Cali P ADD

Interview with Cali P

11/06/2014 by Munchy

Interview with Cali P

After three albums reggae singer Cali P finally put forward a brand new project, which is announced as an EP but including no less than nine tracks could easily pass as an album again. Leaving all technicalities aside, the release is definitely a great listen and steps up to its title the Healing Of The Nation - roots tonic for the ears and the hearts, medicine for the mind and the soul, meditative and deep lyrics embedded in Reggae, one drop live music created by producers from all over the globe. Munchy linked Cali P in Switzerland to find out more about the background of the songs, ideas and motivations, and to reason with the artist about his greatest inspiration: life itself.

The Healing Of The Nation – in times of Ebola and Chick-V healing should be quite popular. So please let us know, what the Healing Of The Nation is!
It's exactly what it says: the healing of the the nation. There are so much problems that get promoted in the world, so much negative vibes, fights against one another. It's time for some healing, solutions, something positive. Since we know Reggae as a music that pushes positivity, the live element, vibrations, good feelings, I just came to realize that my EP is called Healing Of The Nation.

When we spoke in Zurich last year, you mentioned the upcoming album MusiCALI sPeaking, which is actually a different project. So how did the Healing Of The Nation come about?
From ever since I was always creating and recording a lot as an artist, also writing a lot in different genres of music such as Dancehall, Reggae, Hip Hop. I really like to be productive, but at the same time I like to monitor my releases not to have too much things flooding the market, so that one thing would fight the other. The last album I put out was in 2011. Since then I have been working on MusiCALI sPeaking with Bobby Digital in Jamaica. When I realized the album is still going to take some more time, which is not a problem to me, I just wanted to have a project ready for this year 2014/2015. People were requesting a live record from Cali P, an authentic roots record. I got a lot of messages like this over the years and that made me decide that this year, if I'm not putting out the album, I will still release something.
In April I actually came to that decision and linked producers, people that work in reggae music for a long time, that I really rate and respect like Teka, who already worked on my first album back in 2008, Riga of course, Junior Blender, also people that I know from France, Denmark, New York, Jamaica. These are all persons that I rate musically, so I knew that we could put up a strong project together.

On the nine tracks of the EP you worked with eight different producers, yet the sound is very round, consistent, an even unit.
That was really my goal. That is what I mean, when I say I monitor my releases. When I put out an album or an EP I want it to be 'one sound'. I don't want you to listen to it and feel like it's just a compilation of songs. For that we have singles, that we're putting out all the time. Of course it's a team work because there are two things to it: the musical direction, which I'd say I play a big role in putting my music together, but also the project direction, which is more Hemp Higher/Riga, who does the business part, ensures that it's getting out there. I linked all the producers, asked them to send me music and then I selected the tracks I wanted to work with. Some of them sent me ten riddims and I used one. I also continued working for every producer on the project. In Jamaica I recorded some guitars and the background harmonies for all the songs. That also played a big role in creating that one sound, just like the mastering in the end.

Unlike you latest full-length album Unstoppable, that was released three years ago, you didn't focus on Dancehall music, but completely went with Roots and Reggae. You don't like Dancehall again?
No, I love Dancehall music definitely, but over the time I also realized that Dancehall is loved for being Dancehall and Reggae is loved for being Reggae. There are a lot of people that love both, there are some that really focus on Reggae music and others that only focus on Dancehall. I want to make projects in the future, that I livicate to my Reggae listeners and other projects for the more Dancehall or Hip Hop fans. You will definitely hear some Dancehall music from Cali P again in due time, but right now it was time for me also as I enjoyed doing a live production, involving other musicians. That is something I really love in life: seeing music gets created and working on it.

Did you also play any instruments yourself?
Not this time, but I sent My Home to my father. He played percussion on it in Guadeloupe and from his group, they recorded drums on it.

Quoting from another statement regarding this issue you have 'really emerged into Jamaican culture by living in Kingston' and you wish 'to contribute to the movement'. What do you consider the movement? And being an artists, who is familiar with both the European as well as the Jamaican reggae scene: how do you view the current state of reggae music?
I can very well explain that, because when I reached to Jamaica four years ago I realized that at that moment people in Europe were paying more attention to Reggae music than the Jamaicans themselves. I moved to Jamaica at a moment, when Reggae music would be considered out and it wasn't playing that much. When you went to the dances you would hear more Soul music from America, Hip Hop, R'n'B or hardcore Dancehall music than Reggae. I found that really unfortunate, because if Reggae is on top in Jamaica automatically it will be even bigger in places like Europe, the States, Japan. From the moment I came to Jamaica I really wanted to contribute to Jamaicans knowing and remembering that Reggae is their strongest music still. That is also when I realized to make Dancehall for Dancehall fans and Reggae for Reggae fans, because Reggae is loved for what it is. There are people that love Reggae for 30 years and they still love it right now, but they are starting to feel like there is no output anymore. Now after two, three years there is this big change that came with what they call the Reggae Revival. That is really, really good for the music and also for Jamaica. Today I came from the train and somebody told me, that when the hear Jamaica they think of Reggae. This music should be on top every time for the benefit of the country and that is what I want to contribute to, because I love Reggae, I grew up with it, and I think it only deserves to be up top!

Yeah man, definitely! And speaking of places... your roots are in Switzerland and Guadeloupe. Now you live in Kingston. And there you go singing „Africa is my place, yes that is where I want to be“ (My Home) and „Africa is where me belong“ (Wha Gwaan). So when will you pack your bags and move to the Motherland?
I went to Africa a lot of times already, even before I ever went to Jamaica, when I was 17, 18. I stayed a two, three months to really live up and feel what I am talking about when I say my home, because the welcome I get every time I go there – weather it's from people I know or I don't – it's always just great. I didn't see this nowhere in the world. Many times people say that Africa is like the Caribbean, but it's the other way around, the Caribbean is like Africa. Africa is the roots. The people have a strong meditation, faith, believe, that I love. I just enjoy being in Africa and I definitely work on being there in the future. I really see myself there, as well as my family, but there is a lot of work to be done first of all. Every time I go to Africa I realize more what my mission in life is, why I am making music, living in Jamaica, spreading the music. It's all part of that goal of going to Africa.  

What places have you been to in particular and how was the experience like?
The first time I was in Gambia. That was in 2003/2004. I went there for a month. The sound system Mighty Children, Moses, who is a real bredrin of mine until these days, invited me there. We did a tour that was called the Mamaland Tour. We played four shows and while we were there we promoted these shows so hard, that to the last show 3,000 people came. It was just the craziest show I ever did in my life! When I took the mic and only said a word the securities left the door, they started to jump around, everybody just went crazy. It was mad! Just being with the people, cooking together, hold a vibes with them, those are things that I really love about Africa. After Gambia I was also in Senegal, the Northern parts like Tunisia, and this year in April just before the Ebola thing started I was in Guinea. The show we did there was big and crazy. It was a great experience and gave me strength.

There is even a Cali P Africa page on Facebook.
Yeah! When I was in Guinea there were so much youths that came around. We were there for one week. I brought a producer with me, Kaprisson from France, who also produced a track for the Healing Of The Nation EP. He carried equipment, so we built a studio in a hotel room and the whole week we recorded with different artists that were playing on the festival, ghetto youths, street youths that just came by and brought their talents. At the same time there were some young people, who are active on Facebook and they said 'Yo Cali P we want to make a African fan page for you. Do you allow us to do that?' and I was like 'Go ahead, of course!'. They are really active doing their thing. I give thanks!

What is going to happen with all the recordings you did there?
There was Tal B, a rapper from Mali. We recorded a Rap song together, that is just getting mixed and he will release it as a single in Mali. I also recorded with Angie Tonton from Sierra Leone. We made a fiery Dancehall-Pop style song that she will put out. It's really about spreading the music and work with the people in the Mamaland, too.

In Wha Gwaan you tell the story of your life, also the story of your career and you sing about people saying, that you were too militant, that you should change your lyrics. What criticism did you have to face? What gave you the strength to still do your thing and “nuh follow back a man” as you sing?
That is really reality talking right there. When I was younger, 16/17 years old I was more rough. I grew up as a Rasta youth still, but that age was the top of the fire time 'bun this, bun that'. I was living in Europe and most of the times when I was going to the dances I bun a fire and it was not always welcome. Maybe some people felt it and others thought it was too much. They said 'Look at other artists, they start to ease up with their lyrics, so you should do that as well, maybe this would make your career better'. What the people in that moment failed to realize is that I don't sing for a career. I really sing what is on my mind and what I feel. That includes also growth and experience. Those same things make me travel the world. It also made me realize that I prefer for people to come together than to war each other. Everything in life is a experience that leads you to where you're going and where you're at right now. So if burning the fire made me wiser then it was really the right thing to do. It's purification.

You should always be true to yourself.
Exactly! And for me as a teenager that was what kept me on a righteous path. It was maybe for me to always remember to keep myself clean and good. There are a lot of different meditations going on around you in school but I kept my natural life style.

One of my favorite songs on the Healing Of The Nation is Solution. In the song you ask “Why not make someone happy, 'cause they might just have the worst day”. The sentence is a great reminder of a little good deed one can do everyday. Did you do a good deed today as yet?
Yeah, today I was in the train speaking about healing music. Somebody saw my locks and they started to speak about Jamaica. They said when they think of the country, then they think about Reggae music. Instantly we started to reason about this. I really like that people can look into Reggae music as healing music, because even that girl told me that listening Bob Marley makes her happy. I think the good thing today was to just speak about that, big up yard, tell her about Healing Of The Nation and give her a flyer, because maybe it's some healing for her, too. Sometimes even on Facebook or via e-mail I get messages from people, who are really depressed or not feeling well and they open up themselves. They listen to songs like I Know There Is Life or Jah Rule The World and it relaxes them and helps them to reflect on how much they actually love their life, makes them look up and be happy about what they have. That's exactly what brought out that sentence for Solution, because we should focus less on problems but more on the solutions. It's the right time for things to get better or be good. Sometimes you don't know what type of day the person in front of you faces. You might see a screw face, but you don't know what led to that. A little action can make this person smile again. Those are things I want to focus on.

But Solution is not just about good deeds. It's mainly about the problems, that poor people have to face, the fact that they are forgotten by the bigger-heads, who are blinded by the money, the gap between the rich and the poor, which is very present in Jamaica...
Even worldwide! And sometimes you have people that come from a poor surrounding and they find a way – which is so great – but then forget the poor. Also those people I want to remind: Remember where you come from! Because when you didn't have it, you had the best ideas of what you wanted to do when you have it. Now you have it, but you forgot the ideas. So it's also to remind my people, who make it in life.

Just a few weeks ago the Global Wealth Study by Credit Suisse was released. It shows that less than 1 % of the world's population owns 44 % of the global wealth. 70 % of the people share 3 % of the entire worth. If all the world's money was divided equally everyone would own 56,000 US$. Your home country Switzerland ranks number one with a per capita wealth of 581,000 US$.
And the craziest thing is that I know Switzerland and I don't know anybody that's really rich. It's middle class, nobody is poor, but I don't know anybody who has an immense amount of money. Trust me, I would love to have a friend like that right now. It's crazy! And hearing this also upsets me because it shows exactly that it's just a few people that own everything.

Can you imagine if all the money was divided equally everyone had 56,000 US$? That's crazy!
And it would also be a huge problem because the ones, who are poor might be able to survive with that money, but those who are used to so much money, they would feel so poor in that moment, that they wouldn't even know how to exist anymore with 56,000 US$.

But even though we are far from the 56,000 US$, you still recognize I Am Bless. I think it is a great step, when one can actually stand up and say that. Like Dostoevsky says: “Man is unhappy because he doesn't know he's happy.” Many times we completely forget how blessed we actually are, waking up in the morning, having a bed to sleep in at night, being able to turn on a pipe and have clean water. When was actually the moment you realized: Yes, indeed, I Am Bless?

Really and truly it was always like that. That is how I grew up. Give thanks to my parents, who raised me to give thanks for life. Prayer for me is not about asking. In the first place it's to give thanks. If you want to pray right, that's how it should be. It starts from there and that is also how you will reach further in life. I always give thanks for life and I know that I am blessed because I have life, I am doing what I love to do naturally. I didn't chose to be a musician. It came naturally and I love it so much that I can continue do that, travel the world, bring good vibes to people, make them happy.

You said you grew up like that, but when I listened the EP I felt like you were even more reflected and mature on this record. Would you agree with that? Have you been meditating and reasoning a lot in the past few years? What or who has inspired you the most?
Of course! Life in general inspires me. Everyday we learn. The good thing about the Healing Of The Nation is that I just recorded it all a couple of months ago. It's very fresh. It's me right now. When you heard Unstoppable there were songs that were recorded two years before the album came out. My first album Lyrical Faya was released in 2008, but we recorded songs for it since 2004/2005.
Living in Jamaica for the last four years definitely put a lot to my life, also in the sense of giving thanks for what I have. Living in a third world country makes you realize that there are a lot of levels to life in the world. It made me reflect more, realize more things that are happening in the world, where I see injustice, and that also inspires my music. At the same time I left Europe, Switzerland, because I didn't really like the whole livity. I didn't enjoy it. But being in Jamaica I realized that this is also no bed of roses. Also Guadeloupe, which is paradise, Caribbean, beaches, is not a bed of roses. No matter where in the world you are, you will have struggles. It's just how to work with it and get through it.

Speaking of Guadeloupe, you're going to be touring the Healing Of The Nation and you will also be performing in your home country. Are excited to go there?
Right now I am very, very excited about this whole movement. Just before I left Jamaica last month I was rehearsing with my band Warrior Love. They played many big shows with great artists in Jamaica and we found this unity right now to say we're going to work together. I always wanted to have some good musicians around. They are exactly that type I wanted to work with: younger but experienced and they can play and love a lot of different music. They are into Reggae, Dancehall, Hip Hop. Right now we are preparing an all around thing. When Guadeloupe linked me to say they wanted a show with a band, it was a real blessing. We get a chance to showcase there, what we have been working on. That just makes me really happy. We're going to be there November 17 and the show will be free. Everybody can join us in the midst of the city. It's going to be mad!
And I am also very excited and happy to bring the Healing Of The Nation to Gabre Selassie's Dub Club in Kingston on November 23. Don't miss that, also worldwide on the live stream!

Would you like to share a message with the Reggaeville family?
Of course! Always keep steppin! All the followers out there keep it positive, keep supporting the thing because by the end of the day you make things happen.
To Reggaeville itself I want to give thanks for the platform, the work they put in. I know Reggaeville before it was Reggaeville. I saw Julian Schmidt's photos when it was still To see people always being on a mission and then gathering others together like you, Markus and everybody in unity, that is really a blessing. Big up Reggaeville from the heart for bringing information to the people, supporting the music in a positive way, because that is what Reggae needs.