Protoje: 2010 Interview Image

by Alex Morrissey

Our interview with Protoje in 2010 before the release of his album 7 Year Itch.

What is the special meaning behind your name as it relates to your music- Protoje?
A colleague of mine "Evaflow" gave me that name Protoje. My real name being Oje..he just changed the proteje with the O. The reason for that though is because I am such a student of music. Music is my mentor and I am its Protoje.

What is it that you love about vintage music? How does it feed your soul?
Its the realness of it that grabs be the, the raw unadulterated nature of that music speaks to me on a level that does something to my energy and inspires me in a way that is necessary to my development as a performer.

In your opinion, is there a difference between music as entertainment and music as art?
Well for me music is ART from which people are entertained. It is definitely art first. The thing is however people can be entertained in different ways and enjoy themselves, but when the art comes into play is 2 years after when the meaning of the art speaks to you and that's y I focus on art first.

What other kind of art do you do apart from music?
Hehe, aaaaam right now none really. However I involve other types of art in my music. As u see every song I do has an artistic interpretation, I work closely with an upcoming graphic designer Taj Francis to bring my words and music to life visually. I'm slowly getting into video also, my sister directs my music videos so I'm learning from her.

How do you decide on which riddim to lay vocals on or what songs to write?
It's a very organic experience for me when writing, I really don't "decide" what to write I could start writing and the first line I had a totally different impression of what the song will be about and as more lines come to me the song takes shape. Musically the riddim has to do something to me physically, feel my body react to it…goosebumps butterflies etc..if I don't feel that, its very hard for me to write to it.

Who are some of the international artistes that you respect and admire?
MIDNITE!!! Would love to work with them eventually, I am really into their music. Amy Winehouse is a voice that does something to me also, Lupe Fiasco, Dead Prez, Asa..yeah man there is some good music out there much more also, but in time I'll get my opportunity to collaborate

Are there any local artistes who you would like to do collaborations with?
Yeah man how u mean. Jah 9 to me is one of the best writers and singers I have heard. Would also love to do a track with new singer/dj Keida..her style is soo original and fresh. Damian Marley also and Wayne marshall before I started music I said those two someday I want a collab, but if u ask me this question on a different day u might get a different answer is all about the energy at the time, so we'll see.

How important is image in the music business and how would you describe your image?
Image I dunno, I don't like this whole image thing. I just wake up and do what I feel at the moment, how u see me dress and operate is how I stay from time. I think it plays a role u know but waaaaay too much emphasis is placed on it. Nobody cant tell me how I must look to capitalize on fans etc, u crazy. How a stylist or manager or producer goin tell me what my image must be?

What do you think makes Jamaicans and Jamaican music special?
Resilience that we posses is one of our best qualities. You Just cannot count Jamaica out. That being said some of our finest music has come out of extreme struggle and hardships, so u could say the same thing that makes us special makes the music special.

Is there a main message that you want to bring across in your music?
U see the thing is the message is going to change as I grow and develop as a person. The main thing I try to maintain is positiviy. Music's main function in my opinion is the message in it so we have to be very careful in what we put out there as our Word Sound.

How do you relax and have fun?
Hehe..Listen to music, I like rehearsing also I find it quite relaxing. I like to get away from the city also, with a bottle of herb wine a good book. I grew up in country so I tend to keep it real simple, and anytime I really need to relax I go on a likkle cross country run clear the mind proper.

If you were not a music man what career would you pursue?
If I didn't do music, I woulda been a distance runner. I always loved track and Field, especially long distance.

What makes you happy?
Life is a Joy.

If there is one thing you could change about Jamaica today, what would it be?
U know what I would love? That as an island we feed ourselves. Grow our own food and eat of the land.

How far do you want to take your music?
I try to look on that as a daily task, and make progress each day. I have a decent amount of control over that. As that grows each day it gives me a lot of motivation to know that if I continue on that path then the future is promising.
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