Thereīs no doubt, that one of the highlights of the "Summerjam" 2012 in Cologne was the gig of JAHCOUSTIX! With his band and songs like "Another Day" he put the festival crowd in enthusiasm. In our interview at the banks of the lake "Fühlinger See", the sympathetic German Reggae musician told me about his childhood in Africa, his album "Crossroads" and his future plans:
You spend most of your youth in different African countries. How did this influence you as a person and as a musician?
Well, in so many ways. I mean growing up in African countries as a white young boy was something special. I mean, you are like a white young guy in the middle of a lot black people from a very different culture with a different mentality. I was living in a very sheltered environment. Because there is a lot of criminality, people say, you need to secure yourself and these kind of shitty things. But it was necessary, even two times people broke into our house. You needed security in a way. But the reason why people break into houses, is that they are so poor. Coming back to your question: That was one of the aspects that really influenced me a lot. Seeing poverty in my everyday life, while living a very sheltered life myself. That brought up a lot of questions and so I started looking for answers. And looking for answers took me downtown Nairobi to look for the Rasta people. I met a lot of Rasta people there, who started telling me about Reggae music and who introduced me to the first Reggae music. So it had a great impact on my life that time.
Last time we talked about your single "World Citizen" and "Think Big". Today I like to talk about "Crossroads". "Crossroads" is the album that you published two years ago and it is also connected with a charity project, right?
Parts of it, yes. I released "Crossroads" end of 2010 and it was basically like a melting pot between all the experience that I made, when I went on a world tour in 2009. I went on a world tour with GENTLEMAN, which was taking us to the U.S., to South America and all around Europe. And I did a West Africa tour in 2009. And after that West Africa tour we did a lot of workshops with the local artist and I found so much talent, that I thought "Letīs make a project with these artists". Because they were unknown artists, very unknown West African local artists. And so I took the instrumental of the title song of "Crossroads", the song, which I did together with GENTLEMAN. And I send it to the guys and they sung their own versions and their own songs over that instrumental. After that I released a one riddim sampler, which is called "Crossroades to West Africa". Because that was the name of the project, we did. It was a very, very good way to show them to the German Reggae scene, to make this West African artist get heard in the German Reggae scene.
"Crossroads" contains also the song "Live Today", that you did together with an artist whoīs playing at the "Summerjam", too: SEBASTIAN STURM. How was it to work with him?
Heīs a good guy, man. I know Sebastian for a long time, but since we are on tour all the time, we donīt see each other as much as we are used to. But once you have a connection to somebody, it doesnīt really matter, if you donīt see this person for a few month. You are just re-connected, when you were disconnected. We sat together and we thought it would be really great to write a song together, because I had written a song with him for his last album "One Moment in Peace", which is called "Invitation". And so I thought, for me next record, we need to make a song together again. We sat like "Hey, letīs live today, man". We were talking and discussing about just living the moment, about being here and right now, where you are. So we said, weīll write a song together about this subject. Thatīs what we did: "Live Today" reflects this kind of mentality.
2009 you joined GENTLEMAN on his South America Tour and for "World Citizen" you worked with SHAGGY. So whoīs next? Is there another artist, you really like to work with?
There are so many artists I would like to work with. I canīt really name a specific artist right now. There are so many artist I want to work with, but for me itīs also important to feel that person first. With SHAGGY it was the first time, that I did a collaboration, where I didnīt meet that artist before. In order to get to know the person, to feel like whether we were like "online" together. I will see. With the next record everything is possible. So maybe I will ask some old Jamaican veteran to get them to do a collaboration, because you never know how long these people will still be on earth physically. In the last few years a lot of those very old legendary veteran Jamaican singers have died because of age. Itīs really, really sad. But there are still some hanging tough, they are still there. I wanna use to possibility to make songs with some of my biggest idols from my youth days. For instance MYSTIC ROOTS, STEEL PULSE, MIGHTY DIAMONDS, BURNING SPEAR... I think itīs gonna be very difficult to make a collaboration with BURNING SPEAR, but there are so many great singers out there, where I have the feeling that we could sound good together.
Is there already a name or a conception for this future project?
No, not really. I mean, I have so many songs written down already and composed. So I have more than enough songs for a record, but I wanna try out something new. I wanna see where the journey goes, because Reggae music is something, that is always with me. Like one drop is like my heartbeat, itīs always with me, Reggae music will always be an influence on my music, but maybe on the next record Iīm gonna go away from roots Reggae to maybe something more experimental. But I canīt really say something. Iīm doing jams with my bassist and my drummer at the moment, just bass, drum and guitar. And last time we did a jam session it sounded a bit likeTHE POLICE. Kind of rocky Reggae style. But itīs not written in stone.
Photo: Kati Rausch
Article: Kati Rausch