HOW HAS YOUR BACKGROUND AFFECTED YOUR LIFE/ WORK?
My relationship to Jamaica is ancestral, I have never been. My father, from that side I didn't meet until he was released from prison for international drug runs. The man I eventually meet at 16 was a beautiful artist, that’s who he was with me but I cannot deny or ignore the fact that he has severe mental health challenges. I’ve seen it play out with my own eyes, its frightening and the reason my mother had no choice but to escape him and ultimately the reason I decided not to pursue a relationship with him after we had met.
So I was raised by my white mother who ultimately couldn't handle and didn't know what to do with me and my blackness. I am geographically thankful to have grown up in Brixton, surrounded by other black and brown people where I went to predominately black schools and could begin to start to learn things about myself, but that didn't come without harsh lessons on colorism, leading to extreme violence and bullying which I later learned to understand as tool’s of the oppressor.
In infant school, when parties where thrown for Christmas or charity, dancehall music would be played and I would literally lose myself, I had felt the music like nothing else before.
Now, as an adult and secondly as a DJ I get to play these same songs to so many different audiences which is incredibly empowering because it wasn't so easy to access or enjoy or this style as child, for example I was caught a couple of times dancing in the mirror at home to some bashment and was punished for this with a beaten. I grew up in an environment where I was told “not to give black looks” or “not to talk black” I still don't know what that means and there are things about my childhood I will process for the rest of my life but I survived it, and music helps heal those wounds.
Photo: Dan Gutt