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Interview: Jah Sun

Interview: Jah Sun

Interview: Jah Sun

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"Music can activate and expand your consciousness"


Jah Sun

Reggae changed Jah Sun’s life

Californian singjay Jah Sun has recently dropped his third album. Like many other reggae musicians he was drawn to reggae thanks to Bob Marley, and has ever since his encounter with the man’s music wholeheartedly embraced reggae. His own take on the genre is however fused with hip-hop and world music and filled with uplifting lyrics. United Reggae got a chat with an artist who was considered a hoodlum by his in-laws, but changed his way of life.

Andrew McCommas, probably better known as Jah Sun, hails from Humboldt County in northern California. He made his first appearance on the reggae scene six years ago, and has since dropped three albums and one EP as well as contributing to several one riddim compilations. He has also performed on some of the biggest reggae festivals in the U.S. and Europe, including Rototom, Reggae Rising and Uppsala Reggae Festival.

His debut album, titled 'Height of Light' and released in 2006, featured top Jamaican performers such as Luciano, Junior Reid and Lutan Fyah.

"I really did put a lot of intention into Height of Light. However, I was just learning and I was very green. It was the beginning of my transition from a hip-hop MC to a singer/chanter. That is why you hear more hip-hop tracks on that album,” explains Jah Sun.

Not a straight road

But the road to his music career was not particularly straight, and he had been in trouble many times as a teenager, something that led to being in and out of boy’s homes and jail. But thanks to an encounter with Bob Marley’s music Jah Sun changed his ways, turned to reggae and changed his lifestyle, growing dreadlocks and becoming a vegetarian.

When listening to his music and lyrics it’s hard to imagine a former street thug. Today his lyrics are about romancing, spirituality and equality. Sharing his thoughts about the world through music rather than violence.

“Music is a very powerful and mystical force. It speaks to people on a much deeper level than   conversation. It really reaches the soul. I feel we are all divine children with a great purpose. But due to the lack of love in our society, many of us seldom reach our true potential and most end up living their lives disconnected from themselves and in dysfunction and depression,” believes Jah Sun, and continues:

“Music can heal that. Music can activate and expand your consciousness. It was music from Bob Marley, Fela Kuti, KRS ONE and many, many more that put me on my path,” he explains, and gets personal:

“When a person can transition from pain and suffering, to a place where they can feel love for themselves and others, that is the greatest thing. This is why I make music.”

New album sets the bar

Jah Sun - Battle The DragonHis path so far has lead to his third album 'Battle the Dragon' recorded together with a broad variety of producers based in Europe and the U.S.

“Battle the Dragon to me has all of the qualities of my first album – message, concept, intention, but also nice melodies, beautiful harmonies, good phrasing, clever song writing and good collaborations,” he explains, and continues:

“I mean, I really put a lot of thought into every aspect of the album – from the songs and the mixing to the mastering and even the packaging. Everything had to be the best that I could do. I’m very proud of this album and I feel it is my best work. The most exciting part is that I feel it sets the bar for all future works.”

Jah Sun describes 'Battle the Dragon' as up-tempo modern roots with a couple of radio friendly gal tunes.

“All in all it is full of vibes and I think any reggae fan, or fan of good music, regardless of genre, will enjoy this album. Also, the special guests that I chose for the album really give the project that ‘wow’ factor and mix it up, so the listeners get a musical treat,” he says.

Fond of European producers

Like his previous albums, 'Battle the Dragon' includes European producers as well as several combinations.

“I really like what the European producers are putting out right now. I consider myself more of a singjay or chanter, than a ‘classic’ singer. So a lot of the riddims I hear from Europe seem to fit my style nicely,” he explains, and adds:

“Collaborations have always been a great experience for the listener because it often fuses two different styles; usually a deejay with a singer. There is something really nice about two artists that are great on their own, joining together, because the song becomes even more powerful.”

Jah Sun

A win-win situation

Combinations also have other aspects, such as when an established artist teams up with an aspiring talent to help his or her career. But, Jah Sun has other benefits with combinations in mind.

“Combinations are also great because it gives each artist the chance to tap into the others fan base and get more exposure. But mostly I choose to do collaborations to make my albums more interesting. Personally, I think the fans appreciate it and I get great joy working with other artists as well. So it is a win-win situation,” he concludes.

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Read comments (1)

Posted by sarah leblanc on 05.23.2012
love everything by jah sun cuz he is the real has also saved me and so i relate to his message. it is hard to stay positive sometimes tho. i get very inspired by add as much love as i can to world.. to make it more beautiful by caring for our planet our animals and our children..and to live in harmony with momma earth..and by making art that supports the cause

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