Photo by Shelly Chadburn/courtesy Jus Bus
These excerpts are from an interview with A & B music producer Jus Bus who’s worked on projects for Jah Cure, Snoop Dogg (or Lion), Kes, and others. I decided to share this because I thought some of his realities gave an honest perspective on the realities of being an artiste anywhere, much less the Caribbean.
Me: How do most of your collaborations come about?
Jus Bus: Networking mostly; online or meeting artists and artist management when they are on island or I am overseas. Several different things. Sometimes, I’ll send beats or instrumentals to DJ’s, A&R’s & Label executives and they will then get placed on projects. Before I even met Jah Cure, I got an instrumental placed on his last album project “World Cry” through a friend named DJ Genie; he got the beat to (the) label and then Jah Cure wrote to it then Jazmine Sullivan got the unfinished version with Jah Cure’s vocals on it and then she recorded on it then that colaboration came to fruitation that way and I never met any of them at that time. (I) still don’t know jazmine sullivan other then maybe a retweet of the song on twitter. The same with the Snoop Lion (Snoop Dogg) placement. I produced a beat years ago then had Supa Dups add instruments to it, then it got placed on a 50 cent project and apparently, as far as I know, he even went as far as recording on it but never released it. So after a year, the track got placed on Snoop Lion’s Reincarnation album project that was spearheaded by Diplo from Major Lazer and RCA records. Then Diplo recorded Snoop on the beat and Collie Buddz – both whom I dont know – and that record came about like that. Sometimes, it’s a joint effort of producers working together so I’ll make the instrumental then another producer will come in and record an artist or add extra music to my arrangement and then we all break down the credits accordingly. So for the Snoop (project), it was Me, Supa Dups & Diplo together for that song; a beat I made 4 years prior to project. The head of RCA records had called me up and worked all the buisness side of things out with me just before the album was released which is how I found out Snoop Dogg even recorded on my beat. But thats how it works sometimes. You send a series of instrumentals to label executives and they end up on different projects, then you eventually get contacted to finish them or to seal up business ends. Now for the Gyal Season riddim, it’s a little easier cause I worked with ZJ Bambino for that one and I did most of the instrumental work while he would be in Jamaica recording all the artists, some of which knew me and some of which knew him and I would take care of recording artists in Antigua. Over time, through these musical collaborations, you eventually meet the artists in person when they come to do shows or when I venture off island. Jah Cure and Busy Signal were here for the last Labour day show and we all ended up in the studio vibing on music together with LoqiQ Pryce and other members of Busy Signal & Jah Cure’s Camp. It’s just a matter of consistency really and using any and every outlet yiou can to make the music. My dream scernarios are always working with the artists live but that isn’t always possible for geographical reasons or finances so you gotta use the technology posisble to make it happen and stay consistent.
Me: Who’s your favourite type of artiste to work with or who has been your favourite artiste to work with?
JB: Who or what? Dont have a “who” really cause I have yet to work with a lot of people I wanna work with but the type of artists and musicans I love to work with are passionate and serious people that ain’t afraid to experiment and dig deep into the musical potential they have. I always have fun working with my team including Drastic & LogiQ Pryce as well as Torsten Stenzel & ZJ Bambino cause they are very sharp and full of ideas always. working with Jah Cure in person is always great to cause he is an extremely passionate vocalist and ready to experiment outside his comfort zone. Me and him even recorded a song duet together called “Kings” that may come to light in 2014 as me and Lawson Lewis have been in talks to shoot a video for the song. but I have worked with so many amazing musicans over the last 10 years that ain’t even mainstream acts, from guitarists to song writers and producers. so I’m grateful.
Me: How do you produce?
JB: I produce mainly using 2 studio monitors, a midi keyboard, and a laptop, which people end up being suprised (by) especially considering the calibre of music that I can push out. I also collaborate with live instrumentalists that range from horn players to guitarists to bass players and keyboardists and even violinists. I dont limit myself cause I try to keep a balance between an organic and analog sound mixed with a digital sound. I believe in making music that taps into people’s emotions and feelings and I feel it’s more effective when you add real players of instruments. I mean, I play keyboards too but only to a certain degree and I need diversity in my productions. I cant be biased and play everything myself. For final stages of production, I usually involve mixing engineers to help me with the final mixes. If I don’t end up doing it myself just to make sure sonically everything sounds right. Other then that, I just dig in and get creative. A lot of the stuff I make starts out with me alone in a corner for hours tweaking sounds and drums then I start
involving other creative people if needed.
Me: Of the forthcoming projects, what are you most looking forward to?
JB: I’m looking foward to everything creative & musical. I can’t even tell the future really and you can’t jump the gun in this game or you’ll shoot your foot off cause one minute you’ll have someone on your track then the next they pull out or push it to the side and you gotta figure something new out. At (the) moment, I’m still finishing up half finished ideas with Jah Cure, Nyla of Brick and Lace and Kes the Band which will eventually come out once we make sure everything sounds great but I don’t wanna jinxx myself so it is what it is when it happens. I love my job so I just stay consistent and pray for the best.
Me: Do you feel you’ve reached the epitome of creative and professional success? And if so, how do you define it: money, output, creating something special and enduring, all of the above, what?
JB: I’m far from reaching the peak of everything. I don’t even think I’m tipping the iceberg as they say yet and I been in this game for over 9 years and counting. I’m only now, this year, gaining some momentum with the high profile collaborations I’ve managed to gain under my belt. So I’d say I have a big toe in the door but nothing more. Still a lot of hard work, hours, and time need to be invested. It’s an ongoing battle even getting a placement ’cause a lot of the markets are oversaturated with producers who think ’cause they can loop a few melodies in fruity loops they are a producer. It takes a lot more to guide a project together. You need to be a leader not just someone who will make a beat and expect it to just magically appear on a project. Now I still struggle with making a living out of music but that’s the choice I made career wise, I already knew what I was getting myself into. So once I stay watering my trees I will eventually be able to bare the fruit that manifests from these trees. Now these metaphorcal fruit I speak of isn’t just monetary or finacial stability but something to be proud of, something that will inspire people mentally and emotionally. I honestly wanna leave a legacy of music and creativity for our island and the world that will live forever. But if I just make disposable material, then it will fade away and won’t stand the test of time and I dont want that. I mean, if thats what you wanna do to gain quick material wealth then that’s your choice but I want people to aspire to something greater ’cause yuh cyant dead with di money, you know. Live for now. I know a lot of musicians that don’t see hope in a music career and become miserable and get stuck in a shit pool of monotony just cause they seek only money, which is sad. ‘Cause I appreciate my material and works more through the struggle, and it makes me work even harder. There have been times when I’ve wanted to just give up and call it quits but then how would that look to the many youths that look up to what me and my friends are doing? And just when I think it can’t get any worse, Sony Records will call up and say ‘yeh, remember that placement you submitted 6 months ago? Well, yeh, we need you to sign the contracts’ and it lifts you out the dark frame of mind you’re in cause then you’re like, well maybe this can work if I dedicate the time I need to get it done. This music thing isn’t for the impatient, I’ll tell you that. You gotta be very, very patient and just work constantly and it all starts to come toegther. ‘Cause who knows, maybe I wont reach the exact level of success I want to be on but I sure will fight and die trying to get there. Maybe a generation later on this island, what me and many other people are doing here will resonate and start up a whole new revenue stream from different genres of music other than soca and calypso. And I believe when a majority of our society can see food on their plate from money made from different genres of music and creativity, then (is) when they (will) be serious and genuinely support it. And not just speak about support but act out support on a pysical level and get more involved. Which will propel everything so much more. Really honestly though, it’s bigger then just me. I mean music and creativity is my escape and therapy to life’s hardships and life’s beauty but all this is a bigger, and I believe we are all connected and we each have a job on earth guided by a higher power. As they say, “Jah Nah Sleep!” So, if i can inspire through creativity and music sign me up cause at the end of the day that goes way further in the long run than my own personal wealth. As for the question of the peak of creative success, I doubt that will ever stop. I tap into my potential every day and ever year. I mean I’m doing things such as singing and photography that I’d never think I’d ever be doing and now I’m doing it because with a little guidance and a belief in yourself you can do anything you want. I started out breakdancing in high school here at school events and fashion shows then went onto being in a sound system and lifting speaker boxes and learning how to mix on turntables with Irish of Renegade Sound. I even used to save up 10ec every week to go get a brand new 45 record at the record store to contribute to sound. I then went on to self teach graphic design & music production by trial and error and tips from different people in those fields. I don’t recomend dropping out of high school in 4th form like I did ’cause I think that with the right schooling at a college and
university would have got me further quicker. But I do think that if you dont have those options, you can easily put your mind to anything and get it done. The info is all around if you seek it. I also have a little advice for the parents: if your child has a set talent or skill and is in love with the idea of one day making a career out of it, show your support and help guide your child into it with the help of education. Don’t shoot their dreams down. It’s important that
you help them to be their own individual and just cause you may or may have not got to do what you wanted, don’t force them to be something they don’t wanna be.
Photo by Shelly Chadburn/courtesy Jus Bus
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