Interview: Richie Spice (2012)

November 11, 2012

Unless you’re a complete sound system addict with no interest in longplaying releases it won’t have escaped your attention that an unusually high number of Jamaican reggae artists have turned to acoustic projects in 2012. It’s no coincidence that these revisits to the limitations of the first recorded Jamaican music have seen the light of day as Jamaica celebrates 5 decades of independence. Nor would it be fanciful to see this as part of a wider trend towards older reggae forms in the last few years (against a backdrop of industry establishment fears that dancehall may not fully represent the island’s heritage).

The latest exponent of the acoustic record is one of the past decade’s most consistent cultural vocalists, Richie Spice. Like Clinton Fearon, Tarrus Riley and Toots Hibbert before him, the broken toned singer has used his effort, ‘Soothing Sounds’, released on Tad’s Records, to rework his back catalogue in a fashion that suits the heartfelt simplicity of his lyrics and voice.

As United Reggae has found in the past, Richie Spice is not the easiest person to interview. This is not because he is in any way difficult or uncooperative but because he is a man of deeds – who sets no great stock in talking about a job already done. Where many reggae artists request validation and assent from foreign interviewers asking “You understand?” with each point made, Mr Spice tends to take any nod or sound of agreement to mean his interrogator is satisfied with his answer and no further words are required!

Nonetheless, Richie was generous in granting Angus Taylor some choice sentences on his new direction, his diverse musical interests from country & western to the music of Africa and his memories of his mother, Violet Bonner, who sadly passed away this year…

Richie Spice

How did you have the idea to do an acoustic album?

The idea has always been in my mind for this to play more of a role in my music. I really thought about it over a period of time before I brought it to manifestation. At times people come to me and say “What did you say in this song?” or “What did you say at that part?” so I tried to break down the music on a lower beat and a clearer vibe that means people can really overstand – or understand – what I’m saying more clearly.

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