Million Stylez ADD

Interview with Million Stylez

10/28/2015 by Gardy Stein

Interview with Million Stylez

Actors sometimes struggle with a role played so well that it sticks to them like a second skin and they are remembered for it only. Anthony Hopkins is a case in point, who will forever incorporate the evil Hannibal Lecter. Or Julia Roberts – honestly, which movie but Pretty Woman comes to your mind thinking of her? In music, this is bound to happen as well. Kenshin Iryo aka Million Stylez stepped into the international limelight with the Dancehall track Miss Fatty in 2006, and few are those who know that the singer is a conscious Reggae artist as well. However, this conception is about to change. Reggaeville spoke to the reflective young man who has just released his first full album Revelation Time, a wonderful evidence of his versatility:

Congrats on your new album. How was the release party on October 17th in Stockholm?

It was ram jam, packed! There was a very mixed crowd. I was surprised that people reacted in that way. It was a young crowd, but they really liked the Reggae songs, the Roots songs, the conscious lyrics... and I was surprised, because the album was only released the day before. In Sweden, everybody is listening to Spotify, so you can log in and - boom - right away listen to the music. People are so comfortable here, they stop buying MP3s, you know, so it's just Spotify. And I asked the crowd if they have heard the album, and I think more than half of them started to cheer. That was surprising to see, it was a good vibe.

How long did you work on it?
I really took my time with it. My last album was 5 years ago, but I released an EP in between, so... I would have to say, it took me at least 3 to 4 years.

And how did you come up with the name, Revelation Time? What do you want to reveal?
Well, it's not me trying to reveal something with my album, it's just like... I feel that's the time! And the last book in the bible is called Revelation, it talks about how it will look in these days and it explains perfectly what's going on right now and what has been going on and what will happen. So, I really feel that we are in that time and it's not only me, it's like everybody who studies that last book really can agree with that. So that's what Reggae artists and Rasta artists have been singing about from the 70ies, so... I think it's a fitting name. When I was thinking about a title, that was the only thing that came to my mind. Same thing with the cover, that was my idea as well, the only picture I saw in my mind. And when I was in Costa Rica, a designer helped me to come up with that because I cannot do that myself, you know. I'm just a visionary, I come with a vision. Same thing with the music, when I hear a riddim, the lyrics are already there, the melodies are already there. I just add what is missing...

I like the diversity on the album, the different styles from Roots to Steppas to Dub - it's all there!
I have to try to live up to my name (laughs).

And those great features! How did you get people like Peetah Morgan or Bounty Killer?
It's been different people, friends as a matter of fact, in the business, that I got to know in my career. Peetah Morgan, for instance, he was on tour with a friend of mine, JP from Special Delivery. They had a show here in Stockholm, so I went to the show and I told him: "I wanna do a song with you!". We went to the studio the day after and recorded it all on the same day. So, it's all about me trying to catch the opportunity! Same thing with Lutan Fyah, he was here for a show on a European tour. With Bounty Killer, it was from a distance, he recorded his part in Jamaica and I recorded my part here. Mr. Williamz now, I invited him over and he stayed at my house for a couple of days, so we were working on different songs. We were able to take our time and sit down and reason and hold a vibes. Family vibes, you know!

Can you tell us something about the project Bassic Division who did the track for the Bounty Killer feature?
The man behind it is called Nils Posse. He's from Sweden as well, the founder of KBC Music, and he's the man I used to work with from the very begining. And actually he was there for my first release, I think it was '98 or '99, it was a riddim called Toxic. We went to Jamaica to record Beenie Man and Merciless and Wayne Marshall, different different artists, so... they helped me to put my name out there on the map from the beginning, cause I got the opportunity to be on the same riddim alongside those big names. So when people listened and to all these tracks, they were like "Yeah, Million Stylez is on all these riddims, we should check him out!" (laughs). So that's the beginning. But then we stopped working and I founded Adonai Music, and that's the funny part... this is the first collaboration with him for like... I don't know... 10 years or so. So we found back each other, on a mutual level, a humble vibes, which is really nice. So this song, it's a killer!

How is the Reggae-scene in Sweden anyway? Is it small enough that you know each other?
Right now it's growing, I think it's bigger than ever. When we say Swedish Reggae, we are talking about Reggae in Swedish. The Swedish massive over here, they don't really put me in the same category as the artists who sing in Swedish. There's a lot of people who don't even know that I'm from here! (laughs) I mean, the media is not really talking about me that much because I'm an independent artist, plus I don't sing in Swedish. A lot of people still think that I come from outside, Jamaica, Amerika, UK maybe.. but it's fun, I like to surprise people, you know. But it's definitely growing, and I know all of them. There are a lot of talented people, a lot of producers and artists coming with a lot of great songs nowadays. That's great to see.

And how about the Sound Systems?
With the Sound Systems, they used to be more active before, like 10, 15 years ago. But then with the electronic music... it came and took over everything, so now it's just House music, House music. From where you don't find House music, you hear more House music (laughs). But it's coming back now and the thing is, the people, the people here really love Reggae music, they really listen to Reggae music, on Spotify or whereever. I mean, right now you can get a song out and it just goes viral through the internet, so it's not like before when you needed a contract and a label and a manager, all these things... Nowadays if you can go independet, you should do it, just like I.

Sweden must be very multi-cultural, right?
All over Sweden we have a lot of immigrants, a lot of cultures. This is how I grew up, you know, in a suburb here in Stockholm called Sollentuna. I just grew up with a lot of influences from Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean, Latin America... so when I started to hear Reggae and Dancehall music it just caught me, I was like 'This is me, I love this!'  

Are you affected by the refugee crisis as well? How is the situation, do you have a lot of people coming in from Syria?
Yes, a lot. Sweden is welcoming nuff a dem. The thing is, right about now I don't really listen to the news and the radio and stuff, but I hear what's going on of course, it is hard not to. But right now they try to handle the situation at the Migration, so it's really hectic there, I know what's going on. What people are doing now, they gather clothes and quilts and different things, so... I went down to my basement and just brought it out, everything I'm not using. And I think most people should. We have too much of everything! So we just have to share. Some people don't have nothing, that's the only thing what we can do, gather clothes and stuff for them. Otherwise it's really hard to reach out to these people, I mean what should you do? You're not allowed in the houses. I try to pray for them as well, because it's a spiritual power that helps to guide them, protect them in a way... it's an invisible power as well, it's not just money and roof and shelter, because these shelters can still blow up. So what I can do is trying to give them spiritual protection and also talk about them in my music and make people aware of what's going on. So you don't only think about yourself, because the ego and ego-centric ideas and thoughts is something that's really been promoted nowadays. Like the media, they say "You are really worth it, you deserve to buy this for yourself!" and all these things. Me, I don't really follow that, I don't really promote that. I'm more about unity and togetherness and love, that is my thing and that should be more people's thing.

Maybe that's because you've been travelling a lot during the last three years and these experiences make you grow a lot.
Well, it's been ten years! (laughs) I've been touring every continent, I can't really mention all the countries. I've been to Germany a lot, I think I've done more than 300 shows in Germany. They really love my music and I give thanks for that, really and truly. Apart from that, I've been around in Europe, Switzerland, France, Italy, Finland, Denmark and of course Sweden. And outside of Europe, I've been to Africa, Jamaica, the French Caribbean, Asia tour, Australia, New Zealand... so every corner of the world. But it's the music, it's not me personally they want. It's the power of the music. If people choose to talk about love and positivity and you spread the message of Jah, it's like... Jah will just push you and say, you need to go there and do this. And then if you follow that, if you do it for the right cause, Jah will show you to other places. I know it's not because of me, so it's a higher power that's really been helping me, pushing me.

And what made you stay in Costa Rica? I read that you spent a few months there.
Well, I'm spending half of the year there every year. It's a family thing. My woman is from there and my child is there, so that's... I have a life there and a lot of friends. It's just one of these places that I went to, I was booked and I stayed there for a week, and I fell in love with the country! And I came back every year after that, staying a little longer. It's a beautiful place, I really recommend it.

What about Japan and France? Your parents are from there, right, do you still have connections?
Yes, my father is Japanese, my mother is French, I've been born and raised in Sweden surrounded by people from all over the world, so it's inter- and outernational, a universal vibe. I don't really say that I'm this or that, because even when I was growing up, I didn't know... other people said I'm Swedish or I'm Turkish or I'm English, and I couldn't say that. But I wasn't trying to. Of course, as a child you want to say I'm this or I'm that, you want to be like everybody else, but after a while I was like no, this is just me. So I just represent the work, because, what I believe, we all come from the same parents. And then we spread all over the world, so just what Reggae music talks about, one family, one blood, one love. And that's why I feel Reggae music is the perfect music for me now, that's why I do Reggae music.

You do a lot! Apart from the album you stay active too, like you just released a single on the Radykaly riddim with Rebellious...
I was staying even more active before when I used to have a studio. I lost the studio, that's a long story again, but... a lot of these songs which are released this year, I recorded years ago! Like this song with Sniggy, Head Concussion Records, called Never You Worry, this song is six years old! It came out this year and it is so relevant still. And people love it and are like "Yo, this new song!" And I'm like, can I really call it new? Well, I guess as long as it's new for somebody's ears it's new... it's fresh!

What is planned for the near future, will we see you on tour?
I have a tour with Gappy Ranks, we're heading out at the end of November, we'll be touring Europe. Most of the times I post everything on my Facebook, so just follow that.

Any other projects you want to talk about or let people know?
One thing I want people to know is that this album, I never did this for myself, as being something I have to do as an artist. Because for me, my spiritual self comes before my musical self and me as an artist, as Million Stylez or whatever people want to call me. So, this for me was like a dedication to Jah, to the Almighty who made everything possible, who created everything. And Reggae music means the King's music, so this is just like a dedication, you know, so everything from the cover to the music is in line with that. A lot of people only know me as the artist behind Miss Fatty, and that alone. They look at me and say "Ah Miss Fatty!", and they don't even say Million Stylez, because Miss Fatty is bigger than Million Stylez. So, that's why I wanted to do a Reggae Album because this is what I stand for now, more than before, because almost ten years passed, you know. So, of course you grow as an artist and as a person. This is something I can stand for 100%, no major label behind, it's just me doing positive music, quality music with heart and soul. Yeah, people seem to like it so... it's a blessing!

Thank you so much!