Interview: Romain Virgo (2012)

November 11, 2012

Back in May when Penthouse prodigy Romain Virgo was publicising strong second album ‘The System’ he was forced to cancel a raft of press interviews. The reason: his friend Busy Signal had been extradited to face drug charges in the USA and the young singer was too broken up to answer questions on this or any subject.

Both men have links to Penthouse, whose sometime engineer (and fulltime producer-manager at his own Juke Boxx Productions) Shane Brown helmed Busy’s Reggae Music Again longplayer and a sizeable portion of ‘The System’. This year, these records have gone some way towards answering the claims that traditional one drop reggae is in trouble in Jamaica – which made Busy’s arrest, just as his album was getting rave reviews, all the more unfortunate.

Romain, who grew up in poverty with his mother as primary carer, shooting to fame via Digicel’s Rising Stars talent show, makes no secret of the familial bond he shares with older industry role models. These include Busy, Brown, Penthouse boss Donovan Germain, and Beres Hammond – with whom he embarked a well heralded tour of England this autumn.

With Busy potentially due for an early release in November, United Reggae had the chance to catch Romain in a Wembley hotel: literally minutes before he was about make a triumphant London debut on stage – and duet with Beres himself. Angus Taylor discovered that singing songs that strike a chord with people is the key…

Romain Virgo

You’ve been touring with Beres and Tarrus Riley in celebration of 50 years of independence. How does it feel to sing with Beres, who was alive when Jamaica was still a colony?

This is the way that I always wanted to come to England. I always said to people whenever I did interviews that, if I am coming to England for the first time, I would love to come with someone like Beres Hammond or Tarrus Riley. It’s like God answered a prayer to allow me to get the opportunity. The kind of fan-base that Beres has and the kind of fan-base that Tarrus Riley has – I do a similar kind of music to them so the whole vibe everywhere I go with them is just lovely, man. Beres Hammond is somebody that I grew up listening to. He is one of my favourite artists, so it’s amazing to share this moment ¬†and this whole experience with him and I look forward to more like this.

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