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A Grammy nod, support slots alongside UB40 and new album talks - Raging Fyah are just getting started

Published:Friday | June 9, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Raging Fyah

The energy and fire that are brought by new bands in any music scene is healthy and can often be the main source of prosperity, which allows that scene to flourish and bloom.

Grammy-nominated five-piece band Raging Fyah have been receiving plaudits across the world for their tight and well-constructed live set and, more recently, their success with their recognition that the album, Everlasting, received alongside its Grammy nod.

They are currently dashing around the UK on tour with three iconic names in music.

"It's great being around the likes of Level 42, The Original Wailers and UB40", bassist Pele from the band tells me. "Being youngsters around the people who have done it for years, and playing to a more mature audience in stadiums and arenas is overwhelming. It's a situation you dream about. For years, we have listened to the likes of The Wailers and tunes like Red Red Wine by UB40, then, suddenly, we are watching from the side of the stage - it's surreal."

As well as the fun and frolics that surround tour life, the current run is proving to be a steep learning curve. "We are observing their professionalism; each show ends on time and all acts give 100% regardless of the conditions. It was raining heavily for the first two shows in Scotland, but that made no difference to the quality and standard of performance by the artistes. It's inspiring to watch," he tells me. I can sense the level of importance the band place on this run of shows and its relevance to their progression.

"We take what we do very seriously. We have made sacrifices and now we are celebrating 10 years together even though we are still considered a "young band". Three albums in and a Grammy nomination for our last one, Everlasting means we are being heard by a new and growing audience around the world."

So what's the situation in HQ? How has Jamaica taken to the band? "Truth be told, Jamaica is one of the hardest markets for us because the music isn't given the necessary platforms for it to be heard. Authentic roots music isn't getting played on radio and sound systems as it should be," he says with obvious frustration.

"Jamaica is hungry for the music, but it lacks the equal opportunity to be heard. We were against the odds from day one because we decided to play roots music against dancehall in its height. Truth is, we loved it, so we didn't care and just decided to pursue what we believed in. Overseas people showed us love and we thought that when the time was right, it would spread back home. We aren't the first band this has happened to - many other Jamaican roots bands have gone abroad to find success before returning back to JA."

This is a tale I am getting to hear more and more as I speak to the likes of Protoje, Kabaka Pyramid, Jah 9 and others. It seems they feel the need to look over at these shores for the confidence and major support that they are not receiving at home.

This leads me to the obvious influence of UK music on Raging Fyah as a band. Two names from this country stand out to them.

I think hearing Aswad performing live, especially that unmistakable dub element they had, that knocked me for six when I first saw that. Then when I found out later that my cousin Bigga played keyboards for them. It made me love them even more! Steel pulse was the same - those were the bands that had the "whoa!" factor for me in particular."

Don't be fooled into thinking it's just the old school UK acts that have an influence on these guys - the sound of 2017 resonates largely with them. "We listen to Stormzy and those artistes there - the Grimey style kinda caught our ear! We love the energy" he laughs. I ask him why he thinks grime hits home with young Jamaican roots artistes so much (the likes of Proto, Kabaka, Chronixx, et al have all saluted the Grime sound from the UK).

"It's a feeling - our music is influenced by what we see and feel around us. Sometimes, subconsciously, you can tap into that style without us even noticing. We love all kinds of music.

It is this global appeal that will, no doubt, serve them well moving forward. I wondered how the Grammy nomination had impacted their work.

"Us being here in the UK represents part of the impact. It is just coming into effect now. We are a Grammy-nominated band and people see a potential value and endorsement of us. We haven't seen the full effect yet, but I know more things are coming. For example, we are on the Welcome To Jamrock cruise, which is a big look for us.

So what's next? "It's just music, touring and uplifting the people, with maybe an album next year. We tour America for a month with UB40 then back to Europe for a festival run. The live performances are our connection to the people. That's what we are pushing forward with..."

The band has a very clear vision and identity and I have to say that the future looks bright for them.