Dactah Chando - The Global Cityzen Interview
04/27/2018 by Christian Moll
Shortly after Dactah Chando had arrived in Germany in preparation for his Global Cityzen tour from May 3rd to 22nd, Reggaeville spoke to him about his choices and experiences with the new album. While already in the middle of rehearsing and vibing, he talks about globalization and puts his album into context.
Dactah Chando and Umberto Echo produced Global Cityzen in cooperation with Gentleman’s current live band The Evolution.
Why did you decide to work with Umberto Echo and The Evolution for your new album? How did this collaboration come about?
I decided it first because I have been loving his work so much from a long time. I had the opportunity to meet him and had some remixes in my second album Sabiduria. Since then, and after knowing him personally, in my opinion, he is one of the best reggae producers. By the time we produced the new album, my first choice was him again, after he had already produced my 5th album Ansestral. He said yes, and suggest to record the tracks with The Evolution, so immediately agreed. Umberto is a friend of some of the members of The Evolution. Eventually, everything was a family thing and that was even better for the result.
Does the Album title Global Cityzen refer to you, as the person Antonio Fernando Bethencourt Sosa aka. Dactah Chando, or does it include a broader community?
Well, I would say, (…) thanks to my last years in music, I experienced how huge and diverse the world is. I have to learn a lot and in this moment of my life, I considered myself a member of this big community, which is the entire humanity. I want to be inclusive too, I want everyone to be included.
Does it maybe even allude to globalization in general?
It could be interpreted this way, but my intention with the title is to introduce the idea of oneness and equality in a positive way.
It is very interesting that on many songs you switch back and forth between Spanish and English. In how far is this bilingualism part of your Global Cityzen concept?
I had the idea while the album was being created (…), while the songs were com-posed, the possibility to write an entire English or Spanish album at same time came into my mind. Then I started to write, and naturally, I started to jump be-tween languages, something new for me, and I liked it. After that came the title, so everything flows in that way. The English language means a connection to more people worldwide, and eventually, with music, we connect with others and share ideas.
On your previous albums, you often cooperated with various producers like Toby Nambur, Guido Craveiro, Roberto Sanchez and Rob Smith, just to name a few. Were there Co-Producers involved on Global Cityzen as well? I mean other than yourself?
Not in this case, only Umberto and me.
What role did the Musicians of The Evolution play for the development of the sound on Global Cityzen?
The Evolution played an important role in the way the songs sounds. The way they play together, the way they did the recordings, it just gives the album its entire personality. On the one hand, they are not officially the producers, but on the other hand, they really are. I feel so grateful for that, so many creative minds and hands in the album. This reflects the idea of the album title, too.
In how far were you involved in the musical creation process? Did you work on the riddims with The Evolution or did you work with Umberto Echo at the Sequencer and the mixer? What was your role as a producer on this album like?
Well, I composed the songs in my home studio, I mean, the harmonies, the drum line, bass line, backings, keys, dubs, etc. I play some instruments and know about software and stuff, I used to work in recording studios as an engineer, so it is easy of me to do that. Then I did some mixes and sent Umberto the demos so The Evolution could hear the songs and play it likewise, but with their very own touch. A few weeks after that, we gathered in the studio and they recorded the songs. Playing together, they did the what I created, but with some improvements, of course, there’s always some things that change, and there are others that they created and we decided to include, in the studio after checking what was recorded. Then Umberto and Pollensi on Keys did many overdub tracks with even more sounds, just to have more ideas.
Unlike your other albums, there are no features with other artists on Global Cityzen, was that a conscious decision or is this just how things went?
Yes, for me, features must be something special, hand to hand, so I got no chance to share with no one this time. I know it’s easy to find someone who wants to feature, and does it by internet. However, I would say that the features in this album are the ones of the musicians, they did a tremendously good job, and as a music lover, I think musicians are not always recognized well enough, and they are the foundation of songs, they´re so important, like a singer. So, I would say that my album has a lot of good features! I mean, the very best players around!
Even though Global Cityzen consists only of eight songs, you still cover quite a broad range of reggae music with it. You have Ska-inspired tunes like Every Day next to Nyabinghi Heartbeats like Jah Loves You. You have modern Roots and sometimes even Dancehall elements like toasting. However, you never go far from what is known under the umbrella term Reggae. In your own words, what musical route is Global Cityzen taking for you?
I think you describe it so well! I love the old school way of reggae so much, Roots Reggae, Dub, but also some freshness. If I had to resume it, I would say that it´s an entire reggae roots album, full of many styles and influences from all ages.
With the release of your new album, you also start touring. What feelings do you have so shortly before the Global Cityzen tour starts? You must be in the middle of rehearsing and preparing right now, aren’t you?
True! I feel like I never felt before because it´s my first huge presentation tour in Europe, so I´m really excited and nervous, but happy and grateful as well. Yes, I just arrived in Germany to meet my partners who are gonna help me to tour, and we´re preparing everything, rehearsing and vibing!
Who is your backing band for the tour? Any familiar names?
Yes of course, I´m so happy to have again Sumalee Berlinger on bass and Daniel Rickler on guitars, from Next Generation Family, on drums I have Toby Nambur, he also is a very good drummer, and in the mixing desk I have Bernhard Fischer. Very nice team, looking forward to play with them.
Speaking about live culture, you also released a Live Album called Live at Reggae Can last December. What was the reason you put out a live album so shortly before the release of your new studio album, and why did you choose the show at Reggae Can for the live album?
It was by chance, we did the gig, and the organization got the audio tracks and the video shooting so well done that once we had it, we listened to it, watched the images, and everything was perfect! I never released a live album with a video included, and so we just had to think about a release date.
Very often, your music’s spirit is connected with the spirit of your home island. Especially in the context of seeing yourself as a “Global Cityzen”, where do you see these connections, and where don’t you?
We are part of the same planet, and once you realize that, no matter where you are, you feel that connection. Every human being feels the same here or there, in an island or a city, of course, the livity in natural places is better for your spirit, at least in my personal opinion, so the connection with the nature is the main thing. It´s true, when I´m in big cities I feel a bit disconnected, because of the stress and fast way of living, but even there, I find a connection. As far as you go or travel, your inner being is the creation itself. Now if you know that, you´re always connected.
Sometimes you are referred to as the grand master or pioneer of Canarian Style Reggae. How do you feel being described as such?
Such big words by the way, thanks. I feel like someone who does what he wants to do. I have the chance to do so in my life, but I don´t have such a feeling.
If there is such a thing as Canarian Style Reggae, what are the characteristic features that identify the Reggae as Canarian?
Yes, stylistic wise, there´s an island flow inside, we have many influences there because of our musical tradition between Africa and the rest of the world. So I think, Canaries, as a particular community, have their own approach to music. I think what defines Canaries as such is the flow, the way of seeing life and the way how we live.
Back to the album. The song Friend carries a very emotional message. Can you tell us how this song came about?
Yes. I wrote this song after losing someone important in my life and that brought me to a point of desperation, sadness and at same time happiness for everything lived. everyone knows how this process is, hard, but part of life.
Ring the Alarm is ment to wake up people in order for humanity to avoid disaster. In your opinion, what main threats will we have to overcome?
First of all, it is mental corruption that bring us to this point. And being more specific, plastic waste, fuel burning, industrial meat production processes, waste of water and energy, that and many other things.
My Way is a very individualistic song. What did “your way” look like so far, and do you want to continue walking it?
In this song, I have to reflected on how important your own self being is, but not the ego, just to be conscious about what you are, what you need and what you can do for yourself first, and then for others. Mainly we´re alone, and we have to fix our internal structure to serve the rest. We cannot go out without knowing what´s inside, when I mean My Way, it is not the way of Dactah Chando, it is the way of the human being. Because we are the same being, each one of us feels the same feelings and emotions, so there´s no difference and no such thing like: special or so,… we are one. So, I encourage listeners to find the inside light, and recognize the creational power we really have.
What was your main inspiration for writing the lyrics on Global Cityzen? What kind of writer are you? Do you sit down with a pen, or maybe even a computer, or do you collect material from studio sessions? What are your in-spirations? How did you create the lyrics on Global Cityzen?
Global Cityzen came from the anger I feel when I see humanity going astray, fighting each other, lying to each other, acting like demons. I feel the urgency to talk about that. We need to work hard with ourselves, we should never forget that. I use to write on paper, sometimes I put together some words in a note book that I use, sometimes I sit down in front of the speakers and write while I´m hearing the riddms,…it depends on the inspiration and the moment, sometimes with a guitar, sometimes with a sampler, depends on the vibe.
Is there anything else you want to share with your audience regarding your new album?
Yes, thanks. This album gathers the very best of the European musical reggae scene. So beautiful and well done, with lots of small and nice details music lovers can appreciate and really enjoy. It’s a trip around many classical reggae styles and pays tribute to what we love the most. And once again, it’s the perfect example of what the collaboration between people could bring,..and is love and beauty.
Thanks, for the interview Chando, and all the best for the tour!