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5 Questions with Jesse Royal

Published:Thursday | October 12, 2017 | 12:00 AMKimberley Small
Jesse Royal
Jesse Royal
Jesse Royal
Jesse Royal

From his introductory mixtape In Comes the Small Axe and breakout single Modern Day Judas, Jesse Royal has developed to the recent release of his debut album, Lily of Da Valley. The album is the top set on the Billboard Reggae Album Chart, and Jesse has a lot to say about his influences, approach, family, and, of course, music.


You have established an international reputation. Has travelling become difficult for you and the crew, considering the aggravated state of foreign affairs?

Travelling is travelling, yuh nah mean? Yuh haffi get from point A to point B some way. We travel with a divine protection. We are children of the Most High, so we neither worry nor fret about anything at all. Yeah, man.

In 2015, Vogue magazine labelled you as one of the 'Reggae Revivalists' (along with Chronixx, Jah9, Protoje and Kabaka Pyramid). I noticed a few fans on social media calling 'Lily of the Valley' a true 'revival'. Do you subscribe to the term 'reggae revivalist and what does it mean to you?

I don't know if subscribe is the right word, but we definitely entertain the thought of a whole enlightened generation moving forward, regaining them consciousness, 'overstanding' them worth in this whole scheme of things. And understanding seh we have a job to do for the youth after us, just like a job was done before us.

Is one inna di same, but we definitely know dat supm ah gwaan, and supm ah guh continue gwaan, because it's just the tip of the iceberg.

"The yout' dem a get conscious, the yout' dem a wake up, the yout' dem a open dem ears yah now to certain different ideas, an' a entertain different situations and vibrations and ways of dealing with tings. So definitely, black man rich again man.

Your style has been described as militant/desert. Can you share where your style cues come from?

My style cues really come from myself, and mi definitely travel. So whether you believe it or not, you are influenced by your experience.

But on a roots level, we a militant yout' and we connected to the earth, so certain tones resonate a likkle bit more wid we.

And certain ideas of fashion, I guess, resonate different wid we, true we a militant yout'. But we style cue dem really come from wiself.

We wear what we like, and whatever we feel feels right, yuh nah mean?

There is some speculation that the softened tonality of the album is related to the birth of your daughter. How has your growing family affected your music-making?

The birth of my daughter has definitely had a positive effect on my life. I don't know if it's softening me or simply balancing me out, because leaning to either side too much isn't good, So it's not too hard, not too soft.

With I and I, she definitely play a big part in me, in terms of my first experience of not just being a child anymore - and then trying to dive into the realms of what woman means to me - and trying to relay this message to this likkle princess who will one day be a queen. So she has had an effect on me. And then, family on a whole definitely affects you as a man. But music is music, but all of these things is really influence and experience. You cyaa run from it from you is a true artiste; things that is happening around and thing that you're feeling you're going to someway, somehow put them in your work. So, love I and I life without a doubt, so she definitely change I life, for the better.

Do you have a vinyl collection? If yes, which albums/singles do you have and will 'Lily of Da Valley' be issued on vinyl?

Lily of Da Valley will definitely be available on vinyl. The ones that were pressed have actually already been sold out, so we definitely going into some more. Not a big, big collector of vinyls, but my favourite vinyl would have to be Harvest Uptown by Soul Syndicate.