Anthony Senior is the founder of Al.Ta.Fa.An Records – main producer of Luciano’s latest album Qabalah Man.
Reggaeville met up with Senior at Luciano’s house in Kingston to tell us his story.
How did you get into producing?
I started out by sitting at a studio named 321 Strong. I had just left the army as a wandering sheep who didn’t know where to turn. I was living near 321 Strong which was built by Buju with Syl Gordon and there was a brethren there named Cedrica Soljie Hamilton who used to come in with Dean Fraser and the Daffodils to build rhythms with Firehouse Crew. Because I was sitting there with Soljie Hamilton who was a nice person and would say “Hey bwoy, come go a shop” and because I was still a young youth I used to go to the shop for him. He said “What you doing sitting under the tree every day? Here is a track” – this was when we had the reels and he gave us two 24 tracks with rhythms on them. That was the beginning of all things Al.Ta.Fa.An.
Where does the name Al.Ta.Fa.An come from?
It came from me having some brethrens who would sit in the studio so we started out saying “Come let’s do something with this thing Souljie gave us. There was one named Taffari who was the singer, me named Anthony, you had Fabian and you had the engineer that was in the studio named Al Graham. So we just took the names of the first part of them – Al – A L – Tafari – T A – Fabian – F A – Anthony – A N – and I just put it together and made Al.Ta.Fa.An. But they fell along the way because they didn’t believe in the programme! (laughs)
You often use Firehouse Crew as your band. But your rhythms sound different from George Dusty Miller’s productions.
Well Soljie always told me – what I do is I use the artists. I don’t just say “I want a rhythm”. I listen to the artists’ song and I say I need a rhythm to build to this song. Sometimes it turns out to be a selection and sometimes it just turns out to be a single song but I don’t just go into the studio and say “Give me a riddim” I say “This is a song”. You have to write a song for me like Daddy Rings writes a song and Gentleman and Mark Wonder, Lutan Fyah or Luci himself and we go build it to the song. So most of the time we get a different sound although we use the same band at times but it is the keys and chords coming off of the artists really.
They say there is a roots revival in Jamaica but you have been making roots reggae for years.
Yeah, but no one is seeing it. What is happening now is a roots revival in brain not in the music. Because I read something about an artist saying “How can it be a revival when it wasn’t dead?” So it’s a meditational revival – it’s not the revival of the music itself in my view. It’s the minds of the people. As Luci says, the people have degraded the music. I say it is not music – because music is to educate and entertain. Some of these dancehall songs where they call themselves for the devil you can’t dance to and you can’t listen to – it is not entertaining and it’s not educational.