Dactah Chando ADD
Interview with Dactah Chando
03/07/2016 by Gardy Stein
Waking up to the sound of rolling waves, going for a walk on the beach or dipping into the ocean for a swim or a round of surfing... living on the Canary Islands must be pretty awesome! Thus it's actually little wonder that Dactah Chando makes such positive, uplifting music. His latest release Ansestral bears again proof of both his vocal feats and his songwriting skills. Since the latter can only be experienced with a good command of Spanish, Reggaeville linked the artist for a private language lesson:
Where do I catch you, are you home?
Yes, in my home office so to say, my studio.
Tell us something about the production process, how did you get started on your new album Ansestral?
We started about 2015 maybe, and then I did 2 or 3 productions in my home, I do all the stuff like programming with my computer. I do the main thing like bass line, drumming, keyboards, everything, and so from here, I prepared everything and then I gave it to Filou, who is Umberto Echo, and then he played everything, the same lines and the same drums and the same harmonies, but with some good musicians, his team. He has some wonderful musicians like Jamaram and many others, and they play like heaven, you know. When you see your thoughts passing through a music master, and you hear the result of this kind of composition, it's just wonderful. The sounds he worked on it, I was like wow. These guys are really amazing musicians and the way they play is really beautiful. The mixing and the arranging, with the details and everything, I give thanks for the time that he spent on it. I am very happy to have this kind of support.
So the musicians were brought in by Umberto Echo, right? Do you have a band on your own?
There are some guys who are friends of mine, musicians, so sometimes we play together when they pass. Sometimes I mix a kind of DJ thing with a drummer or a bass player. With some of these musicians we do some projects, we move around with a few people. Sometimes we record as well, but it's not a fixed band. So it's like we have everything on computer and it sounds perfect, it's the same like in the album, we recorded some tracks that sound perfect, so tight. But sometimes I have to get some musicians depending on the country where I perform. When I played some gigs last year, I was joined by Next Generation Family, we had a few concerts in Germany, it was really nice to work with them. Sometimes I pick some musicians from here and there, I'm generally flexible. We just see how to make it possible, because that is our intention. I'm open to work with everyone!
Indeed, you have done a few collaborations over the last months, like on Razoof's Jahliya Sound. How comes that on Ansestral there are no features, was that a conscious decision?
You see, right now if you think in terms of a project like this, for a Reggae producer, collaborations are a bit hard to come by. I mean, for me the thing was a bit tight. I know that it takes time for people to get into the songs. Sometimes, once I have the chance maybe to work with a big star when they pass through, it was a way to do this. So we have the contact and we have the feeling together, you know. But I had to develop and create this album within like two months last year, so in this moment there was nobody personally around to make it easy and say 'Hey, let's record something!'. And I didn't want to call my manager and say hey I want this, I want that, so for me in this case, time was money. This album for me it's special, it was a decision to do the production like this. That's why.
The backing vocals are done by Sara Lugo, did Umberto Echo suggest her?
Yes, because the record company of Umberto Echo, they are good friends. I know Sara because I was in Munich and I worked with Next Generation Family, and I rehearsed with them. And some of the crew was from Costa Rica and also speaks Spanish, so it was like a nice vibe for me. And, you know, she is a nice singer and for me it's amazing to have her in my backing vocals. I always used to say hey, I used to be in the backing vocals, so now... she is so humble and I am happy to have such a nice background singer. She always tries to help us no matter what the necessity in the song is, so for us it was like perfect, thank you. This kind of soul thing that Sara has, it was like lending more spice to the sound and she pushes my voice to the heavens. It's the perfect background, very nice harmonies. Plus, she speaks Spanish, so it's perfect to repeat my words! (laughs)
Speaking of... I don't speak Spanish very well, so could you say a few words to each of the tracks to give people an idea what you are singing about?
Yes, of course. All my songs are always talking about culture, to give culture to the listeners, give good vibes of course, but also education and knowledge... things that one could use in the future. What is right to me like conscious on the earth my only purpose is to take the same things that I learned and put it in the music for the other people to get it, to use it again. Of course I use Spanish. I could use English or maybe Patois, but Spanish listeners have the right to good songs and enlightement just to get some really nice vibes. You know, times are rough and we need good words. So, all my songs are strictly conscious and strictly culture. Maybe one song is a kind of love song, Yo Para Ti, and in this song also... my love songs are conscious loving songs, just to give my perspective for what is with my empress, kind of respect and love at the same time, but always I use consciousness and culture.
What does Amaneciendo mean, for instance?
Rising, like the dawn in the morning. Amaneciendo it means when the sun is coming, it's like born again. Like the sun, every day when it's coming, you can get up again. Because we are all the time up and down, up and down, so we need to be born again each day to face life and the situations.
Peligro is danger. You have to pay attention to some things in life. I mean, ego first, money, vanity, this kind of aggression, this kind of competition in mind... We have to take care of this tricky situations that make you a bad person. It's kind of OK, you have to stay with your eyes open to check how the things are going on, just to be as good as possible all the times.
Ahora Es Tiempo means now it's time... time for what?
Now it's time... As you see, all my songs are about the same facts but explain it in different stories. In Ahora Es Tiempo, I say that the time is now, that there is no future. So we have to forget about the future, like this kind of hope and illusion. We have to face reality and live in the day today. Focus on the now, do the change now and not in the future. Now is the present and we live now, so it's about this kind of fact.
And Alto Grado, is it High Grade?
Yes (laughs). I'm not used to do Ganja tunes. I tell you, it's my first Ganja tune on my fourth album. For me, Ganja is integrated on me, so I don't have to talk about it because it's like the food I eat. I don't need to talk about food every day, it's like, I love the tomato and I eat tomato all the time... here in the Canaries I eat bananas all the time, you know. But this time I felt a necessitiy to say what I think about High Grade and what it means to me, so I try to do my plea to the Holy Herb.
In Historia you speak a lot about African history and achievements, right?
Yes, I try to make a historical point of view and a short resume of some times and facts that are important for anyone who wants to know anything about Africa. Because for us, for nowadays people it means this, we have to check what was in the past. Because Africa is a continent where a lot of empires, a lot of cultures developed, a lot of music, spiritual knowledge, roots, arts, universities... very elevated people, you know. I consider myself an African, because the Canary Islands are a part of the African Continent. Yes, I am from a Spanish country and I have my European identity, and I'm so happy with that because I can easily travel that. But we belong to the Western part of Africa and we feel like this, we feel Africa is our thing. So, for us as Africans we don't know anything about Africa. We know more about America and Europe, but we don't know about Africa, about our ancient cultures. So I use this song just to refresh it, so that people can recall again and go to the books and search and ask and say, let's check again. As Marcus Garvey said, you need to know where you are coming from in order to know where you are going.
And the cover has a strong symbolism connected to that, it's the seal of the Ethiopian Emperor, right? What does it say, what is the inscript?
It says the Lion of Judah in Amharic. I cannot pronounce it properly. It was reconstructed from a coin, an old Ethiopian coin. It was the face side. On the bottom, where Ansestral is written, there was the quality of the coin, we took it out and used it... I used it because I am so enlighted by the person of Haile Selassie I, for me it represents a lot in my life because I found my enlightenment to do my music and Haile Selassie was there all the time. I'm not a person who believes in symbols a lot, normally I don't use symbols because I don't like this huge business of everything. I prefer the words and do my thing like to present myself like a person first, then you can check who I am inside and what I'm thinking. I prefer to present myself without any kind of symbols, you know. But this time I decided to pay a tribute to the enlightenment in my life, and I asked myself what can I do for this? And I decided to use this symbol again, the Lion of Judah, because this symbol is going through the web and it's everywhere, so... I kind of give thanks to the enlightenment and give continuity to the work of Haile Selassie I, for everyone who is seeking for something.
Is there going to be a release party of some sort?
Yes, the 5th in Madrid and on the 26th of March there is a real release party with my group here in Teneriffa, we are going to have a spiritual session.
How is the Reggae scene there anyway?
The local scene is pretty good, it's huge right now, growing stronger everyday. With modern technology everything is interconnected, so people here can log in and see what's happening around the world. It's also tiny, because the islands are tiny, so it's not so many people, but the people who are here are more concerned about what is the new releases. And the selectors are always up to date, playing the latest songs so... it's nice! It's tiny but healthy. (laughs)
What does a typical day look like for you?
I live in Bajamar, it's a place close to the ocean, so I open the window and I can see the ocean. It depends, sometimes my day starts like I wake up early, well not too early, but not too late, and maybe go for a walk with my dog, maybe go surfing if the waves are good. Then I do some work in my studio, then do some sports again, then rehearse, practice, sing, this is the life here. It's so cool because we are living close to nature, I don't go to the city too much because I love nature. I like to stay outside, because with internet you can do everything in your house, you can go online and work there and it's pretty easy. I'm so connected to the world, as we are right now, so I combine my work with some activities like sports all the time.
So music is your main occupation?
Right now yes, but sometimes I have to do some other works too, that's how it is.
You did a tour with iLLBiLLY HiTEC in 2013, are you still in contact?
Yes of course. I chat with Alex and Longfingah all the time. They are very nice people, we had a lot of fun. For me it was the first big tour, so it was great, we did like 28 shows all over, so when I came back home I was giving thanks. It was really a great time.
When are you coming back here?
Right now I have another booking agency, they are trying their best to get some bookings, so I hope to have some dates soon. They are from Cologne, so I should be back soon (laughs). For me that would be nice, because since my first album I met a lot of friends there so it's kind of... I'm looking forward to come back!
We are waiting for you! Do you want to share a final message with us?
Be clear of mind, be sure of yourself, don't follow egos and tricky things, be honest all the time and fill your mind with positive thoughts and love.
Thank you so much!
You are welcome.