and that was it. But this is from another era – this is from the 60s. I wanted the sound to touch on different eras but still feel cohesive somehow.”

Who Can You Call

“I think this had a sample in it but we took it out. Who Can You Call was my favourite song in writing. I was sick, I hurt my back and I couldn’t move. I was in bed for three days, my band was hanging outside the house having a good time and I was thinking “Suppose I was permanently sick and could not move? This is how it would be. People would come in and check on you but people would be going on with their lives same way”. So that was the thing I was talking about saying “When all the money is gone – who can you call?”

Bob Marley’s documentary really inspired me to write this song because at the height of his fame and his glory and financial success he had to leave this earth and all of that behind. That hit me really hard because that’s the standard you aspire to. That’s why you hear me say “Rolling round the city, Miss Jamaica deh deh with me, herb upon mi platter, knowing all of this no matter”. It’s the closest song to my heart on the album.”

At the height of his financial success Bob had to leave this earth and all of that behind

The Flame feat. Kabaka Pyramid

“The Flame didn’t start out with the big transition at the end. It was just normal how it sounded like the first two verses. But Winta went off, had an idea to do it and he wrote the whole string section. When I heard it I was completely blown away by how it goes down into the acoustic version.

On this album the lyrics are really trying to portray what it is I’m going through like “I’d rather be spiritually attained than critically acclaimed”. It talks about how when you get further in the music you dive into all these external factors that weren’t there when you started out and you may start to feel pressure. Where you would just write songs to write songs now you have to write songs for an album or write songs for a single. You don’t have to but that’s what the industry is geared towards. The Flame is just touching on all these things, showing that without the substance it really doesn’t matter to me.

And of course, for a song like the Flame you have to enlist the fire starter Kabaka who came on and did an amazing job with his verse. Every time me and him do a song I feel it works. That’s four songs now we have together – almost an EP.”

Every time me and Kabaka do a song I feel it works

On why his track Used To Be My Life with Prince Fatty (as discussed in our last interview) couldn’t be included.

“We couldn’t get it cleared. There was a John Holt but John Holt had sampled a group called Bread from America and they said no so we had to leave it off. But I’m glad because when we heard the production on The Flame when it was finished I was like “It has to be the end of the album”. It just tops it off.”

Share it!

Send to Kindle
Create an alert

Read comments (1)

Posted by intelligent RebelLion on 03.08.2015


Comments actually desactivated due to too much spams

Recently addedView all

Var - Poor and Needy
27 Sep
Mortimer - Lightning
11 Aug

© 2007-2024 United Reggae. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited. Read about copyright

Terms of use | About us | Contact us | Authors | Newsletter | A-Z

United Reggae is a free and independant magazine promoting reggae music and message since 2007. Support us!

Partners: Jammin Reggae Archives | Jamaican Raw Sessions | Guide nature - Traversées de la baie du Mont Saint-Michel | One One One Wear