Interview: The Skatalites

The Jamaican ska legends celebrate their 50th anniversary with a gig at Roxy

Rosie Dwelly

Written by Rosie Dwelly Published on 14.04.2014 15:55:06 (updated on 14.04.2014) Reading time: 2 minutes

Firstly congratulations on your 50th Anniversary! Fifty years in the music business is a long time, where does an artist still find the motivation to perform and make music?

Thank you. The best source of motivation for us as artists has always been and will always be the appreciation and love showered on us by the people wherever we perform. Our music has been known for its therapeutic value and on many occasions when we go backstage after a gig we meet folks who tell us stories of the healing and stress-relief that the music of the Skatalites has provided for them.

The current line up of the band includes two original members, what’s the process for finding and working with new musicians?  

There really is no pre-set recruiting process. Usually, a replacement was already known and admired by one or more current members who then introduces him to the rest of the band.

What is the plan for after the 50th anniversary tour? Is there a 17th album in the making?

Our next album is already nearly half-complete and we expect to have it ready in two months. 

You’ve worked with a lot of artists in your career. Which current artists you would like to work with and why?

Luciano, Leroy Sibbles, Shaggy, Ziggy or Kimani Marley, Bonnie Raitt and Marcia Griffiths…these are great artists who associate themselves with positivity and professionalism on and off the bandstand.

This isn’t the groups’ first time in the Czech Republic. How have you enjoyed your previous visits?  

Our visits were never long enough to fully experience the physical attributes of your beautiful country but we were always made to feel the warmth and affection of your people.

You played at Mighty Sounds Festival a few years ago. How do these large festival shows compare to more intimate indoor concerts? Which do you prefer?  

That’s like comparing apples to oranges: we love them both and one doesn’t lessen our love for the other. Festival performances are shorter and more intense, while indoor concerts allow us the freedom to get into more deep solo work and beyond.

With the recent life imprisonment of Jamaican musician Vybez Kartel, do you feel that Jamaican music in general is receiving bad press at the moment?

No, I look at this as an unfortunate situation which should be dealt with as a national, not an international event.

Interview: The Skatalites

How do you feel the rise of the internet generation has affected reggae’s popularity across the world?  

The internet generation has contributed tremendously to the opening up of new markets and the renewed interest in old reggae playgrounds.

How does it feel to be representing Jamaican music and culture so far from its roots (in time and distance!)? 

It is an honor which we take very seriously and it gives us great pleasure to bring this musical/spiritual vibration everywhere every time.

The Skatalites
50th Anniversary Jam
Wed, April 16
Buy tickets here

Additonal reporting by Marek Zeleny.

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