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Interview: Conscious Riddims and Go A Chant

Interview: Conscious Riddims and Go A Chant

Interview: Conscious Riddims and Go A Chant

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"Heavy roots one-drop, my favorite type of militant, hard-core down tempo roots music"


Be still, and know that I am Jah;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
(Psalm 46:10)

It is said that music transcends borders, and in the case of this record, this is more than evident since there are nearly 13000 kilometers away between Ark Chant studio in Barcelona and Conscious Riddims in Hawaii. Along this musical journey we also stopover in the Caribbean and the United States.

More than 13000 km but the same vibes, the same way of life, a spiritual connection that crosses borders unifying people by rastafari vibes internationally, following the example of His Imperial Majesty.

We had the opportunity to speak with two of the creators of the “Be Still & Know” compilation, Manel I, keyboard of Go a Chant and head of Ark Chant studio and Roots Gwaan, singer and producer from Conscious Riddims records.

Conscious Riddims Records

Can you tell me something about the beginnings of your musical projects, Go a Chant and Conscious Riddim records?

Manel I: Ras Melak and I knew each other because we worked together in some events and one day we met Risla. In that time I always used to play Augustus Pablo songs with the melodica and we used to meet each other to burn some herbs, reason about rastafari and play music. One day we decided to unite the vibes and that’s all! We play hours and hours! The beginnings are always good and humble. We give thanks for that experience, since that moment other breddens came around, e.g Lalo or Daniel Leon, so we decided to rent a place by hours to rehearse and start to play as a band, then we get our own place. In that time, our brother Daniel started to study sound engineering and he started to record us. Daniel had to come back to Peru, so I took over with the productions, and Ark Chant Productions was borned! There are some riddims that are my personal idea and others that we created together. But everything comes from the Ark! Selassie I!

Roots Gwaan: Conscious Riddims Records was founded as a concept to create a vehicle in which, we as a collective, could spread, the Rastafari message, music, consciousness, and love. We started out as an idea that grew from a small booth at farmers markets, events, and reggae concerts to now having two culture shops, a sound system, a record label and a farm. The record label started in 2008 as a way to further spread the Rastafari message.

Conscious Riddims started with the compilation called “Gather the Remnant”. What can you tell me about this project?

Roots Gwaan: “Gather the Remnant” was released in 2008 and was the birth of the record label. We had been doing concerts in Hawaii and working with many great and humble artists for a few years. On a visit to Jamaica we met with Andrew Bassie Campbell and discussed acquiring some riddims for a few ideas we had. Upon our return to Hawaii the idea was finalized to get Virgin Island, Hawaii, and California Reggae artists on these great Jamaican riddims and set up a CD with artists from around the world all uniting on one album, really a first of its kind I believe.

How did you meet each other?

Manel I: The conection with them came naturally. When we finished the album with Yehjah we were searching the way to promote the work, one day we saw a post of Conscious Riddims, we looked their website and we saw those breddens with their livity, their good musical works with artists like Dre Z. Roots Gwaan and Dre Z. They had an album together called “Son of the King”, highly recommended! We contacted Roots Gwaan and sent him the album with Yehjah to know his opinion, and he loved it so they helped us with the distribution and promotion of the album.

Roots Gwaan: We were approached by them to do the US release of their album "Hurt" featuring Yehjah. Before that I had never heard of them. When I listened to that first track I was instantly blown away! Heavy roots one-drop, my favorite type of militant, hard-core down tempo roots music. This music was real, it was majestic. And Yehjah can chant, for real, talented bredren. I love that Go A Chant band keeps it real to the one-drop meditation style. All talented youths with a sound and a vision.

And then you started working on the “Be Still & Know” compilation together. What about this experience?

Manel I: The compilation is titled Be Still & Know. It is really a blessing for us to work with artists that we admire from long time like: Midnite, Biblical, Roots Gwaan, Ishence, Perfect. Marty  Dread, Prezident Brown, Xkaliba, MadaNile, Tuff Like Iron, Messenjah Selah, Fikir Amlak, True Love, Ras Batch, Danny I, Iqulah, Army, Dre Z, Fyah Redbear, Rocker T, Tilah I, Rocker T, RyanI, Iaahden and Yeyah.

It is a double-cd with 28 songs in total of pure rastafari music! A lot of artists involved! Masterized by Tippy from I Grade records in St. Croix. The riddims are 100% roots. It has taken time to get to the end of this project but now it is done and all the people can listen to our work.

Roots Gwaan: The project started 2-3 years ago now. It was built off the same concept as the "Gather the Remnant" album, same type of idea, but new artists, new riddims, new vibes. Feeling the vibes of the Go A Chant riddims, we approached them with the idea and the project was born. Slowly but steady we gathered artists we felt a connection with and went forward to recording. Some artists did it in their own studios or studios in their area while others came to Hawaii and recorded at the Conscious Riddims Studio. Scenes from those visits can be seen on the "Be Still & Know - Meditation Sessions". All mixed in Spain, at Ark Chant Studio.

What do you expect about the future?

Roots Gwaan: I feel with the artists involved and working with the Go A Chant bredren we are reaching new and bigger audiences, also teaming up with a few key distributors is helping with the push. I feel this album will be well received and gain some good recognition amongst reggae lovers. It has an old school feel but with a totally new and original sound.

Manel I: We are preparing lots of Jah works, we are working mainly on three projects. We are working on different albums with artists such as Fikir Amlak or Roots Gwaan. We would like to do a tour in Europe with some artists of “Be Still & Know”.

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