Tag Archives: Jonahgold

Solid third album from Rob Symeonn

RobSymeonnIndigenousAlbumArtYesterday and today I had a smile on my face when I walked to work. Why? I was listening to Rob Symeonn’s uplifting third album Indigenous, a set produced by Sweden’s Jonahgold, Hawaii’s Jah Youth Productions and New York City’s Ticklah.

Jamaican ex-patriot Rob Symeonn has been recording for more than two decades, but is probably not a household name in the reggae industry, perhaps because he hasn’t been terribly productive. But his singles and albums have been very solid, and so is Indigenous.

The set holds a healthy 15 tracks, of which two are previously released singles and one already featured on Jah Youth’s Indo riddim album.

Despite being directed by three producers from different parts of the world, Indigenous is surprisingly consistent. It’s partly deep, dark and dubby, for example the haunting Life is Precious and the smoky Respect Due, but it’s also positive and uplifting, as in the skanking Grass is Greener or the joyous Because of You, a version of Japanese crooner Kyu Sakamoto’s 60s smash hit Ue o Muite Arukō aka Sukiyaki.

Rob Symeonn is a confident and sincere singer and this is certainly a strong set from an underrated and under recorded artist.

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Organized chaos on Dubby Skyline

daweh-congo-Dubby-Skyline-jaqIn 2009 Swedish producer and mixing engineer Jonahgold put out Daweh Congo’s acclaimed and dread album Ghetto Skyline. Four years later its dub counterpart hits the streets.

On Dubby Skyline Jonahgold has dubbed twelve of the original album’s 13 tracks with great results. And this dub version is probably even darker and more dread than the original album.

Jonahgold has twisted, turned and restructured the songs to an organized chaos flavoured with delay, reverb and Daweh Congo’s distorted grim chanting dropping in and out of the mix.

Some of the songs lean toward ambient and are ethereal and dreamy. One example is Dub Struggle, another is Dub and Be Happy. A few others are more energetic and could rock a dance floor at Ibiza or a warehouse in Detroit. Listen to Daydub and you’ll see why.

Best of the bunch is however the three initial cuts, which are most roots oriented. I’m especially fond of Dub Conscious and One Dub with their relentless are fearsome drum and bass.

Jonahgold is a clever mixing engineer and not afraid of taking roots reggae into new fields and dimensions as this well-crafted set certainly proves.

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Lethal remix from Jonahgold

Swedish producer Jonahgold has done a dancehall remix of Dödens Portar by Houman Sebghati and Mary N’diaye.

The catchy remix is based on Augustus “Gussie” Clarke’s Rumours riddim, and is pretty far away from the original hip-hop version.

“I received an a cappella and just let it roll until my body chose the beat,” says Jonahgold.

Listen below and download it for free on Soundcloud.

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The mystic world of Jonahgold

Jonahgold is one of Sweden’s most notable reggae producers, and has worked with both domestic and international artists. He is a sound engineer, producer and musician and has learned his craft from legendary Swedish studio owner and producer Internal Dread. Reggaemani got a long chat with Jonahgold in the Rub a Dub studio.

My first contact with Jonahgold was in relation to the release of Sheya Mission’s acclaimed debut album Nine Signs & Heavy Bliss. From our e-mail conversation prior to the interview I learned that he works at the Rub a Dub studio, just around the corner from where I live.

We decided I should drop by.

A few days later I sat down in a well-used sofa in the studio, located downstairs in a backyard at Södermalm, an area in central Stockholm. A room that seems to serve as a living room, bedroom and kitchen.

We discussed reggae. I greated singer and trombonist Joseph Beckford, studio owner Internal Dread and two Swiss musicians on a visit.

Jonahgold showed me around the studio. Though he has worked there since the late 90’s he still looks like a child in a candy store when describing the different elements in the heart of the studio. Delays, reverbs and other equipment essential to a sound engineer and producer.

Unfortunately I had to leave after just a few minutes. We decided to set a new date for an interview at the coffee shop opposite the studio.

Jonahgold

Jonahgold is one of Sweden's most notable reggae producers.

A week goes by and I’m heading for the interview. Just when I’m about to reach the café I notice an individual outside the studio entrance, sweeping the street clean from gravel. It’s Jonahgold.

“The coffee shop is closed for renovation”, he says and suggests that we use the studio instead.

Jonahgold boils tea and we sit down in the sofa for the interview. A long interview.

Jonahgold is thoughtful, low-voiced and cool and he often emphasizes certain words.  He has long hair, round glasses and gives the impression of an intellectual as we talk about his passion for reggae and mysticism.

But let’s take it from the beginning.

Started as a tennis player
Jonahgold started playing the piano at an early age and he also went to music school in Stockholm.

“I played boogie woogie, and really liked it,” he says.

He was also a promising tennis player and competed in his early teens. One of the players he met was former world no. 1 Björn Borg.

“I played against him when he was about to make his first comeback. It was great fun,” he says, and continues:

“I believe that tennis gave me discipline, dedication and focus.”

Jonahgold says that the basis for his musicianship is the keyboard, but that he hasn’t got enough patience to practice. He is rather in the studio behind the mixing desk.

He started out in a local reggae band in the 80’s and sometimes played with Cool Runnings, a band that worked with late producer Denniz Pop.

“I also played with a band called Yardem Riddims, which had Sheya Mission on vocals. We did recordings and sent them to some labels.”

Working with Daweh Congo
His first release on his own label – Goldheart Music – was Sheya Mission’s Valley in 1997.

“We were almost the only ones putting out Swedish produced singles,” he remembers.

Since then much has happened. Jonahgold has produced Daweh Congo, Mysticman and Desmond Foster.

“Since the label started in the mid 90’s I have put out records every other year.”

Jonahgold is lucky. He has had the opportunity to produce his favorite singer and lyricist Daweh Congo. It begun in 2004 with a few recordings and in 2009 Daweh Congo’s praised album Ghetto Skyline hit the streets.

“He performed at the Uppsala Reggae Festival in 2004. He came to the studio and we recorded Steppin’ and Ganja Baby,” Jonahgold says, and adds:

“When we later did the album, I recorded the music here in Stockholm and sent the riddims to him in Jamaica.”

The two also recently worked together in pair with Hawaiian-based label Jah Youth.

“Daweh Congo had recorded some a cappella’s which needed music. Jah Youth contacted me and I did the music,” he says, and continues:

“It was free tempo and was sung on a free key. His singing was surprisingly steady. It was a challenge, and I built the music from scratch,” he smiles.

Other possible collaborations
He would like to get the opportunity to work with Army from St. Croix or Keith from Keith & Tex.

“I’ve contacted Keith, but it hasn’t resulted in anything.”

He also gets inquiries from artists from time to time. But he turns down almost everything due to lack of time.

Detailed productions
And if you listen to his productions you will probably notice why. The songs are carefully crafted and detailed.

“Nobody produces on a detailed level anymore. I often out start very ambitious, and the Sheya Mission album took some time to finish,” he says, and adds:

“I often pay attention to details, but it starts to get a bit slack. I haven’t got the same craze anymore.”

Running a label these days isn’t easy. But according to Jonahgold it’s not all that bad.

“It has never been easy,” he states, and continues:

“But today it’s cheaper than ever to distribute an album and get it out all over the world. It’s a new world order, but I don’t know if it’s better or worse.”

Aside from producing his own music, Jonahgold is a freelance sound engineer, both live and in the studio.

“This is my school”, he says and looks up from his cup of tea.

“Tom [Hofwander aka Internal Dread] has taught me everything. I have been working with him for many years. He is a sound guru, and it has been a great school. He has a fantastic feeling for frequencies.”

Spirituality important
Jonahgold’s latest work is something in the dub poetry vein. He is into mysticism and has set sound to Mooji, an advaita vedanta teacher based in the UK.

“I like the spirituality in reggae music. I’m on a quest for freedom and self-knowledge. No aggression or depression. I want to be really free and distinguish between what has been taught and what is the real ‘I’,” he says, and concludes:

“I have advanced during the last ten years or so. Maybe it has made my music more soothing and meditative.”

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A real bliss from Sheya Mission

Sheya Mission is one of those mysterious artists that want to be anonymous. It’s however great that she is sharing her great music and voice to the world. But we probably won’t get the opportunity to catch her live.

Sheya Mission’s debut album Nine Signs & Heavy Bliss is produced by Swedish talent Jonahgold who took over the legendary Stockholm-based Rub a Dub studio from veteran producer and engineer Internal Dread.

Nine Signs & Heavy Bliss contains a potent 20 tracks, of which three are short skits. Some of these have been released as singles as far back as ten years. But the album sounds remarkably unified, and Sheya Mission’s deep, laid back voice suits the somewhat meditative mood very well.

Percussion is happily enough used on most of the tracks. So are sound effects. Jonahgold mixes in beatboxing, dub sirens, rain, police sirens and King Stitt styled vocal interjections.

The mood is mostly dark and autumn like, and I come to think of Berlin-based producers Rhythm and Sound when I hear tunes such as the electronic and almost industry-like Valley and Never Let Me Down.

But there is also the ska-tinged Going Down, the jolly and upbeat Reggae Music, which is a duet with Swedish deejay Leafnuts. And I really dig the use of Augustus “Gussie” Clarke 80’s synthesizers in Thanks.

Nine Signs & Heavy Bliss has taken some time to finish, but it was well worth the wait.

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Långsamt framåt med Fast Forward

Svenska producenter har gott rykte internationellt och många har gjort material för världsstjärnor. Bortom hitlistorna finns en skara välrenommerade svenska reggaeproducenter, som i det tysta spelat in material med flera kända namn. Reggaemani har pratat med Fast Forward, ett svenskt produktionsteam som arbetat med Everton Chambers.

Säg Anders Bagge, Leila Bagge och Andreas Carlsson och en hel nation nickar. Säg Denniz Pop, RedOne och Max Martin och några mumlar igenkännande. Men om du däremot nämner producenter och låtskrivare som Jonahgold, Fast Forward och Pleasure Beat blir de flesta till frågetecken.

Det är inte konstigt. De här namnen opererar utanför hitlistorna, men det betyder inte att de är okända. Pratar du med folk i reggaekretsar så ökar igenkänningsfaktorn betydligt.

Jonahgold har exempelvis producerat Daweh Congo och Pleasure Beat hade stora framgångar häromåret med Majestic riddim, där namn som Luciano och Lukie D medverkade.

Fast Forward har däremot inte fått lika mycket uppmärksamhet. Inte än i alla fall. Men att döma av deras Love My riddim så borde den stora publiken vara intresserad.

Långsamt framåt
Fast Forward startade som soundsystem för sju år sedan och är baserade i Stockholm. En av förgrundsfigurerna i teamet bakom Fast Forward är Björn-Olle Rylander.

− Vi startade som ett vanligt sound utan tanke på egen label. Spelade på klubbar, fixade dubplates och clashade lite. Under hela den tiden producerade vi eget material som användes på spelningar. För omkring ett eller två år sedan sen kände vi att vi hade tillräckligt bra material och kontakter med artister för att börja släppa egna grejer, säger Björn-Olle Rylander.

Populärt sound
Fast Forwards sound ligger i tiden, kanske inte i bemärkelsen modernt, utan snarare vad som är populärt i reggaekretsar just nu. Det handlar om 80-tals digitalreggae. De gyllene åren för den här typen av sound är 1985 och ett par år framåt. Den mest kända låten inom genren är utan tvekan milstolpen Under Me Sleng Teng med Wayne Smith.

En lite mer anonym artist från 80-talet som Fast Forward lyckades få fatt i till Love My riddim är Everton Chambers. Björn-Olle berättar hur de kom i kontakt med honom:

− Everton Chambers är en artist vi gillar väldigt mycket, men som i princip försvunnit från reggaescenen sedan 80-talet. Vi lyckades få tag på honom och det visade sig att han är trevlig snubbe som var sugen på att samarbeta.

Love My riddim medverkar även flera svenska artister, bland annat stjärnskottet Joey Fever. Björn-Olle berättar att de inte försöker vara nostalgiska när det gäller artistsamarbeten utan i första hand jobbar med nya, och gärna svenska, artister. Han tillägger dock att ett samarbete med Tony Tuff inte skulle vara fel.

Internationellt genomslag
Love My riddim har fått uppmärksamhet internationellt och singlarna säljs exempelvis hos brittiska Dub Vendor.

− Det är förstås väldigt roligt och lite av ett måste om man ska kunna sälja den här typen av musik utan att ruinera sig totalt. Vi har jobbat mycket på att hitta bra kontakter för att få ut skivan i framförallt Europa. Då är Everton Chambers ett bra dragplåster, men även Joey Fever som börjar bli riktigt känd i Europa, förklarar Björn-Olle.

Även om Fast Forward funnits sedan 2003 är de bara i början av producentkarriären. Björn-Olle berättar att de har mer på gång.

− Det kommer att komma mycket mer från oss. Vi är dock ganska perfektionistiskt lagda så varje produktion tar en hel del tid innan vi vill släppa ifrån oss något, säger Björn-Olle.

Om du är nyfiken på att höra hur Fast Forward låter så spelar de på Vielle Montagne på Söder Mälarstrand i Stockholm den 12 mars. Nya produktioner utlovas.

Sju snabba till Björn-Olle Rylander

Favoritartist?
Tony Tuff

Bästa skivbolag?
Anchor Records

Bästa reggaeplatta?
Rydim
med Sugar Minott

Favorit reggaegenre?
Digital

Bästa skivomslaget?
Pressure Man med Peter Culture

Bästa reggaeproducent?
Steely & Clevie, Augustus “Gussie” Clarke

Bästa rytm?
Tempo

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