Sat | Feb 24, 2018

Protoje enjoying worldwide exposure

Published:Sunday | June 5, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Protoje at Tuff Gong Studios on Marcus Garvey Drive, Kingston, recently.
Reggae artiste Protoje during an interview with The Sunday Gleaner at his home in St Andrew, recently.

Securing performances at the biggest music festival on the United States West Coast and the largest summer festival in Europe, Protoje has established himself as an artiste who is intent on breaking into new markets abroad.

As one from the new generation of reggae artistes, Protoje has remained busy for the past year as he tells The Sunday Gleaner in this exclusive that this will be his longest stay at home in a while. Last year, he estimates that he spent only about 10 days in Jamaica.

"Since my first Sumfest, I know I've done 400-plus shows," he told The Sunday Gleaner, noting that he and his band have been touring across Europe and America "since about 2012 or 2013".

Now performing is a skill at which he finds himself quite adept, he admitted, because "when you do something 35 times in 38 days, you start to become very proficient at it."

Protoje has played at a number of major international music festivals and regards the opportunity as being among the highest achievements for a reggae artiste.

Highlighting the significance of performing on the highly anticipated and fervently attended Coachella Music Festival, held in California, he shared the accomplishment another member of reggae's new generation, Chronixx, describing the experience of sharing a stage with Chronixx on such a platform as "epic".

Summerjam Festival in Germany and Glastonbury in England are other major music festivals that Protoje believes signifies his progress on the international scene.

Desite the scale of the aforementioned festivals, Protoje happily recalled a sold-out show in Costa Rica as one of his absolute favourites.

"They knew the music as good as anywhere in the world," he said.

Local performances by the rising reggae star have, however, been few and far apart. Protoje sites unprofessional behaviour as one of the deterrents of working the local circuit. He describes his experiences in Jamaica as often being unprofessional, with shifting stage times and sometimes having to wait four hours after his slated time.

"I like to control the when, the where, and the how," he told The Sunday Gleaner, recalling his staging of Live From Kingston in 2014 and Ancient Future Live, which was held last February.


Loves travelling


Protoje admits to loving the extensive travelling that comes with the success of an artiste and says that although he doesn't get to do much sightseeing, with all the time constraints of sound checks and hotel check-ins, it's his favourite part of music.

"Without that, I wouldn't enjoy doing music."

Protoje's success remains on a steady rise with the recent premiere of his new single, Can't Feel No Way, unveiled exclusively on

"Five hours after Billboard premiered the song, it was on [BBC] Radio 1 ... and that's like a mainstream type of station," he made sure to point out. "It took me six years to get Who Knows on Radio 1. This time, it took five hours."

He recorded the song soon after arriving home from a long stint abroad.

"Don't feel no way about anything that the industry gives or does not give," is the message of the new song, with fitting cover art by Taj Francis of coconut jelly, fish, and bammy with a side of Grammy. The single preempts the release of his fourth album, which he says should be coming out quite soon and will be free.

"Once that first song drop in 2009, to now, 2016, three albums in between that time and a lot of success for the songs that have come out in that period, there are certainly no regrets for choosing this route," the artiste said with a rise of the chest. "I have no problem moving and making the music evolve," he told The Sunday Gleaner.