Bugle ADD

Interview with Bugle - From Anointed to Be Yourself

01/30/2017 by Gardy Stein

Interview with Bugle - From Anointed to Be Yourself

While designations like "Reggae Revival" or "Rockers Rebirth" are on everyone's lips, another movement has crept up on us less noticed, less hyped, but powerful all the same. It might be called something like "Dancehall De-slackification", a welcome step away from Scandal, Booze and Pum Pum to consciousness, positivity and true teachings in Dancehall music. Recently, few artists represent these values more than Roy Thompson aka Bugle. His celebrated debut album Anointed is a milestone in this fast-paced business, and since its launch 2014, the ambitious artist continues to release fine tunes almost weekly (remember Wha Dat Fah?) and came up with an EP called Reggae Knowledge in early 2016.

And Bugle continues to make broad strokes. With Be Yourself, he now presents to the world another masterpiece, filled to the brim with uplifting, life-affirming tracks that shine in a splendid variety few releases manage to uphold. A clever observer and lyricist, this artist gives and deserves full attention. That's why Reggaeville gladly took the chance to reason about Be Yourself, Dancehall and the power of words:

Before we speak about the new release, let's take a look back. People are still crazy over your album Anointed, the title track is played on almost every dance. What does it mean to you?

To tell you the truth, that album was really a great accomplishment for me. I think two of the greatest albums that came out of Jamaica in my time were Til Shiloh by Buju Banton and The Real Thing by Sizzla Kalonji, other than the Junior Gong Albums. Those are my favourites. And to have my debut album being compared to Til Shiloh and The Real Thing, that is an accomplishment for me. People keep saying that since these two, Anointed is one of the best albums dem get!

In Jamaica, apart from the live shows you do, you often take the time to perform in schools. Why is it so important for you to do this?

I remember watching an interview with a specific artist a couple of years ago, and he said "Music is for amusement only." I could not approve of that because I know the influence that music had on me as a likkle youth growing up. Like, when Bounty Killa used to say "People Dead", I was convinced that somebody a go be dead. You know, music had a great influence pon me, I used to believe every single thing whe Sizzla say, like I take it personally, anything whe Sizzla se was Gospel. So I know the influence whe mi music a go have pon di youths dem. The best way to get to the youths dem is to go where dem is! Because, I mean, when dem go on the internet and listen to music, it naa mean se dem a spend enough time fi really get what you're saying. But when you now go where dem is and you interact with dem and you perform fi dem and dem sing along and take pictures and you sign autographs - that's personal! So I love doing those things, I love going in the schools and perform for the kids and the teachers and it feels like a family vibe cause I got three kids, so... I would want other artists to influence my kids in a positive way, so I'm trying my best to influence other people's kids in a positive way.

You certainly do. I think your song texts are on a very high level lyrically compared to other artists of the genre...

I think one of the reasons why I'm separated from the pack is because a lot of artists focus on entertainment, so they will do and say anything in the name of entertainment. I focus on teaching, but my teachings come with entertainment, you understand, so that kind of makes me different. I don't just want to sing because I can get pay fi sing. I don't want to be on a show because I'm getting money to be on the show. Me wan know se when me do dat show de, me have people come out fi get some great inspiration. I can stop in the middle of the show and talk to the people dem and encourage the people dem, you know, just like when me go on Facebook and I put up positive notes. I know people are coming out to see me fi a positive energy, so me haffi just deal wid dem in a positive way and reach out to di people dem, so that's just Bugle.

In this line, what do you think has more power, words or music?

Well... it is really like Jah say: In the beginning there was the word. So, word means everything to me. When you tell me something I'm going to believe you, because that's your word. When I'm telling you something, I want you to believe me because that's my word, so word means the world to me. The word is the power! Without the word, there would be no song, so you have to use the word to make up a song. You put the instruments around and it becomes music, you see.

So, with all the consciousness you put in the lyrics, would you still consider yourself a Dancehall artist?

I'm always going to see myself as a Dancehall artist slash Reggae artist, because me start out as a Dancehall Artist. Dat a where me a come from, and me cyaan forget where me come from cause if you forget where you come from, you definitely naa go reach far. So me haffi accept me past in order fi know me future. Bugle started out as a Dancehall artist and me still sing a dancehall riddim regardless if tomorrow me have di biggest One Drop song pon di face a di planet or number one pon di Billboard charts, and it won't stop me from singing Dancehall, I'm always going to be a part of Dancehall. It was my influence. Me start to listen to Sizzla and he's really my influence from Dancehall to One Drop, and after that me started to sing consciousness with melodies and all a that, and me find out me master it good and me start to record and people give me a great vibes. That's who I want to be, what me want fi do, just sing positive music regardless of the riddim of the song... cause Dancehall really and truly, what is Dancehall? It's just the beat, but it doesn't mean that you have to sing about the underneath of a woman or shooting somebody, no! You can sing positive conscious music same way and have fun same way. Me a go always be that kind of artist with Dancehall and conscious music.

Your new masterpiece is called Be Yourself. How would you introduce the album to the world?

My work always means the world to me, whether it's an album or a single. But how I would describe this album... it's actually self-explanatory. Meaning, the title track of the album explains what the album a talk bout, being yourself. In anything whe you do, like literally anything at all whe you do - be yourself. So, we have songs like Endurance, Devalue, songs like Always A Way, songs like Better Must Come, you know. Of course, we believe in entertain while we educate and on that basis now, I have songs like the Rasta Party Remix that feature Tarrus Riley and Sizzla, and I have a song whe name Ganja featuring Shaggy and a love song on there, Love Me Only, that features a new artist outta Jamaica, her name is Shensea, and I also have another song that features Rockaz Element, that one is Sophisticated Sufferer. So the album starts with Be Yourself and it ends with Acceptance, so what I'm saying is that even though I'm telling you to be yourself, I still accept you for who you are. That's why I start the album and I end it like that.
So, the Be Yourself album is definitely a collector's item, it has something fi everyone. I would say it has a more Europe base, based on the fact that I have riddims like Satta Massagana, I have riddims like Prison Oval Rock, and the EDM kind a vibe (sings: Ganja, Ganja…) so the album has something fi look out or something fi listen to and pay close attention and have inna you collection. I just hope the people love it and enjoy it as much as I loved and enjoyed putting it together. Listen to this album. And don't listen to one track, listen to all of them, because there is something fi everybody on it!

Can you say something about the artists you mentioned, Shensea and Rockaz?

Rockaz Element is a new group outta Spanish Town. They are fresh so to speak and very talented, a group of three Rastafarians… we a Jamaica woulda say dem bad! The title of the song is Sophisticated Sufferer, and for me, no matter how me a suffer, me ago do it intelligent, so you naa go know se me suffer. You understand? So no matter wha gwaan inna your life, you still hold up you head, you understand whe mi a say? So that's how we have the title Sophisticated Sufferer. Shensea now, it's a new girl on the scene and she's doing well, but she's doing mostly Dancehall. I put her on a Reggae riddim, and we made this love song.

Beautiful. What made you put a riddim like Satta Massagana on it?

Because of the fact that you cyaan lef out the roots. The roots is where everything started from. I don't usually record on those riddims, but those riddims mean everything to Reggae music, so when you hear Satta Massagana it a bring you right back inna di 70ies, and even before the 70ies, too. And the kind of vibe, the kind of message whe me have, sometime it need that kind of riddim to explain yourself on. So, I used Satta Massagana and I used Prison Oval Rock.

You also relate to Jimmy Cliff in Better Must Come. What's your connection?

The connection I have to Jimmy Cliff is the same connection I would have to Bob Marley or Peter Tosh and so forth. I listened to their music and I acknowledge them. They are great people, they actually set the foundation, so the music them do connected to me and that made me connected to them personally. That's why a couple years ago I sing a song and in it me say "You are my best friend even though you never know this." because people like them now, we grow up and listen to, they become like a part of your life without even knowing that. So we fi always recognize the great people, always recognize those who paved the way and made it easier for us because it wasn't as easy for them as it is for us today, so we haffi big up them people. So me always a go talk bout people like Jimmy Cliff and The Abyssinians and Freddy McGregor, whoever it is that paved the way, you name it. Me always have respect fi dem people.

Apart from yourself, who else was part of the production?

The album is executively produced by me, of course, it was my idea to do it, I record that album inna my own studio, but I have different musicians that work with me. So like, on three of the tracks I have Kunley from Ward 21 doing the riddims where he get his musicians, because the album is live, most of the album is live. Like Kunley now, I asked him to play a couple a di tracks so he gets his musicians and he do it. Then I have Seanizzle doing the Rasta Party track, I have Mr. G using his musicians to do the Satta Massagana, I have different different people doing their thing, which was great! It was really really good. I mean, just the variety of people to have something to do with the album… I don't keep it inna one circle, I keep it wide, so many people put a whole lot a vibes in it, you know, di energy different because of what I would do then. Like, three of the riddims, I made Kunley mix the riddim but I make Ricardo 'Redboom' Reid mix up the vocals, so it's a totally different sound. That's what I did to get the sound that I want.

And who did the backing vocals?

Adeena Myrie, which is the sister of Buju Banton, it's the first who did the backing vocals.

Great sound. How did you link up with Shaggy to do the Ganja song?

Well, Shaggy is always somebody you can reach. He is one of the easiest persons to talk to. Shaggy don't mind having a conversation with anybody! So, wha me do is, I was in New York and this was in September. And me just got Shaggy number and call him and tell him se 'Look, me have something fi mek you listen to'. And him say 'Yeah, no problem, come by me studio!' and I went by him studio and link him and him hear it one time and fall in love with it. And this was on a Monday, and by the Tuesday him record it and I come back to Jamaica and by the Wednesday I got it inna me Email. So it… you know, that's how it go with good music. Shabba Ranking once said, when artist hear a boom riddim, it no matter who produce it, you have to record nice. That's exactly what happened to the Ganja song. Shaggy hear it one time and him know se, it's something good. And he don't mind being a part of it even though he don't smoke Ganja! But him is a Jamaican so he have something to do with it! (laughs)

And also the remix you did with Tarrus Riley and Sizzla... I mean, the Rasta Party song in itself is already a boom tune, what made you do another remix again?

Because I want the album to be special. I don't want the album to be the same thing that you hear every day, I want it to be special so I decided that 'Ok, I would like to put Tarrus and Sizzla on my album, but how can I do that?' You understand, so I just decided to remix the Rasta Party. So I call Tarrus one time and him come a studio fi record it. Sizzla was on tour and I sent it to him and he recorded it on tour and sent it back to me, so... it was fast because of the relationship whe me have and the respect we have for each other because if Tarrus Riley call me to do something fi him me woulda lef almost everything to be there, Sizzla the same thing. So it's just a mutual respect we have fi each other, you know. We just get things done without no question. It's a great vibe! It was really nice making this album, especially knowing that I make this album in my own studio. It's a great energy.

So you used most of 2016 to work on it, right?

Yes, I used like nine months to make this album, so yeah... me just really take myself from the road, completely, like local and international, just staying in the studio and put this album together, and I think it's one of the best decisions I ever made.

Will there be a tour to promote the album?

Definitely! I'm glad you mention that, because we are looking at Europe first. So we put shows together in Europe right now, we supposed to come there like end of March or April, and then me want to come back to Europe for the summer, for the festivals and stuff, and then I want to come back to Europe again to do a winter tour, so I'm looking forward to come to Europe about three times this year. Right now me is a European! (laughs) I love Europe, I like being there, I love all the people who actually accept and appreciate our music. I feel like family, I feel connected to the people when I'm in Europe, so I'd stay in Europe for a year if I have to!

Will there be a release party?

I'm not sure, I had so much going on and I just want to make sure everything is planned properly. With the Anointed album, it was such a big album launch, I can't go less than that so I have to get everything together properly. I mean, that was still one a di biggest album launches ever kept in Jamaica, it was more than 3.000 people, nobody has ever seen an album launch like that in Jamaica. I want do it even bigger, not only one time but for the whole a Jamaica, so I have to make sure that we reach to the people of Jamaica, even the country part.

Let us know when there is a date fixed! Apart from this professional outlook of the artist Bugle, let us know something about the private life of Roy Thompson. What do you enjoy to do in your leisure time, for instance?

Cooking! (laughs) I love to cook! I'm not a full fledged vegetarian in that I consume fish, but fish only from the sea. And based on the fact that I am a good cook, I am very picky when food is concerned. Not everybody can cook fi me cause you haffi watch the taste and all that cause I don't use powder season and dem ting. That's what I love to do in my leisure time, I love to cook and chill out with my youths dem. Even on tour... usually, when promoters book me for a show it's in my contract that I need a room with a stove. So when I get to wherever, first thing I want to find is a supermarket and as long as me find a supermarket mi good, mi no need no food!


True. Anything you wish to add?

I have to say a special shout-out to the Europeans who have been supporting Reggae & Dancehall music. It means a lot, not only to me as an artist but to Jamaica on a whole. Because when we stay a Jamaica and see how people react to we music, especially Europeans, it touch me in a deep spot. So me have to say nuff love, nuff respect and big up to the fans who have been supporting the music from before Bob Marley come straight down to Bugle, to Chronixx and Tarrus Riley, to everybody, we truly truly appreciate that. Me a go always have this connection with my fans worldwide, from a positive perspective. And of course look out for new videos, for more positive music to come. We haffi say nuff shout-out to the producers dem, big up all the people who Bugle work with. Big up all di magazines, all di soundman dem, because no clash naa gwaan in Europe we dem naa call me an say we haffi kill sound, we want that song. So big up everyone who is supporting us!