Irie Souljah ADD

Interview with Irie Souljah

11/24/2015 by Gardy Stein

Interview with Irie Souljah

While his single Learn & Grow continues its triumphant march through speakers and webs world wide, Josep Jordi Grau Saula aka Irie Souljah is already busy shooting the next one - his star is definitely on the rise! Upon his arrival in Jamaica last year, he managed to mingle with the inner core of the island's vibrant music scene in no time. Reggaeville spoke to the young Catalanian about his fruitful first year in Jamdung (the result of which is his debut album Immigrant), the concept behind it and future visions:

Blessed Greetings, Irie Souljah! First of all, may I ask if you have German ancestors? Grau sounds like a German name.
No, I don't think so. Grau is a Catalan name still, we have a lot of people called Grau.

You're in Jamaica since February 2014, having settled in Kingston. How does the city treat you? Are there any hotspots you can suggest for people who come to visit?
I'm very well received here, it's like… I just find love and good reception everywhere I go. Kingston is a very active city, so you have nuff spots, nuff things to do... I would suggest the Dub Club up on Jacks Hill, definitely. And Cane River, that's were Bob Marley and him bredrin did go bathe and wash dem Dreads. (laughs)

Now turning to your album... it's been recorded entirely in Jamaica, right?
Yes, completely. But it was mixed in Barcelona and mastered in Boston. Each song is an original production, all riddims were made only for the album.

Which musicians did you work with?
Three tunes it's my band who play it, the Black Army Band. Then I was supported by Sly & Robbie, Flabba Holt and Robbie Lynn. I also had a special collaboration with Lee Jaffe... he played the harmonica on Bob Marley's Rebel Music, and now he played it on my song Elevate Your Thoughts as well. That's the song on which Style Scott played, too.

How did his death affect the recordings?
Well, we finished before he died. I have more recordings from him, I will put them in my albums in the future, a tribute to him.

Apart from the great musicians, you also have great features. How did you connect with Jesse Royal and Kabaka Pyramid?
With them it was a natural vibe. From when I reached Jamaica, I met some musicians from the movement, like Pentateuch and Jah9 and them, and they started to introduce me to others, and one of the first was Jesse Royal. We got to know each other, and then I worked with a company called Nice Times Productions, and it's them who suggested to do a collaboration with Jesse. And I said "Of course, I love Jesse, just set it up!" And that's what they did... so we made it possible. This tune was my first collaboration with a Jamaican artist ever. And with Kabaka now, it's a natural connection me and him had the first time we see each other. We met at Rototom and we started to build up some vibes, and when I came to Jamaica, he invited me to his studio. He has a studio named Bebble Rock Studio, so I linked him almost every week. I went there, we built riddims, I played on some of his productions... we did some works together. One day I went to the studio and he was building a beat, drum pattern and thing. And he said "Yo Irie, come and play some chords pon di piano!" And I did, and then I just started to sing: "And this a wan ya fi mi daughter, fi my baby..." (sings) While I was singing that, he just started to do some DJing and we put some more work on the production, voiced the tune, and after two days we had a tune, we had a song. So I told him I want this on my album, cause it's a natural vibe.

It's a beautiful tune, it's one of my favourites... Do you have a favourite on the album?
Now, let me tell you one thing. If none of the tracks would be favourite to me, none of them would be on the album. But if I have to choose one, I'd choose Who Is The Immigrant, the title track, because of the whole situation, because of my situation. It's a very important issue around the world right now and people have to know that.

Is this the song you are shooting a video for today?
Yes, I'm at the airport, shooting the video right now. I just interrupted to do this interview (laughs). It will be out within the next two months.

As you say, the immigration topic is hot worldwide. If you could give an advice to the state leaders, what would it be?
What I want say to the people who want to immigrate and go to a different country is, try to do it right, try to work with the government as good as possible. No one likes the immigration process, but you have to look at it with a smile, don't get frustrated, don't give up! As for the governments, make it as easy as possible or people to come!

On your homepage it says that your album is dedicated to people who have to leave their country to find a better life, be it economically or spiritually. Can you explain that?
You see, you have a lot of people who want to leave their country and they have their reasons. The majority of people who come to Europe come for economical reasons. And then you have people like me, people who have a regular life economically in their country, not too bad, you know, balanced. But then again, the spiritual part of life is... you want to change it, because in Spain and other countries in Europe you don't have so many possibilities to live the way you want, to grow. So you want to go somewhere else to learn. The world is so big, and you have so many possibilities to go to other places. Just as Bob Marley said, everybody has the right to choose his own destiny.

Do you think of Jamaica as a permanent home, then?
You never know how life go. But I'm good in Jamaica, I feel comfortable, and my music... to live in Jamaica, it helps my music, it helps my soul to grow and it helps myself to grow, but I don't know. I can't promise to live here all my life!

But you promise to come back to Europe on tour, right?
Yes, I'm coming back in March to do a tour with the Black Army Band. Before that, I will have some shows in Jamaica in January to introduce my music there. I feel well prepared after my summer tour with Cocoa Tea. To be on tour with him was a great experience, I learned a lot about how he prepared himself for every show. We reasoned about his career and the experience he got through all these years performing. It was my first tour in Europe, my first tour in my life with one of the greatest legends in Reggae music - for me it was like a dream fulfilled and a great experience to learn and to introduce myself to the European crowd. It definitely was one of the best experiences in my life!

Do you pursue any projects apart from music? What are your plans?
Actually, everything is related to my music (laughs). I work for other artists sometimes, for other bands, like the other day Kabaka wanted some harmonies, so I put some on his song. I work with a lot of artists. And I'm a producer as well, so I want to set up a label and a studio in Jamaica. It's not official yet, but the name will be Zion Children.

Apart from that, I plan to do build up a farm. It's a thing long time de pon me mind because Babylon control certain things like food, medicine and gasoline and so on. We depend on them, nuff people have to go to the supermarket to get food. So, the food which comes from the trees and from the bush, people have to go supermarket to get it and pay double and triple, pay for things that actually grow for free. What I like to do is start farming and provide for the community, for the people dem, because food is supposed to be free for everyone. Food is one of the most necessary things to survive, like water. I think water and food must be free for everyone. That's why I want to do farming, and I want to do it organic, over at Portland. Some of my bredrin started farming already, and I want to join them, because we basically have the same mentality in terms of food and sharing with the needy. So I will do that. I can't do music only, music is just a tool to achieve the aim, it's not the final destination. It's the vehicle to reach our destination which is to burn down Babylon to ashes and build up a different life for everyone. Food, water, shelter and clothes must come first because they are necessary things to survive. So, I will just continue to learn and grow, continue doing good music and deliver the best music possible, grow as much as possible.

Learn and grow – perfect closing words, thank you so much. We won't keep you any longer from finishing your video shoot!