Scratchylus and Empress Reggae: Resetting Mindsets

Across the Atlantic, reggae is a regular staple of the musical chart in the Caribbean. Yet Scratchylus has also found success in North America and the UK, building a healthy following who flock to see him at Notting Hill Carnival.

BHM met Scratchylus and fellow performer Empress Reggae ahead of the release of their upcoming album, Changes.

BHM: ‘Our Story’ has been chosen as the song for Black History Month 2015. How do you feel about that?
Scratchylus: First and foremost, thank you very much, Black History Month, for choosing this song. So it’s beautiful that the song is going to be put on Black History Month IN Black History Month and I’m very excited.

BHM: You have had success in Jamaica, North America and here in the UK. To what do you credit your success and what advice do you have for up and coming Black musicians?
Scratchylus: First and foremost I have to give credit and glory to the Almighty Jah Rastafari, for keep giving me strength, the wisdom, the knowhow and the humbleness to go through this journey. But I accredit it to the fact that all the music that we do is all live music. So my message to the musicians is to get back into the live music. Live music has an effect and it brings out the right frequency, it makes it more receptive. Live music means that your music will have longevity. Music you hear from a computer, comes on today and is forgotten about tomorrow

scrathulysAnother thing is to listen to ALL music. Don’t be narrow with your ‘mindset’. There is always something that influences a recording artist. Read books and biographies about recording artists. See what they have to go through, know their ins and outs. Find someone who really believes in you. If they don’t believe in you, you really have to believe in yourself and then you can go through.

BHM: You are also in the process of creating a university tour. What message do you have to bring to our 18-23-year-olds?
Sratchylus: Well, see, people don’t think before they act. If you think before you act you will save yourself a lot of stress in the future. Just think things through and about the outcomes. It’s like on a computer, you get a flowchart with probabilities. So think like a flowchart and try and make decisions that are advantageous to you. And do your best work. Especially if you are spending your mum and dad’s money to come to university, you best do your best work.

BHM: You have both performed at this year’s Notting Hill Carnival. Tell us what Notting Hill Carnival means to each of you as musicians and what it means to you as people of Jamaican heritage.
Empress Reggae: I’ve been going there since I was a baby really. Every time I go I get the reggae vibes. In England you don’t really get the Reggae vibes a lot and in Carnival you get Jamaican people bringing Jamaican culture and it makes a nice experience for me.

Scratchylus: Carnival is a chance for people to see Caribbean-style, food and music for the first time in their life if they don’t go on holiday. When Carnival comes around, you see everyone has a smile on their face. It’s the only time I see everyone happy. Carnival lifts their spirts. Everyone gets along at Carnival.

As a performer, Carnival is the first time people will experience mine and Empress Reggae’s music first hand.

BHM: What has the reception been like having Empress Reggae perform with you?
Scratchylus: The reception has been overwhelmingly positive. I get people come up to me and say ‘I love what you are doing with your daughter. Keep it going!’ As far as my daughter is concerned, she is learning as we go. Sometimes we get shouted at really harshly when we are recording, but sometimes it’s just the way it is.

BHM: Empress Reggae, you have performed alongside Marcia Griffiths and at events such as Redbones International Women’s Day. Where do you see your career in ten years’ time?
Empress Reggae: Well, when I get older I want to be a teacher. A lot of people ask me, ‘How can you teach and do your music at the same time?’ I just tell people I want to teach my music in schools, I want to teach my music in universities.

BHM: Are you working on any upcoming albums to accompany your first lbum ‘Reset The Mindset’?

Scratchylus: We have a new compilation coming out called Changes and it should come out in November.

Scratchylus is currently planning a university tour. The upcoming schedule and links to his first album, Reset The Mindset, can be found on his website http://scratchylusrhymes.com/.

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