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Interview: Pablo Moses Gets Personal

Interview: Pablo Moses Gets Personal

Interview: Pablo Moses Gets Personal

By on - Photos by Franck Blanquin - 1 comment

"Everything that I do I think that I can do better... I always strive for perfection"


Pablo Moses is a genuine ‘living legend’ in the reggae arena. Schooled in the Black Ark studios of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry during the 1970s, it is a remarkable achievement that he is still recording classic material and playing live to full houses. In late November Pablo Moses treated Brussels to a musical feast of conscious roots reggae. As the audience roared for yet another encore, Pablo led ‘United Reggae’ to his dressing room for the following interview. Considering he had a 200 kilometre journey ahead of him that night it was a generous act on his part and was much appreciated.

Pablo Moses

What has been your greatest achievement in life?

(He laughs) The greatest achievement is that I can really take care of my children and I have the opportunity through music to send them to school, right up to University. My 3 (big children) finished University and I have 2 more small ones that are going to High School and they are also going to University, they have to go.

You can do that through your earnings in music?

Yes, I do that. I make sure to buy old cars, second hand cars and all those things and so forth, buy cheap things at Wal-Mart and other places and I am taking care of my children. I think education is an essential commodity.

The greatest achievement is that I can really take care of my children and I have the opportunity through music to send them to school, right up to University

What has been your greatest disappointment in life?

Well I would say that I am sorry that my people (parents) did not really see the interest in the arts when I was younger, when I was telling them that I loved music and wanted to do it full time. You have to understand they are the ones coming out of hardship. They thought that you have to be a teacher, or a lawyer, or a doctor or an accountant or you have to have a ‘jacket and tie’. I forgive them for that. I think that’s my disappointment, because I started when I was almost 30 to play guitar.

What has given you the greatest satisfaction in music?

The greatest satisfaction is when I go on stage and I see my people and I look in their eyes and I see that they see my eyes too and we both see honesty. I see honesty from the people and they see honesty from me. That – to me - is very very important

What has upset you most in the music business?

Payola, unfortunately and also not getting sufficient airplay because my songs are really saying something positive. I’m really upset about that. Well you have to understand that the big corporations don’t want Pablo Moses’ music because it might obstruct their commercialisation. 

Pablo Moses - The RebirthAre you satisfied with the reception to your latest album – The Rebirth?

(He hesitates) So and so, yes I think there should be more out of it. Everything that I do I think that I can do better. Everything that I produce, I’m never totally satisfied. With a finished product I always say ‘I could have done that better’. But sometimes it also takes financial resources which is the main thing for having time to spend in the studio. Because I’m not Michael Jackson or those rich guys like U2 and so forth.

So are you a perfectionist?

Yes. I always strive for perfection and I tell my children the same – strive for perfection. Never use the word impossible. Those words are my enemies.

Who is your favourite reggae artist?

It is difficult to say - Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. Tosh was a real revolutionary. I think Marley was also a revolutionary and a messenger in that respect.

In life, who has been the greatest influence on you?

It’s hard to say, because I listen to so many different artists. I listen to jazz, blues, funk, rock and every type of music. Even nowadays I listen to some of the dancehall too. I think that ‘each one teach one’ and I’m always learning. I usually sing a lot of Ray Charles. I think he has really made an impact on me from when I was young.

Do you think you will live all your life in Jamaica?

Yes, I love living in Jamaica. I might one day go and live in Africa. I love living in Jamaica, it’s a miniature Africa.

Who is your favourite politician?

Pablo MosesMy favourite politician passed away unfortunately, but it’s hard to say. My favourite revolutionary man was Che Guevara. And one of the greatest politicians that Jamaica ever had was Michael Manley (left-wing Prime Minister over a total of ~12 years during the 1970s, ‘80s and 90s) who made sure that Rastafarians had the opportunity to expose themselves, because in the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s Rastafarians had to stay in the bushes and to hide in the gullies.

You don’t think Manley provoked the Americans to bring guns into Jamaica (in covert support of the right wing opposition)?

I don’t think so. I think it’s the big corporations in Jamaica – the so-called upper class – just don’t want to share the wealth with the masses. That was the major problem, and still is a major problem.

Who is your least favourite politician?

(He laughs) I don’t really want to go into that. I think I’ll leave that out.

Outside music, do you have any interests?

Well I was aspiring and going to College pursuing accounts, before I discontinued and went to pursue music.


Yes, I just like messing with figures. I still do figures.

If you were to do a ‘cover version’ what would it be?

I think one of the greatest songs that was ever written is from a guy - that a lot of people won’t say that maybe I’m right about – is John Lennon. ‘Imagine’ – that song was very inspirational, can you ‘imagine that every one is one’, and there’s no ‘country’ there’s no ‘hatred’, you know, just love.

Do you have any regrets in life?

I think we all have certain regrets. There are so many, I don’t really put regrets as regrets, I use regrets as motivation, I use disappointments as motivation. So I really don’t think I have any regrets that I ... the only thing I regret is that I didn’t do music as early as I should.

I use regrets as motivation, I use disappointments as motivation

Is it really true that you made no money from your first classic album (Revolutionary Dream)?

No. I made a small amount. I got some money from it, a small advance. I really didn’t get much out of it until I relicensed it (reissued by Shanachie in 1992). ‘A Song’ album is the one I really have problems with, with Island. I cannot get my royalties at all from it, because they sell it to Universal Records and they do this and they do that. They make it so complicated that I have to have lawyers and I don’t have the money.

Any memories from Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and the Black Ark recording (of Revolutionary Dream)?

Oh I love the work of ‘I Man A Grasshopper’. I am the original Grasshopper.

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Posted by Guillaume Bougard on 04.17.2012
Super artist, and the human being has integrity, focus on the essential things (children being well educated). Fiercely independent and a great artist. None of his albums are mediocre. I hope he continues to grace us with finely crafted albums from time to time.

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