Bedouin Soundclash - Interview
Contactmusic.com spoke to Jay Malinowski, the vocalist/guitarist/songwriter from the band Bedouin Soundclash.
How are you doing?
I'm doing great thanks, we have been doing a lot of promotion for the album recently. We've been on tour around the states, Canada and over here in the UK for the past 3 months or so. We were over here doing some shows last August so that was cool.
How have we been treating you over here in the UK?
Everyone seems to be very kind to us at the moment; well at least it feels that way!! A lot of people also seem to be into what we are doing at the moment so it's been a very positive reaction. In Canada and US we keep on being told that our music has turned into "the peoples" summer soundtrack, we never really looked at our songs like that but now, I guess it does make sense. I guess anything to do with reggae will always turn into a summer jam kind of thing.
I think most reggae music is quite visual, you always have that mental picture of a beach and sun in your head when you listen to it. Do you mind that?
No I don't mind it. What I really love about reggae doesn't really have anything to do with that kind of side though. I like the fact that people can listen to reggae and enjoy it but sometimes when people only appreciate it for that one mental picture I think it depoliticises it and almost devalues it. It almost turns it into cruise boat anthems. Sorry I did take that question to the extreme!! I don't often feel like that, in all honesty we are just happy that people do like our music and that we can make music that connects to many people.
So could life be any better?
Ha ha, I don't think so. As long as we keep doing something that we are happy doing and feel it has integrity then no I don't think it could get much better!!
How long have you guys been making music together for?
It's been 4 years now. We were at university and I met Eon who plays bass in the band he lived across the hall way from me. We started to trade records and we both really liked reggae, we had a meeting for reggae and we both come together over it. We then met Pat and he had a tape of ours and he thought what we were doing was really cool. We were making music out of old records, we tried to make something new and contemporary out of something that had been forgotten on the radio. Our goal was never really to make anything other than something for ourselves but when Pat heard the tape he started playing with us and he sounded really good. He had been doing a lot of Jazz drumming before that. After we formed the lineup, we just started going on this learning process of taking music and trying to adapt and do something different with it. And that took us to where we are now.
Did you start out with the prior ideas about trying to make it with the band or was it more of just a group of friends getting together recording music they all like?
No that's exactly what it was. Just a group of friends recording who had similar ideas and found an outlet, it wasn't one of those things where you put up an advert asking for a bassist or anything like that. We were friends. I didn't even know Eon played bass! I just saw him one day and then we started jamming. I never really liked the idea of being in a band. I always thought they were pretty cheesy, quite uninspired, other than bands like the clash that are long gone. I started to like a lot of electronic music where there aren't any faces.
Where did you first get a record deal, in Canada?
Well we put out a record ourselves. We spent $300 and that was all the money we had, we recorded it in a day it was 10 songs in a day. We put it out for our friends and just for us really. We sold a few thousand copies just within our scene, after shows and such. A guy from Montréal heard it and he asked us if we wanted to put in out on his label 'stomp records' and we did!! After that everything just started to fall into place. That was back in 2002.
How many singles have you had out in Canada?
Just this one. It's quite crazy, it was released like 6 months ago but things are only just starting to take off. The single has just been in the top 20 so it's kinda taken its time. The UK started to pick up on the single through Mike Davies. He used to play it on his BBC show 'The Lock Up'. Hopefully we will feel successful with what we have done whether the single does well or not.
You have a true reggae sound about your music, have you found you have received much/if any criticism from people trying to label you as something you're not?
Yeah there are always people who think like that. I always relate it to people who don't know about music, they seem to always be the first ones who say "no; you can't do that". I've always found that people who have a true love for that music are interested in seeing something different happen. I think we have a definite direction in reggae but I don't think that is our entire sound. I think we do something different, I think any one who listens to reggae can hear where we are coming from but see that we are not a straight down the line reggae band. I think it's pretty ignorant for people to think like that really. I find it quite racist too because it is always white people who say it to me. maybe I'm taking it the wrong way but how I see it is they are saying that I'm white and I shouldn't be playing reggae, basically they are trying to call me a racist for playing this type music. Again it's a really extreme way of looking at the situation but ultimately that is how it feels for me. I know it all originates from experiences and situations that I can't understand but I hear the music and I hear something of my own in it. We are still going to make the music we like and if people want to think like that then it is fine. It's not going to effect what we do.
Tell me about the album
It's quite an exploratory record really. We do have quite a distinct sound. We aren't one of those bands who bring out one reggae sounding record and then don't follow the sound through the album. Reggae is our base in music. I think for a fan of reggae who wants to perhaps hear something slightly different then they will really enjoy it. At the end of the day, I think it is music that can speak to everyone. You don't have to be a particular fan of 2tone, punk or reggae to hear something of your own on it.
How long did you take to create it? Was it quite a quick process or was it done over a few years?
Well we actually recorded over 6 days. That's really quick but because we only spent a day recording the last one we thought it was a really longtime!! We are used to just putting a mic in a room and recording whatever happens. We are based on our live show and we base ourselves on being able to play wherever. We don't use any overdubs, it's just the bands raw sound.
So, the stage is the place for you to be?
Definitely!! We are desperate to do some more shows in the UK. We are doing some dates with the Ordinary Boys shortly. I can't wait to show people that our sound goes so much deeper than just the one single we have had out.
You're adoration for music is obviously huge! What else are you really passionate about?
Artwork, I love painting. I haven't had enough time to do any since we went on tour but I do miss it.
What's Next for you guys?
We have this tour with The Ordinary Boys then we go back to the states In November and we then start on a headline tour of Canada. I think we are coming back over to the UK again at the beginning of January.
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