HOW HAS YOUR BACKGROUND AFFECTED YOUR LIFE/ WORK?
I grew up in Queens, NY with my Jamaican mother. Outside the apartment was America but inside my house was Jamaica. I grew up listening to ska, old school reggae/dancehall and gospel music. The only American music I'd hear in the house was pop music like Celine Dion and Cyndie Lauper because Jamaicans have a huge affinity to pop ballads. In the 90's and early 2000's a lot of amazing R&B, Hip-Hop/Rap songs with dance themes with real lyricism shaped my world outside of the home. Music and dance was a part of my everyday routine. My mother would sing and dance all the time and everywhere. I got it from my Mama. Jamaican Patios is a dialect of English that has some core foundation but a lot of it is based on improv, creativity, energy, and liveliness. From home to family gatherings to church everything was lively and raw. Everything Jamaicans do is a show and not for an audience, it's a natural poetry built into our bodies. One thing that did trouble me was the homophobic bit of the culture. I would sing and dance songs like T.O.K.'s "Chi Chi Man" & Buju Banton's "Boom Bye Bye" because the rhythm would catch me and the songs were melodic but the words spoke against the Queer community that I am apart of. That is the only thing I would change about Jamaican culture. My Caribbean upbringing shaped my life and work with feeding me the necessary improvisational talent it takes to navigate on earth, with earth, other people, my ancestors, and to create.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU (UPCOMING PROJECTS)?
I am working on an EP for this spring and will be featured Posture Magazine's first print this coming Spring/Summer.
Photo: Dan Gutt