music morsels indie music November 2006 

by Mark E. Waterbury


MUSICAL GENRE:  Reggae/Dancehall
BIRTH PLACE:  Hudsonville, MI
# OF CDs SOLD: New CD not released yet
FAN BASE:  Several thousand worldwide

MW: Was reggae the genre that initial garnered your interest in music?

ZY: The Police was one of the first bands I got into, and they do have that reggae feel where they mix rock with it. I actually wasn’t exposed to reggae that much until I was about seventeen. After that I got really interested in it and joined a band called the Ark Band, went on the road, learned the ropes. Later on I was in the Virgin Islands and also lived in Kingston, Jamaica where I was in the studio and did shows with reggae artists. 

MW: Once you joined the Ark Band did you really feel that you had developed a love for reggae and that made you want to pursue it further?

ZY: Definitely. I learned all the details like the difference between calypso and reggae, and keyboard parts, bass lines, rhythm sections, dub style, mixes...everything that I was not really familiar with before I joined the band.

MW: Is that why you went to the Virgin Islands and Jamaica, to immerse yourself in the reggae music and culture?

ZY: Yeah. I had gone to Kingston especially because there had been only a handful of female artists when I started. A lot of the well known female reggae artists weren’t there when I first came. So I felt that someone needed to represent the ladies.

MW: How did you get into the DJ and dancehall side of music, and do you feel that mixing that with the reggae has also made your music unique?

ZY: There was hardly anyone doing DJ-ing at the time, so I just delved into that and worked really hard at it. Right now I am always in the studio and do at least a couple of songs a month. I wasn’t really the only person mixing reggae and dancehall, people like Shabba Ranks and Tiger where there when I got into it. What is unique is that I am the first white female to do this type of music.

MW: What brought you to Atlanta?

ZY: Actually I went to New York first, and I started my own label called Hotness Records. My first tune was on rotation in New York and I did some touring with Frankie Paul and some other acts. I just felt that it was time to move somewhere else, and I kept working in the studios in Atlanta, and it’s a bit closer to Jamaica, too. (Laughs)

MW: You are involved with some very noted producers for the CD. How did you get involved with them?

ZY: Most of them I met in Jamaica at the studios I was working in, so I was familiar with a lot of them. Many people think that in reggae the DJ is that artist like the ones who work with rappers in the U.S. and they are just spinning the records. If you are a DJ in reggae you are actually on the mic.

MW: You have also been performing live for quite awhile, and your shows have the reputation of being energetic. Do you feel that is another different aspect from the sometimes more laid back vibe of reggae?

ZY: Actually, I perform some songs that are more traditional in their reggae vibe, and some songs that are more upbeat, dancehall music that has more effects and is very danceable. The shows involve a lot of talking to the crowd and getting my music out to them. I like to get the crowd involved with the show. Some of the toughest crowds are in Jamaica, because there are a lot of expectations and a lot of competition. So you really have to do well in front of those crowds.

MW: Since the full recording of the CD is not going to be out for a bit yet, do you feel you are creating a pre-buzz for it, so it already has momentum when it does get released?

ZY: We’re doing well with it. We have about fifteen hundred sound systems, you know, DJs with turntables, that are spinning cuts from the album around the globe. We are also getting some songs into rotation on the radio, so there are some things we are doing to get it out there now. We have songs at CD Baby and I-Tunes as well. We’re doing a show at a festival in Savannah (Georgia) in November and are going to do more club shows, too. We always make sure our web site is updated so people know what is happening.

MW: What do people like the most about the music?

ZY: They think that the music is catchy and they like the lyrics. In reggae you get to address a lot of issues and morality, and that is expected, especially when you are doing roots reggae. I don’t really like songs that don’t have much lyrical content, and I like to write songs that get people thinking. I have a pen and paper with me all the time in case I get a song idea that pops into my head. Current events can often spawn a song with me.

MW: Do you think you are going to be successful with your music career, and what do you think it will take to get there?

ZY: I really want to increase the audience in general for dancehall reggae. People like Shabba Ranks and Sean Paul opened people’s ears to it, and more people are learning of it, and it has enriched more people. I just need to keep plugging at it, keep playing with the band, keep getting it out to radio and just doing everything I can to reach as many people as possible. I like to get out and meet people. I get them to sign them up on the web site, and we keep in touch with them through emails and also through our Myspace page. You can never reach too many people.

Division of Serge Entertainment Group