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Interview: Don Corleon, Pressure and Protoje

Interview: Don Corleon, Pressure and Protoje

Interview: Don Corleon, Pressure and Protoje

By on - Photos by Bartek Muracki - Comment

"We're all African people and have an African culture. We are all Caribbean people"


Pressure, Don Corleon, Protoje

A midnite meeting with Don Corleon, Pressure and Protoje.

Don Corleon is one of Jamaica’s slickest and most successful contemporary producers with a variety of booming riddims behind him. In his stable of artists is Pressure as well as his cousin Protoje. This trio was on a European tour, and United Reggae got a chat after their performance at Uppsala Reggae Festival.

The evening has turned to night when I meet Pressure, Protoje and his cousin Don Corleon backstage.

This trio was touring Europe and stopped by Sweden and the Uppsala Reggae Festival.

On stage, Protoje did a number of tunes from his debut album '7 Year Itch', released earlier this year. But he also performed a tune that did not make it onto the album due to some legal issues with a sample.

Our Time Come, as the energetic tune is called, also has the Don singing the hook. But even though it didn’t make it to the album, it might still be up for grabs.

“Somehow it’s now available on the Internet. I don’t know who leaked it,” says Don Corleon and smiles.

In front of him sits Protoje and beside him is Pressure. It’s obvious that Don Corleon is the front man and leader of this outfit. He is well-spoken, polite and gives thorough answers.

Busy year for Don Corleon

It’s been a busy year for Don Corleon. An album from Protoje, a European tour in February and the album 'Dub in HD'. On top of that another European tour and several new riddims, such as The Message, Summer Scheme and Broken Hearts.

Protoje and Don CorleonThe dub album was something of a surprise to many. The release was preceded by video clips of Don Corleon dub mixing in his studio, and got instant attention.

“I videotaped the whole recording procedure. It will be released as a DVD soon,” reveals Don Corleon, and continues:

“I pushed my engineering skills when I did it. I did it in Pro Tools. I wanted to do something new.”

When learning the necessary skills for mixing dub Don Corleon spent hours watching producers such as Mad Professor on Youtube.

“Mad Professor is my favorite dub producer. He has a crisp and clean sound. I really rate him,” explains Don Corleon.

Protoje’s new album

Don Corleon got interested in dub through Protoje, and one of his first dub recordings can be heard on Wrong Side of the Law, included on '7 Year Itch'.

“Dub just bit me. Scientist bit me,” explains Protoje and mentions Black Uhuru’s Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner as a big inspiration.

ProtojeProtoje seems shy and speaks in a low voice. Or maybe he’s just cold sitting outside in the Swedish chilly summer night. He explains that he is currently working on his second album, a set probably due next year.

“The music is already recorded and we’ll finish the album and then decide when to release it,” says Protoje, and continues describing how it sounds:

“It’s a new style. More roots and more steppers. It has an international sound, it’s experimental and I wanted to explore different styles.”

While I sit and talk to Protoje I hear The Heptones playing on the main stage. During their classic Party Time I notice that Don Corleon leans over to Pressure while playing the bass line in the air.

“It’s one of my favorite groups,” explains Don Corleon, and continues:

“I have this one on dubplate.”

Pressure has the whole package

Don Corleon explains that he was introduced to Pressure when he met producer Dean Pond – responsible for Pressure’s debut album 'The Pressure is On' – in a guitar store in Miami.

“He told me about Pressure and gave me the album,” says Don Corleon.

The rest is, as you say, history.

The Don was hugely impressed by St. Thomas native Pressure, and together they recorded Pressure’s second album 'Love and Affection', a set that included the title track, that became a smash hit.

Pressure“It will never die. It will be a classic. It’s wicked from start to finish,” believes Don Corleon, and continues to explain what makes Pressure a great artist:

“He has this great vocal ability. And it’s the first thing I’m looking for. He also has the whole package. He can write his own songs and sing.”

Pressure almost came straight from the stage to the interview, and he seems to be tired sitting in a chair with his sunglasses hiding his eyes.

I ask Pressure about the reggae scene on the Virgin Islands (VI), a scene that has been booming in the last couple of years, largely thanks to Midnite, but also artists such as NiyoRah, Dezarie and Batch. It turns out that Pressure has relocated.

“I live in Florida now. There are more musical opportunities there, and a wider audience than in the VI. VI is calypso dominated, and only 30 to 40 percent of the music played is reggae.”

Don Corleon fills in:

“I didn’t know about the VI reggae scene until I heard Pressure. And I said ‘yo, him bad’. He got so much talent,” and continues:

“But we’re all African people and have an African culture. We are all Caribbean people.”

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