THE GLOBE CIRCLING DANCEHALL STAR IS FINALLY GETTING TO SPEAK TO ALL HIS FANS IN ONE VOICE.
Konshens is heavy as a lead weight. When he walks in you can feel the gravity in the room getting stronger like we’re suddenly on a bigger planet. The internationally popular dancehall star is 27, “on a good day,” yet acts much older. He’s business minded and keen of wit, yet severe of manner. During his interview with with MTV Iggy he keeps his mirrored shades on but makes eye contact. He can be charming in conversation too. He’s a dancehall guy after all. Still, there’s always a touch of dread. This is true of his music as well as his personality.
He might be in his twenties, but as someone who has been performing all over the world for the better part of a decade, Konshens has earned the right to speak like a grizzled veteran. No doubt it’s that gravity that has made him a globally sought after artist. (That, and he’s a great musician.)
He can calibrate his patois to be more or less intelligible to non-patois speakers. No doubt he’s learned to shift his communication style to connect with fans scattered across the continents. He has a big following in Europe and he’s performed in Kenya, Guyana and also Jamaica. But his live debut was actually in Japan, where his following is outsized. Many of his biggest fans don’t speak English, let alone Jamaican patois.
A professional and a performer above all, the singer tailors his message to his audience and he’s never had one release that was available to all of his supporters, until now. With the worldwide release of Mental Maintenance on his own Subkonshus Music he will be able to bring one single message to everyone at the same time. And what is his message? On the lead track, “World Citizen,” he sings “we all are one.”
How did you choose your name?
From childhood days growing up it was given to me by friends, whenever had any activity I’m always the person saying why and where and how. I put a reason behind every action, so that’s how I got my name Konshens.
How did you get started in music?
Hanging around the studio. Me always love music from day one and day zero, but professionally it started in 2005 when I went to Japan. Went there and did a one month tour, went back the following year and did another tour. And then me released an album and then me started taking things real serious.
How did they find you?
I don’t know, the Internet. Reggae has a huge following in Japan. So, I guess mine was one of those songs that just broke through. As simple as it sounds somebody said, “Hey, you sound big.” And we started getting dubplate requests. A dubplate is, you redo a song with the name of a DJ in it. So, it’s like an exclusive for the DJ. Yeah man, a whole lot of dubplate orders and then they requested a tour.
Did you think things were going to go very far when someone contacted you from Japan?
Yes. Definitely, because from a regular nine-to-five kid moving into a country that hardly speaks English and you get there and you see people celebrating that you’re there. And people’s cell phones are ringing and it’s your song. People that don’t speak English are singing word for word your song. And that’s just one area of the world.
What do you think it is about your music that people connected with so quickly all over the world?
I have no idea. What I focused on was just doing music. Being a hundred percent real; singing about real topics. It was after getting to Japan now I’ve seen the power of the music. That a song can be a big song without people even know who sing it. People still don’t know who Konshens is but some of the biggest songs are mine. The music is even bigger than the artist.
As far as a formula for my music and why my music. I don’t know. Me no try to find out. Just when you get there you see the love for the songs that we do this side of the world. Them take them like in school. Them study the music and research how to do it. Like, even what you asked me about my music, that’s what they trying to find out.
What’s a show like there?
Hands waving and lyrics. People just singing the lyrics and the melodies.
What’s the reggae scene like in Guyana?
I found that it was just like Jamaica where they were pretty much up to date and where they were heavy in dancehall. They knew everything that was hot what’s the next hot thing coming.
How are shows there?
It’s more a Jamaican vibe than a Japanese vibe. They speak English there so you know what they’re saying when a girl screams something at you. You know exactly what she’s saying, so the reaction from the crowd and then from me is different.
What’s it like coming home after all that running around?
Different. Because you adjust the show for each region and when you’re on the road constantly and you have a whole bunch of songs but you have only one or two songs that are huge in all the regions. But to put on a whole show you need more than three songs. And each region has their songs that they love. So, it really take a toll on your brain. You have to do market research and find out what the people love and set your show according to that.
Me come back to Jamaica now. [Drops deep into patois] Can you understand?
Credit MTV Iggy
Up until right before you stopped.
You have to talk like me a talk now. You can’t pretty it up, because this is the hardcore dancehall and reggae fans, you understand. You have to deliver in the hardcore dancehall style.
Is it sometimes hard to switch gears?
It is. It is very hard.
I would expect that coming home would feel more natural.
No. The first place that I performed was in Japan.
So, you had to learn how to connect with a Jamaican audience afterward?
On every level, yeah.
What feels most natural to you?
Right now, everything feels natural because I did it a whelp a times, so everything feels like normal.
So, you started your record label, how has that been going?
It’s been going good. A couple of popular songs from my label. I have been able to put out other artists. Even though I’m not all the way through the door, I’m still trying to pull some other artists through the door. I have more room to do my own work. From a production standpoint, I have more creative input.
Do you have distribution through larger labels?
Yes. Particularly, with the album we just did Mental Maintenance. It’s coming out worldwide and VP does the distribution so we still have the option to work with the larger companies.
Did you start the label just to release your own music or did you have a vision beyond that?
It started out as just loving to have control creatively. But then it moved into wanting to see the next artist to come up. To kind of guide artists to not make so many of the mistakes I made.
What do you want the label to be known for?
I don’t want it to be known for one particular thing. I like variety. So, if you have something that stands out whether it be you’re a good studio artist or you’re a good stage performer or you’re the entire package, something has to just stand out.
Credit MTV Iggy
How do you feel about Mental Maintenance now that it’s out?
Great. I feel like I have a load come off my back. You understand, it’s the first album of mine to come out internationally and I think it was long overdue. It’s been just three years since 2008 but the pace has been just really fast with my fanbase growing really fast as well, demanding the album.
It’s a way to finally speak to everyone at the same time.
Yes, everyone all at once. No confusion. No one message here and then another message there, just one thing.
I read that you took part in a peace march last year in a place called Torrington Park.
It was an effort to show the youth in that particular area that there is more to life than the violence and the crime that them see around them. So, they wanted to do a community facelift to get rid of the graffiti and put some of the more cultural things on the walls and fix up the community some more. I’m all for that.
How did you get involved?
Somebody just told me about it and I went. There was no big official meeting.
One of your most interesting songs to me is “This Means Money.” What made you write a dancehall song that’s basically about financial planning?
Real topics! I like to sing about things that people actually talk about. Dancehall has been kind of one track. You think about dancehall along the same line, when actually we sing about a whole lot of topics. My thing is, we don’t just sing about gangster things, we sing about things that make sense that we can reason about.
“Rasta Imposter” is another interesting one. What were you thinking about when you wrote it? Also, what is your personal connection to the Rastafarian movement?
Let me answer the second one first. I’m Jamaican and Rasta is from Jamaica. I think if you are a Jamaican, and if you do reggae and dancehall music, you don’t have to, but you should respect Rasta as not just a tool to get exposure. You grew up amongst Rastafarian people who take Rastafarianism very serious. So, it’s really a shame for you can use it as a mockery, or as a stepping stone if you’re not serious about it.
So, the song, the whole thought process wasn’t like, me no like Rasta or me a fight Rasta but if ya be a Rasta imposter im going to express that I am not pleased.
Is it ever complicated bringing your personal ideas and beliefs into dancehall? Is there a balance that you need to strike?
Keyword is balance. About the topics and the serious topics. I’m naturally that type of person, where when it’s time to be serious I’m very serious. Just as when it’s time to party, I’m be a idiot. I’m very much a fool. So, once you strike that balance in your life you no stress out yourself in the serious thing, just as well as you no take them for granted.
Source:- MTV IGGYTweet