Torch ADD

Interview with Torch in Kingston, Jamaica

11/11/2015 by Gardy Stein

Interview with Torch in Kingston, Jamaica

Trench Town, Kingston - March 7th 2015! The taxi driver slowly passes Collie Smith Drive and comes to a stop in the hot Jamaican midday sun. It's a bit surreal that we are finally here, at this historical place. I mean, Trench Town!!! Following the invitation of Kevin Campbell aka Torch, we meet up at the Police Station and walk the little distance to his home. People greet us respectfully, and a bit later we sit under a mango tree to talk about his hood, his plans and his EP entitled Self Reclaimed. Reggaeville inna yaad!

Yes Torch! We are right here in your hood. How long have you been living here?
I live here all my live, 34 years. Born and raised right in dis house ova de so.

So how does your family life get along with your career? Do you find ways to combine everything?
Yes, I have to find time still. My career haffi separate from my private life. Me is a single father and me haffi tek care of my youth dem and mek sure she get up ina di morning and go to school and everything. Me still haffi do that, but me haffi find time to do me music, so me is a person like ina di late night me haffi get up and answer some messages and all a dat. I still have to go out and do the work... so me haffi go out when people call. Me haffi find a balance! And when I'm on tour, family members tek care and mek sure everything is all right.

Nice. Tell us something about your EP Self Reclaimed.
Now me EP... it's like a reflection on me in a sense. You know, I try to show di people dem what dem can expect from Torch because I don't only bring Roots and Culture, but me have some different styles in me, I'm multitalented so me want people fi see se I don't just go hardcore. Sometime me sing and me get soft wid di ladies dem and... you know... (laughs). So I blaze di fire and chant where me see fit, you know... and me find some nice melodies too ina R & B, so it's just really showing people wha Torch can do.

There is a Bugle feature on the EP, Fiya Man A Bun… how did this collaboration come to pass?
Me and Bugle now, we met up on Cross Country last year, so when me see di Fiya Man me really like him spirit. I'm all about positiveness, and when I come off stage, me and him hold a likkle alone time wid some friends, and him a pass me and call me and se "Youth, you have dis presence, me like your energy pon stage and me wan you fi continue." An him se stand up beside me for a likkle while. And I was there chilling, and normally I'm not a person we me say "Yo, give me your number!" and ting, but there me just felt like fi reach out and say "Probably there is going to be a time when I need your help." and him say "In what way?" and me say "A collab, but I don't have a riddim yet." And then him say "Definitely, give me a call!" and he gave him number to me so we kept the link and bless him up and support him shows and ting, we keep the connection. And then I came across this riddim when I came off tour, when I did Reggae Jam last year, and I got this riddim from Weedy G, Multe was the first who made me listen to it. And him send it over and I hear it and I was like "Wooooi this riddim is wicked, I'm gonna call Bugle for this." And I was doing my EP and I call him up and say "Yo Bugle, what you think of it?" And I made him listen and he liked it and so me just voice the idea and sent him and that was it. Magic work!

You have another collaboration, Perfect Peace.
That's actually a collab me and Dizzy D did. He brought the idea to me and we worked it out together. Now this song is a song in the streets where you are trying to find that perfect peace. And we destined for others to find it also. The way of life that you live and you live free without crime and violence and all that hustle and bustle of life, just give thanks fi life and live in unity and love. You naa go find perfect peace inna vanity and material things, so get rid of all a di bad things ina your life, heartache and pain, you cut that out and you will find perfect peace. So, that's a next explosion.

Other songs on the EP are Africa Calling and Evilous…
Africa is the motherland. I might not live in Africa, but I don't just address things in Jamaica only. I'm an artist, I sing for the world. So if I go somewhere and I see something whe wrong I try fi address it. I haven't been to Africa, but I've been watching a lot of things pon di Internet. This song is calling everybody to look towards Africa. They might send a lot of negative messages about Africa and mek a lot of people fraid fi go de. Me want everybody fi go a Mama Africa and contribute, de so whe life start.
Evilous, it's on the Four Season Riddim from di Fireman-Crew. This track now is to remind people of di times we livin in. You have good people around whe already aware and try fi change a ting and spread di love. But sometimes, neva mek dis shatter your mind, there is wickedness out de come in many form, and dem smile with you and don't want di love a spread. In the media dem show crime and violence and dem tings, it naa nice pon di news. But you have good things too! You have youth gather round here every day and play football and holding a vibe, why not come tell some news about that? You have some youths ova de so who fence off some land and start di likkle agriculture and dem ting, why dem don't come talk some news about?

What do you see as the most challenging issues in Jamaica right now?
Main issue what we have round here is our system. For one, the system is full of a lot of trickster who call themselves politicians. This country cannot better until di economy rise. So you see, as long as many people go to them Western Union and dem get money from overseas, dem go like "Di money nuff!" but dem no realise se each time di Dollar decrease, di country decrease in value. Government naa fight fi dem tings de. Dem just try fi scrape whe dem can scrape and it's just a new way whe dem come in. Everybody locked in into social media, so everybody is doing the WhatsApp and the Facebook and Twitter while dem a rob and thief everything. By the time you find out what really happen in your country, dem do a lot of foolishness whe cyaan change. And then dem tell a lot a story cause many a we is busy an watch wha dem a do. Now dem create dis thing whe dem call poverty, cause poverty is an illusion. Dem se it all ova di world, but it's an illusion. You know why poverty is? Because selfishness. If we di learn fi share and give to one another, we break the barriers of poverty long time. But a man have a million and you a broke, and him naa even give you a dollar, that's why a man ova de so dem poor. But it is a way also fi keep dung people so you can always de ova I and me can always be ova you so long as me have some money ova you, you haffi come to me. And some man like to be called Dada and all sort a tings, so dem use that. Now dem things de break dung the system. And then, where poverty lies and di people dem hungry, all you need is a manipulator fi come whe can pinch dem and se do this and dem do anything for you. Now politicians have been doing this for years, a lot of them tings, so it spill over into so many years of we killing one another and di youths dem growing up and see dem tings, so it not only becomes a turf war but a war of revenge... You kill my family, you kill my bredda, so you haffi go dead back. So it spill into a ting whe dem cyaan control.

Now, what we try to do in music now, as in me and many others like you see Kabaka, me rate dis youth, me like Bugle too, always sing positive music and always sing the right. Whether or not you like it, him sing di right thing. It is either fi you fi tek it or leave it. Cause if you wan cuss, we naa really care cause hear wha appen, we cyaan really partial when it comes to di truth. We haffi tell it like it is, the tings dem it might be hard because media might put it different too. When we sing dem tings and sing songs and it really reflect dem lifestyle and it burn so much, dem don't want fi hear it. Dem don't want your music fi play, dem don't want your voice fi be heard cause imagine if you can bring across the truth to the people when everybody listen to your music and mean se you can start change minds and the way how people dem think. Dem no want that because this system was created many years and manipulating and deceiving the people you cyaan mek di truth be told, you see me? So all a dem tings de… and dem bring a lot of different tings cause if you ever know di people dem create di separation a coloured people, create dis big thing call racism, dem haffi sit down and talk bout that. Cause this is a ting whe divide and conquer, and dem haffi fight ova who is this an who is dat, none of them have business bout that, dem only one purpose is power and to control di world. While you busy an fight ova everything and you kill yourself ova all sort a tings, dem busy fi sit dung and sip champagne together an laugh at you.

I like that you stay here in your community and try to develop things. So you don't pack up and run and build a house on a hill or go foreign like many artists do.
Yes, because... hear ya now. See dis likkle youth de, him always ina me video caa him a great dancer. But di system mek it dat him cyaan pay him education. Like you reach a certain level and cyaan pay. Youth like him have a brain, but him cyaan finish school and cyaan find work because wha... him cyaan pay fi him education cause him haffi pay rent, it's him and him bredda alone. But still he is a great dancer! If you look at Gal Inna Summer, him ina it. Him ina Good Reggae Music, him did a wheel him bicycle and run and skip pon di road, so me try and put him ina everything because wha, him have a talent so me want people fi see him! So, at the end a di day me cyaan give him some money all di while, but at least me can help fi make people see him talent! Youth like ova there, we grow up together so me cyaan run an lef di people dem whe you love, no! Me naa se me wouldn't like fi own a house pon di hill, but me cyaan own it without helping a couple more youths dem.

A few months ago you posted a little "behind the scenes" film for the video shoot of Rebel, and it was shot right here in Trench Town? Is it important for you to feature this area? I mean, you could have gone to the beach or wherever.
Yes, it is important to always feature me town. If you notice, me videos always have a piece of Trench Town in it. It is a rich heritage and so I stand and I represent for my community. Me hold di flag high, so it's like a flag-bearer or ambassador for my community. I neva leave me people out. Just like Bob Marley, him neva leave di people out, cause him was one a di person whe in fact when it was the conflict between PNP and JLP in town, and him was di person fi really call and crush di whole ting. So I want to build that strong presence and a force like that within the community, be a pillar for di youth dem and give back to di youths dem, so like how me grow up me can help some others to grow and reach dem full potential. You have a lot of talent in Trench Town, DJs, singers and so on, you know? I no go be around all di while because me soon get old, so me haffi mek sure me set a future fi di next generation cause me wan see dem grow and prosper.

How about when you do concerts in Jamaica, is it different from shows in Europe?
Well, at shows in Europe, the people require more. Dem naa see you for a long while and you don't really live there. So when you come there, you can't really just give di people a likkle quick dis and you out. Performance haffi be different. You de home and de home is so many artists, when you go a show it's so hard to really present a full set to an audience because you have artist who not even book fi a show him jus come in... So you haffi set a time and it's not even about the hype and being the front person, it's about sharing, cause sharing is caring. And I believe in that. So we just hold a vibes, it's more about holding a vibes in Jamaica. Until you meet a big stage like Rebel Salute or you go a Sumfest, but in time like di normal likkle show like the Reggae Months shows and dem it's a family ting. You know I did the Cross Country fi every single year, and the whole months in February all around in Jamaica.

Talking about Europe... when will we see you there again?
Actually me haffi push up everything. Wid the sole purpose of presenting the EP me haffi mek sure it's out first and then give it a month or two to get warm up to di people, you know... wha me do still is that me neva hold back di production, so me let Weedy G drop di song wid Bugle and mek Dizzy drop Perfect Peace, so at least people can get familiar with a couple a di songs pon di EP. This summer me did a week in Indonesia and a couple of places in Bali, wrapped up a couple a shows here so now I have to plan the next steps. I'm working on an album, it a go come soon.

There is an album planned as well?
Me plan fi di EP first. I don't know the plans of VP when it comes to promotion, but probably dem a go run wid it fi at least a year. But in my book, I really wanna penetrate this EP for six months. I've been working on my album, so me a go drop the EP and then drop the album... now the EP just come out and it run the time it's supposed to run same way, and then the album will come after, because the album is so great, it a go be another experience. And me a go give away the name: it's called The Book Of Love.

Woooi, that's a nice one!
(laughs) Yes, you can expect fi get all di love and all di nurture what you can expect out of a book of love. It will include totally different songs, all new created, there's nothing whe out already or so whe me pull from any other places, it's coming straight outta Di-Mont Cut Productions.

Thanks so much, Torch! We are really looking forward to your works!
(sings) "I, I, I, I stand fi di rights, fi di equal justice…" Dem fi know Torch di Evaburninflame, look out fi di EP and di album. And big up Reggaeville all di while! Rastafari.