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Interview: ReggaeChapter speaks to PROTOJE

Rising Jamaican artist PROTOJE will be hitting the UK this month for his first ever tour of the country.

With his third album Ancient Future going stratospheric this year, a lot of material from the new record will be aired on the seven-date tour. 

This week PROTOJE launched the fifth official video from his third album, “Criminal”, featured above. caught up with the "Who Knows" singer to find out more about the upcoming live shows.

What can fans expect from the tour?

It’s my first headline tour, my first tour playing around the UK, so it’s just about educating the people on my music from this album and also giving them a feel of what I did for my two albums before. I’ve done two shows in the UK ever, so I’ve never really even toured with another band there or anything, It’s my first tour of the UK as a whole.

What’s the concept behind Ancient Future?

It was just really reinterpreting the music I liked when I was growing up, but also dating it because I listen to a lot of contemporary stuff whether hip hop, rock or whatever and just really merging them together like a new song. 

Can you tell me a bit about the INDIGGNATION BAND?

Yes, I put it together. The whole purpose of the band is to tour with me. So it’s not a separate unit. I went out and just was watching live shows in Jamaica, seeing people playing, just really trying to find who I think I would vibe with and gradually put it all together one by one. We’ve been rehearsing together for years so it’s very natural. We’ve done over 60 shows already this year alone, so we’ve been really a seasoned band, really in a comfort zone right now.

Is it the same musicians on tour as it was in the studio?

Some of them, but I used musicians from both eras from the 1980s. I used Robbie from SLY AND ROBBIE who plays on it; lots of legends play on it. Some were from my era and then some from my band.

There’s been more of a live band scene coming out of Jamaica in recent years. Is that appetite coming out of Jamaica or from international demand?

I think it’s an appetite of the artists that are coming out right now. That’s how we like to play music, that’s all it’s got to do with. I didn’t like to go on tracks, I didn’t like to fly in and play with people I didn’t know, so I just played with who I know and it just resonated with people. I don’t think it’s been a change of what people like, it’s just been a change in what we’re deciding to put out. 

There seems to be a resurgence in live Jamaican music with more artists going on tour in the UK. A few years ago that wasn’t really the case, what’s that down to?

It’s been brewing in Jamaica for the past four or five years, it’s just kind of showing its head right now. What happens is that every time someone, especially now where most of these artists kind of have a relationship that’s not too far, like you see CHRONIXX come and do his headline show, it works out. Then I come and do mine, it works out. And then somebody else will come because people say okay this is working. It gives promoters more confidence, it makes the audience know about more artists, because if you come to my show you’re probably going to learn about two more artists you didn’t know about. And it keeps the cycle going. 

What’s your typical recording process when you’re in the studio?

For my last record I wrote most of it before I started to record. I didn’t go in and record anything basically until I was done writing most of the album. I’m not an artist that’s in the studio all year round, I just take one or two months and go studio and do that, then not in studio for the rest of the year. That’s how I’ve kind of worked, but we’ll see if that changes as I go forward. When I’m in studio it’s just usually me and my producer, really quiet and simple, not lots of people. Only at the end of the album I start to invite people in when I’m just finishing up. 

Do you have a great drive to produce other artists?

I’ve already produced a song for my new artist I’m working with. I also just did two songs for AGENT SASCO, ASSASSIN’s album and yeah I love producing. It’s fun actually being on the other side, I like doing it in the studio, it’s way more chilled. I like being on the other side because you’re controlling what’s happening and crafting the song. I like making beats. I use the MPC Studio [Akai’s Music Production Controller] a lot, I like to travel everywhere with it, that’s my favourite piece of equipment I would say.

How are you going to follow the Ancient Future record?

Right now I’m just promoting this album, there’s so many more songs that I hear can get a lot of potential. I’m not rushing to put out another record right now, I’m just focussing on getting this record bigger and bigger, and keeping it to grow. Sometime after that then I will start to work on a follow-up to this album.

The tour, which also features HOLLIE COOK at all the shows expect Manchester, includes the following dates: