Five Questions With … Dale Virgo
AFTER A couple of musical explorations, Dale ‘Dizzle’ Virgo can say that he has discovered his niche. Running a tight ship as a record producer, musician, songwriter, studio engineer, entrepreneur and, in recent times, film-maker, he has charted the course from ‘self-taught’ to success story. Virgo has turned his love for technology and production into a professional pursuit, catching the attention of some of the biggest names along the way. It may have started with gospel music, but his breakthrough came with reggae artiste Gyptian’s 2004 hit song, ‘ Serious Times’, which created waves on the local and international scene. He has contributed to over 60 albums, several TV and film productions, and has produced countless hit songs, including Rihanna’s ‘ Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ (the first multi-platinum recording Virgo was a part of), D’Angel’s ‘ Dreams’, Christopher Martin’s ‘ Mama’, Agent Sasco’s ‘ Banks of the Hope’, and Kim Nain’s ‘ Marijuana’.
But even with all the successful hits, when it comes to his production career, he says, “I am still striving to be better and constantly learning in an ever-evolving music industry.” With that yearning to learn more and become a master in his field, the producer has not allowed opportunities to work with other labels and music companies to pass – working with the likes of Geejam Music and Hotel Group, before partnering with Troy Baker to establish independent label DZL Records. He worked in the music and tech division, where he regularly conducted recording sessions with Billboard Top 10 artistes, such as Grace Jones and Drake.
“When I started my first labels, Dizzle Lab Productions and Holy Ground Records (primarily a gospel label), all I wanted to do was just create. I was aiming to work with stars like Michael Jackson and was being optimistic about what fate had in store for me,” he said. “Working on a couple of successful projects inspired me and pushed me to aim higher than just being a bedroom producer. I realised, later in my career, that I had to create my own brand and label to push my sound out and get recognition for the works I had done, in my own way.” Virgo is naturally an educator, engaging musicians in his signature rhythm-making and songwriting sessions, but it is a role he has had to employ lately in his own home, where he is a husband and a father of two. He shared all of this in this week’s Five Questions With …
What has been your most challenging production thus far and why?
The last Jolly Boys album I worked on. I worked on that project for eight years and by the time it was completed, all older members of the band had died. So I had to do a lot of post-production on the project. In the end, we were able to create a masterpiece.
As a father of two, how are you coping with the recent distance-learning arrangements? (b) Do you feel schools should be waiving fees at this time, or calling this a summer break until school can continue?
Homeschooling is very difficult but is a good chance to connect better with your children, teaching them things you learnt growing up. My children, Zahara and Zayn, are now pressuring me daily for music lessons. My daughter, who is seven years old, has been doing Zom sessions online with her school, and she has been enjoying that.
I do believe school should be waiving fees at this time, especially preparatory schools. I know there is an economic aspect to that, and it is very difficult, as the schools need money to operate. There needs to be a national plan as it regard revamping the education system to adjust to COVID-19. Online learning should be pushed; technology needs to be utilised for that purpose. Maybe pause the term now (early summer), get funding, and train teachers and school to adapt to the new normal, then do a school term during the months of summer. People have nothing else to do this summer rather than stay home, so staggering the summer term to start later is an idea that can be explored.
Do you consider yourself a good cook? On a typical day, what would you prepare for dinner?
Ha ha, my wife is the great chef who puts me to shame, but I make all the junk food in the house – pizza, burgers, hot dogs and breakfast foods.
You’ve crossed over into producing short films. Do you see yourself applying this platform to market and expose the music business?
I had been working on mixing and scoring The Agency, a television series directed by Rick Elgood, and on my own short film Dreadlock, which is based on a true story of my own experience being Rastafarian and discriminated against because my family and I have locks.
So, I definitely seeing myself using films to promote my music. Music relies on outlets for exploitation; and film has been a very powerful outlet for showcasing music. I do believe that this is what the Jamaican music business lacks – different and sufficient outlets to get our music out. I also have had over 13 years of experience mixing and editing films. I have mixed short films, full feature films, and many documentaries, as well as provided music for TV shows, movies and documentaries.
If you could create one piece of technology, an invention to change the world, what would it be?
This is a very hard question. The world is developing so fast that most things I would think of have probably been created already. Maybe a cloning machine. Then I could clone myself to have more of me to do more, that I can have help to build the most successful record label the world has ever seen to contribute to the global music industry.