Orisha Sound; embracing the expression of time Image

by Biko Kennedy

Cloaked in Russian and Brazilian ancestry, Orisha Sound sits as a multidisciplinary vocalist and instrumentalist that pulls you closer with her bubbly personality and captivating lyricism. We caught up with her for an inspiring in-depth interview. 

JAmusic: Music lovers globally will always be looking for that new, impeccable sound that can be looked upon as leaders of the new wave of vocalists. How would you define a musical genius that can eventually become a vocal leader?
OS: There is no recipe or a formula for genius. Zeen? All the discoveries in music or science come form finding a new vision, a new way to explain things we all used to see everyday. Nothing new under the sun. Its how we interpret things – that what is new. All the musical geniuses I know – like Miles Davis, Bob Marley, Jimmy Hendrix and others – were extremely individual but perfectly relatable to the audience. I keep super high standards in music. Music is soul, music is fun but also music is a cure and solution. New visionaries have to free, experimental and daring but respectful and focused. Music is a knowledge – it comes to us from a while back so its up to us to preserve and develop it for the future. 

JAmusic: Some of the most genius artistes have thrived when taking chances and innovating. How important/present is that on the Reggae soundscape today; from what you've seen and that might have help in composing your singles?OS: I can’t agree more – reggae music is not a stale creature – its alive. It changes – grows, develops…Of course there some rules – standards I say – those little magic moments which we get from the masters (vocal melodies, Instrumental riffs, song structure, etc)  – Dennis Brown, Garnett Silk, Marcia Griffith… Its as much important to know where you coming from, as where you are going. But here is a trick – one of the most powerful musical moments came from the mistakes – I’ve heard lots of artist mentioning this. So yes – it’s important to master your chops as an artist/singer/musician – to become a master. When master makes a “mistake” – or takes chances as you said – magic can happen.

JAmusic: How do you think the single Embrace It will impact your growing fan base as well as attract new ones?
OS: This song is collaboration with dancehall powerhouse Sizzla Kalonji off my last album Cupid. The song and the video got lots of international attention and got to number one spot on multiple charts in Jamaica and Canada. It got lots of press and online buzz in Jamaica, Africa, Europe… so people who never heard Orisha Sound music before started following my musical journey. The other two reggae tunes from the album – both one drop songs - Sunshine Lady ft Wayne Daniel and my solo song Beautiful Sin got lots of air play and love from the fans as well.

JAmusic: With every single that an artist releases they intend to tell a specific story. What is the tale being told on Embrace it?
OS: Embrace It is a powerful song with a powerful name. The name speak for itself – Embrace It – whatever comes your way – live it, make the best out of it. Being on the road as an artist from an early age – I learned a lot – things like – it’s not what happens to you but how you take it. This is a love song but a tough song. Stand by your man, stand by your woman, dream big – make it happen.

JAmusic: How did you make the connection with Sizzla?
OS: The connection was made by Jamaican producer Shel-K, who later became Orisha Sound’s producer/manager. There is actually a story behind this production. When we were getting ready to shoot a music video for a song “Embrace it” – me, Shel-K and our driver were held at the gunpoint in Half Way Tree area in Kingston. Shel-K received a gunshot in abdomen and went through 8-hour surgery in Kingston Public Hospital. I was advised to leave the island and postponed the video production. The situation united our team even more and increased determination to win in this highly competitive and hard game of show business. Despite of pain and pressure the decision was made to stick with the schedule and produce the video on time. She-K was in critical condition for 24 hours but recovered quickly. The video was shot two days later with the producer calling the shots from his hospital bed. As I mentioned, later on that year the song “Embrace It” went number one on multiple charts worldwide including CVM Hit List and Hype TV Top Ten in Jamaica. So “Embrace It” has a very special place in my heart. It is a foundation of Orisha Sound team.

JAmusic: What's the biggest risk you've taken artistically; one that went over surprisingly well and one that might've gone over people's heads?
OS: I was asked by my fans to do a hardcore dancehall tune for a while already.  But when my latest single drop in July 2014 – “Black Coffee” on Rolling Mad Riddim – the reaction surprised even me. I got lots of follow from Hip-Hop crowd as well as Dancehall lovers. The song got picked by the Jamaican top radio stations (IrieFM, ZipFM, Hitz92, FameFM, Suncity) really quick as well as by the stations in US, Japan, Europe, UK and Africa. At the moment I am in full dance/music rehearsal mode for the video for this song. Trust me, you will see nuff surprises in this one. I go bed everyday feeling soar all over my body  – “Black Coffee” is really working me out everyday. You know, Jamaica has one of the best coffee in the world. Its true… lol

JAmusic: Who's the artiste that keeps you on your toes? Pushes you to go harder?
OS: I’m staying current on what’s going on in dancehall and reggae music as well as on the global scene. I listen to lots of old school reggae tunes – for flavor, feel … Its amazing how some songs stay current and move people after 20-30 or even 40 years from being recorded. It’s a pretty nice challenge, right?   

JAmusic: When you got into the music business where did you think you'd be today or where did you see yourself fitting in at the moment?
OS: I have been in music since I was 4 years old, but I am quite new to the music business. For years I have been on the scene as a singer/musician/dancer. I got a chance to share time in the studio and stage with Stevie Wonder – I was chosen to sing at his annual Nokia Theatre Christmas show, Anthony Hamilton – you can hear me arranging and playing on his latest album, Snoop – I did some string work for him, Devante Swing – he was my close mentor in the studio for over a year and many more. Orisha Sound as a project was founded in 2012 – almost two years now. We are moving at a very fast pace – I have 15 track album released by RBC Records in Los Angeles July 2013, and 10 official released singles including World War Three feat Beenie Man, which is climbing top US radio play lists, Embrace It ft Sizzla Kalonji, my solo work – Own Ya, Make Me Moan, Beautiful Sin and the latest Black Coffee. This year I performed at Jamaica jazz and Blues Festival Main stage lone side Beenie Man, did a set at Kite Festival and GT Taylor Christmas extravaganza, headlined KOTA Art Festival and more. A few weeks ago I performed 1 hour 30 min show at the Red Bones here in Kingston – complete Orisha Sound experience – full of reggae/dancehall music, dancing and featuring some of the instruments I play.  So, I am in a happy place now;)

JAmusic: What's the purpose on your musical journey? What's the message you're trying to give?
OS: Yes Orisha Sound is a project with the purpose.  I don’t talk much about my childhood – I was growing up with my whole family in one room apartment in post revolution Russia with all the commotion, poverty… My parents had to work from dusk till down, we had shortage of food and clothes. Of course couldn’t really travel – because it require visas which were hard to get and proof of funds… Now I am an international artist – traveling the world and living here in Jamaica – the heart of reggae music. Live is not what you get but what you make out of it. The only person can set my limits or tell me no is myself. Human spirit and mind is incredible power. I know this from my own experience. It’s my reality. We are as people are capable of incredible things. Life is a miracle its our right and duty to live it to the fullest. No excuses. I love music. It is my gift. God gave it to me and I’m sharing it with the world. Its fun and it’s a duty. Love is al there is.

JAmusic: What's one song that you hold close to you because of a particular line or better yet what's the most philosophical quote you've heard in a song that you hold close to your heart?
OS: Hmmm…You see as a singer and a musician, I am driven by the sounds in music. I play lots of music instruments, so its usually the recipe of the song – sound bland, arrangement, mood and melody of the song that grabs me the most.

JAmusic: We live in an era where the average person's attention span is limited to what they want to see or hear. What are you doing differently that will hold their attention?
OS: I guess my secrete is to keep on doing what Orisha Sound does the best – write music, sing, perform, entertain. I live a very busy but extremely intense and fun life – I share my experience with my fans on YouTube, Instagram, FB, twitter… I enjoy the process – all of it. See?  I LOVE being on the stage, but I love my rehearsal process almost as much – its like cooking and eating – both are connected. I don’t hide – you can see pictures and clips of Orisha Sound on my social media. Orisha Sound community is not shy – we talk – ask each other questions and communicate a lot – so if you love reggae music, dance, travel, life – Welcome to our community.

JAmusic: With success comes a lot of negative feedback, how do you react or deal with negativity?
OS: If someone chooses to be negative I have no control over it – its them being negative on their own time. All I can do is stay positive and focus on what important to Orisha Sound – love, music, progress, learning… I got no time for negative – I believe that is waist of precious hours we got in day – only 24 remember? ;)

JAmusic: What kind of future plans have you set for yourself as an artiste (to accomplish and maintain)?
OS: We are doing lots of work here. My fans and Orisha Sound team is staying by my side and I give them back all my best. Currently we are finishing a new reggae LP, which will be released next month. It includes nice new reggae, ska songs and features some of Jamaica’s big name artists.  Also I have a full album to finish by the end of the year. Also, my label - Black and Yellow Entertainment, which my producer Sheldon Shel-K Williams is a part of, just build a new music/dance rehearsal studio in the heart of Kingston. I am there everyday – in full swing rehearsal with my dancers, singers and the band. We are refining Orisha Sound live show experience, getting ready for all the upcoming shows.

JAmusic: What insight can you give on the power of music and its ability to communicate certain messages verbally and non-verbally? And what do you think your music represent? Music is a universal language.
OS: The right song can unite, heal, uplift, inspire, teach, make you simply smile or dance... I think it is necessary like food. Music is also a science, which came to us from the ancestors – there are so many messages in music. Songs have a life of their own, like children – they born and then walk into life and get places or get nowhere. I spend time with my music, my songs – I want them to reach far and live long.

Image A music aficionado redefining possibilities while pushing the limits of success...
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