Christopher Ellis; carving his own path to success Image

by Federico Di Puma

Working with the Ghetto Youths International imprint, Christopher Ellis is slowly but surely carving his own path to success with every single he releases. With his critical acclaim EP, Better Than Love, winning fans over, we had the opportunity to spend some time with him backstage at the recent staging of Rototom Sunsplash.

JAmusic: Greetings Christopher. When did you arrive? Did you have time to feel the vibes of the Festival?
CE: Greetings! Well yesterday I had to rehearse but I managed to see Shaggy. It would be nice one day to come and stay for the whole Festival and see every show, there’s a lot of artists I’d like to see. And yeah I think this is a great Festival, it’s beautiful and I’m hoping the years to come I’ll working on the Main Stage.

JAmusic: For those who don’t already know can you speak a bit on the story of your introduction to the Ghetto Youths International imprint.

CE: Oh that’s a great story! My dad passed away in London and we went to Jamaica to bury him. Then my family came back to England but I said “I’m not coming to England, I’m staying”, so I remained in Jamaica with my brother-in-law and my brother and we were with Sugar Minott for a while.  After a few months a guy named Coolie said to me “Yow you should be singing for Stephen Marley, he should be producing you! You know what? He is my friend and I’m taking you there now,” so I went in his car and he drove me to 56 Hope Road, Bob Marley Museum. When I reached there Stephen Marley was sitting on a chair with 25 men and women around him and he said “Sit down youth” and the rest is history. Right there it started and the next day we recorded End Of Time, and from there it has been like dream…it’s a story man and it’s great and here I am today!

JAmusic: Talking about the Ghetto Youths Family I remember seeing you in London in 2012 at the Respect Jamaica show (held for the 50th Anniversary of Jamaica Independence edit.) with Wayne Marshall and the whole Marley Family on stage. What was your perception of the stage from stage?

CE: You know why that concert is so special for me? Because it was my hometown. All my friends were there, my family was there so it was a show I was looking forward to very much. And what made it even sweeter was that we did two days, it was a two days show and it was great both times. And all these things I’m doing now, Jr. Gong told me I was going to do it, years ago he said to me “It’s gonna happen! We are gonna tour together, we are gonna go all over the world” and it’s happening: in January I was in New Zealand with him, then we went to England and now I’m steppin’ on my own two feet and steppin’ out there and here we are, one of the biggest festivals in the world.

JAmusic: You’re heading to Japan soon, first time there?

CE: Yes, first time in Japan! I heard my dad speaking about Japan all the time and he said that it’s one of the nicest places on earth. In the 90s I remember him going to Japan regularly with Ninja Man, Tiger and those artists and I used to have a book, the Japan Splash, where all the words were Japanese but I could see pictures of my dad, can’t read it though (Laughs). So its great for me to go there, and they love the EP I put out, it’s going really well there and that really triggered me to go to Japan and I can’t wait to be there.

JAmusic: You’ve done a few combinations in your career, is there some artists you are looking forward to working with in the future?

CE: Well if I never had any combination I would say Jah Cure, but I have already two songs with Jah Cure! And it’s great for me because the artists I’d love to work with, I’m already working with them! Cure, Jr. Gong all these big artists. And all my collaborations have been natural, we didn’t really plan to do a song with one person or the other. I have a song with Jr. Gong as well, still unreleased, so it’s just making music. And I’m open to go as far as I can go.

JAmusic: Is there anyone outside of the Reggae community you’d like to collaborate with?

CE: I have a few artists that I really admire, ‘cause I’m a lover of music in general, I love everything Soul, Hip Hop, R&B, and there’s so many artists that I love. I liked Usher when I was young, so if a song would come out with him or another artist I’d love that. I’m trying to make songs and climb the ladder, and be the biggest artist I can be as a solo artist, and anything else is a bonus.

JAmusic: As fans we all have our image of Alton Ellis. What is yours? Who was your Alton Ellis?

CE: My Alton Ellis was…ok, my father was a very loving man, very funny, he loved comedy you know? People just know the artist, the singer, but there was another side of him that was hilarious. I’m privileged to say he was my dad, it’s a privilege. Not because he was a singer, I mean that is there too, but for how he dealt with me, showed me love and these things that we take for granted. Lots of people don’t know who their dad is, so if you have a father in your life and he treats you good, it’s a big thing. And yes the music makes him special as well, because his songs are part of our culture, for us people who love Reggae so its great for me to be able to say ‘Yes, he was my dad!’.

JAmusic: Everyone would have a favourite so what’s your most favoured single from your dad?

CE: You see the thing with that now? It’s a mood thing, the mood changes on that. But, if you put a gun to my head, and say that I have to choose one, I’d say Breaking Up. There’s something about that song. When he sang it for Duke Reid, Treasure Isle, some soulfulness came out of him. It’s sweet and smooth you know? But then again I’m Still In Love or Let Him Try, I can’t really pick one ‘cause I love all of them but Breaking Up, something about that song deh, it owns everything. Yeah man my dad was a big catalogue man, great great man.

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