(P) & ©

Small Axe 2006

 

Photo: © Soundproof Productions

How did you become a singer?

"Music as always been in my home, I used

To listen to a lot of old R&B stuff, Al Green,

Impressions, and with the reggae stuff. It was

Bob Marley, The Heptones, Burning Spear.

I grew up on that kind of music, it inspired me".

That makes a lot of sense. You have a very

Soulful voice. So was it the sound system,

Where you first started to sing.

"Well the whole rising of Mark Wonder, I wanted

to be a jockey, I used to be going around to the

stables, moving around with trainers and jockeys.

At that time, they opened a riding school in Jamaica.

I enrolled in the Jockey school, but unfortunately there

was a lot of things that I needed that I didn't have, like

A school leaving certificate, because I dropped out of

School. So a lot of things went wrong, eventually it

Was the music that I went to. I started out on a small

Sound system, then moved onto Black Scorpio."

 

So Big Jack Scorpio was your first connection with the

Sound system business.

"My first connection with sound system, and with Black

Star also, and they were also the first people I did my first

Set of recordings for"

When was that?

Mikey Melody

"Ok, I started recording professionally around 1988, I was

a very young chap at the time. Not knowing much about the

business. But enough people encourage me to pursue this

vibration. So after taking advice from friends, I was introduced

to Black Scorpio by Mikey Melody. We were living in the same

community. I started recording at a tender age, I was a teenager

at the time. I started recording very young."

Can you remember your first single?

"My first single was called 'Caution' and was produced by Black

Scorpio, but before that I did two songs and were released on

Compilations by the same producer, they were 'Love Is What You

Want' and 'Don't Pressure Me'.

Did you get on well with Big Jack? Was it a good experience?

"Yes, yes, I think it was. When you start in this business, you have no one to direct you. You know nothing about the business, so you need the experience. It was a learning experience. You are working with a big producer and end up working with some of the big names in the business. So it was a good time."

Jack Scorpio as had some good success over the years. General Trees, in particular. Is he still very active today?

 

Jack Scorpio and General Trees - Rockers Awards 1986

© Photo by Beth Kingston

"Yes. I'm not far from him at this very moment. The studio is very close. Scorpio is from the old School, and he is used to a certain level of things Yu know. But he just did a tour in Europe. "

I think the people want and need to see the traditional sound system. Where You have singers and deejays all working together. Did you work with anyone else during the late eighties, early nineties?

"After a while the relationship between artist and producer cools a little. So I did some recording for Blue Mountain, but I was not the kind of artist Who would go running around working for all different producers. I was sticking with one producer. Building a foundation. "

Was this around the time of the emergence of Garnett Silk and Luciano. Did they inspire you On a bit more?

"Well, during that period of time I was just getting into it, was trying to find a sound for Mark Wonder. You understand me? A lot of the producers were not making rhythms and productions that inspired me. A lot of them were into this Indian stuff. When people like Garnett Silk and Luciano came along - it went back to the original sound. I was a young Rastafarian at the time, and it brought a certain kind of vibe. During that period I did an album for a company in Holland called Zola and Zola".

That is a very hard album to find.

"A lot of things went wrong at the time."

Who produced the Zola and Zola album?

"Well it was produced by a Jamaican named KC White. I never got to meet Zola and Zola. I was introduced to him (KC White) one afternoon,and he heard me sing, and I voiced one song, and he wanted another one. And from there, he said, bwoy…"

What year did that album come out?

"1996."

This is what is interesting, when people like Garnett Silk and Luciano Broke through, but they looked isolated, with very few artists like them Around at the time. A bit like Admiral Tebbit, ten years before them. But currently you are there and so many other singers are also around. And that's good to see, its looks like you are part of a much bigger movement.

"There was always artists there, but there is a lot of politics involved in the music business in Jamaica. So it looks like….You are only hearing one set of people, and you are wondering what happened…Where are the other people."

This is what I mean, if you was there, and you was, what happened!?

"At that time, I wasn't working with anyone specifically. You have to be working with top producers. I never got the chance, so you have to survive, make a music here and there."

So when it came to your next album 'Jeremiah' which is a classic set by any standard. Why do you think that album - never broke through?

"Well at the time, I had just started working with this new producer whois now my manager Milton Moore - Soundproof Productions. He liked my music So he said lets do music, lets go into the studio. And that is a thing that I like to do, work in the studio and make songs. So when it was released, not having the links to the outside world, the album suffered."

Although having said that, the Soundproof website is a very good one,A lot of bigger labels don't have anything like that. Soundproof seems very organised.

"Its been a long hard drive for me, the problem comes from trying to be different"! When you are trying to be different its not easy.. We are just trying to do something different again. The music industry is like a fashion show now. Or a circus, you understand me? And I don't want to be part of that!"

Admiral Tebbit - Photo: John Skomdahl

 

You don't need to be, things are changing and you are part of that change. Last year you did a tour of Europe with Admiral Tebbit, Utan Green and Elijah Prophet - are there any more plans like that?

"We are trying our best to get something going, to get the machinery set up for things to work."

The new album 'Break The Ice' another fantastic set.

"Well I give thanks for that, the music is its how I think, its what I believe that is my livity. It’s the way I see the world."

Both album have got so many great songs on them, is there any that are very special to you?

"OK, Jeremiah, the title track from the second album, that track is…its just a very special vibration from time. "

Both the albums have a very spiritual feel to them. And that track is a very good example of that feeling.

"We have to keep that vibe. Now days, to much of reggae music is like pop music, yu know. I want to stick to the roots. Because that is what reggae music is all about. People like me, who are deep within the roots who have a spiritual sense, they haven't had much of a look in, because we are not into certain things. The industry today is like a circus. We are not into those kind of things."

Was there a big difference between the musicians who played on 'Jerimiah' and 'Break The Ice'?

"Over the years we have worked with some of the best people around,like Sly and Robbie and The Firehouse Crew. And there are engineers like Barry O Hare and Stephen Stanley working with us.

Have you been working on anything new with Milton Moore?

"We are always working, to keep the thing going. The Addis People in Switzerland have some music with me, and then there is Al Fa Ta An in Jamaica. Who are very close friends of mine. Acoustic Vibes are another company. I just want to keep producing the kind of music want to hear."

What are the plans for this, you mentioned Addis in Switzerland, will you be doing any more tours of Europe?

"Hopefully yes, we want to get out there and promote the album. But things need to co-ordinated and so on. It takes special promotion and things like that. I just don't want to run out there like a wandering sheep.We are working carefully on some plans."

How about America?

"Presently there seems to be some nice vibes coming from California .Seem to be making a little inroad there. We have just hooked up with Someone from that side, something for the future. Everything is like a time process thing now."

They will be pleased with what they will hear.

"For me that is where reggae should be, I don't know where some people are at, at the moment. They are the ones at the forefront, and what they presenting is not the true pattern or authentic vibration of what reggae music is. I am coming from the old school, and am I trying to preserve that rich heritage., and culture and roots of reggae music."

You are doing that, and in a great way!

"Well the industry is so mixed up these days, to many people are into itlike a hustle, and I am not into that hustling thing. I don't see myself as that kind of artist. Its been pretty hard."

Give thanks to Rastafari Blessed Love.

www.markwonder.com