Rootstronic, the next stage of Jamaica's musical evolution? Image

by Biko Kennedy

In music evolution is inevitable and is possibly one of the few things that are fated to change. Then again, the only constant in life is change with progressive change certainly is one factor that keeps music alive. Such is the case and the inspiration for 'Rootstronic'.

In an attempt to be different and do different things vocalist Courtney John, Nastassja 'The Wizard' Hammond and Grammy winning musician Steven 'Lenky' Marsden came together and decided to let loose "a place where musicians can be brave and not have to worry about their expressions" thus giving birth to the Courtney John Project - a melodic fusion of Dub, Roots Reggae, Classical, Electronic, Grime, R and B, Hip-Hop and Dub Step.

Our first taste from the project came in form of Soul of a Man greeted with mixed reviews but couldn't be deny the fact that it was different enough to hold our attention in its entirety. Now with their latest release, Black Cinderella (a sample of the original version of the song, recorded in 1972 by Errol Dunkley.), they are turning even more heads. We caught up with the mastermind behind the project, Courtney John, to find out more about 'Rootstronic' and their upcoming album, Future, set to be released April 30th.

Jamaicansmusic: The Courtney John Project plays as a kinetic fusion of Roots Reggae and Electronica/ Dub Step, why go the route of creating this sound? I understand as producers/artistes you all try to find an element that will influence the musical landscape but why was it deemed necessary to step into this creative lane?

Courtney John: It's really a classic case of art imitating life, where as all these new genres seem to represent the way people socialise and go about their daily lives. But in doing so, we were mindful of staying true to some of our indigenous sound. Thus our motto "Roots is the foundation...Tronics is the innovation"

JAmusic: So this new sound is being dubbed 'Rootstronic'. As the evolution of Jamaican music continues can you see where this, Rootstronic, is the next stage of evolution? Taking a step away from Dancehall.

CJ: It's not about taking a step away from dancehall or from any of our genres that has been at the forefront; it's just about creating multiple lanes that creative people may take.

JAmusic: Undoubtedly Jamaica is melting pot of creative elements; with the singles Soul of a Man, Very Special and now Black Cinderella, how do you think these singles are changing, altering, evolving or adapting to Rootstronic productions?

CJ: Well it's still a work in progress and with the album that's slated for an April 30th release and with the team that we have assembled, I think people will understand in totality what the sound is about. Our thing is to be true to the music, do what we enjoy and just to make the best of what we do.

JAmusic: There are varying views depicting what makes a piece creative; for some it's important that the artiste/ producer have something to say. What is it that Steven "Lenky" Marsden, Courtney John and The Wizard trying to say with The Courtney John Project?

CJ: We are saying, "expression without any limitations".

JAmusic: Is The Courtney John Project just a movement of the three of you guys or is it an actual project to be released as an EP or LP prior to the album Future?

CJ: It is a movement where it's forever evolving and may include other people, but for now the first album Future.

JAmusic: Seeing that an artiste's song usually mirrors his/her personality, what are Rootstronic songs reflecting about Courtney John?

CJ: The songs are a reflection of the different personalities of the group, but if there are any words to describe these personalities it would be 'cutting edge'.

JAmusic: What is the main challenge being faced marketing a sound like this to an unwilling/ closed-minded audience and to whom exactly are you marketing the sound to?

CJ: I think with this sound we are more concerned with the people who get it. So far, we have been getting great support.

JAmusic: As a creative individual, you have to be faithful to your own vision, to art and self-expression. What were some of the biggest discoveries you made undertaking this project?

CJ: I think the biggest discovery is how appreciative people are when you don't limit the creative process.

JAmusic: While making these discoveries what was the most interesting bit of knowledge learnt?

CJ: I think the most interesting knowledge I've learnt is how much artist and musicians have in common when given that space to be creative without boundaries.

JAmusic: What is the one thing you see missing from Jamaica's musical landscape and how can it be changed?

CJ: There is more than one thing missing, but I just think the lack of great producers is somewhat haemorrhaging the music business. There is not a lack of talent...I think the persons to help motivate and mould that talent is missing.

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