Tippa Irie & Marco Baresi (Far East Band) Interview

‘Stick To My Roots’ – Mr Irie strikes back!

Tippa Irie presents his new album “Stick To My Roots” – one of his best in a career lasting more than 25 years now! – live with the new Far East Band at ReggaeJam, Bersenbrück 2010. As we just released the brandnew 7” Tippa Irie – Happy with dub mastermind Dubmatix and Aldubb on Irie Ites Music, we met Tippa and drummer Marco Baresi after their brilliant show at ReggaeJam…


OLLI: Irie Ites with Tippa Irie and Marco Baresi from Far East Band! How are you doing? How was the show for you today here at ReggaeJam?

TIPPA IRIE: Well, the people received us well, so for me inside right now it`s a good feeling, I´m happy! We worked very hard to put the show together, to rehearse, to make sure that it was tight.
And from the response from the audience I believe they enjoyed it. And we enjoyed it, so it`s a blessing, you know, we`re happy that we come together to work together on the new album and hopefully we gonna be doing much more shows together.


OLLI: So, it was the first show together today?

TIPPA IRIE: No, it`s the second show together- live. We did a festival in Holland called ReggaeFer, that was the first show. So it was kind a like testing the water, but now we`re more tight and more together, so it was a blessing to do that today at ReggaeJam.


OLLI: You just released your new album “Stick To My Roots”. How did it come? Did you feel like `I got to stick to my roots`?

TIPPA IRIE: Well, to me, quite honest, Marco send me two tunes. One was “Stick To My Roots” and one was “Deh Side Me”. And those were the first two songs that I wrote.
And, you know, when I heared the riddim track that he produced, the first thing that came into my head was “Stick To My Roots”. So I wrote the song, I sent it to him, he loved it, and then we said “well, we need to do a whole album”, you know, and that`s how it came about.


OLLI: Wie kamst du darauf? Wie ist der Kontakt zwischen euch zustande gekommen?

MARCO BARESI: Ich bin ja schon seit Langem ein großer Fan von ihm, seit ich vierzehn war, oder so, hatte ich sein erstes Album damals in Ungarn noch gekauft. Und, keine Ahnung, wir haben uns irgendwann auf der Tour getroffen mit Gentleman, da war er ein paar Mal mit auf der Bühne, spontan in Montreux und so, kann ich mich erinnern. Und dann kam`s nach und nach.
Wir haben unser erstes Album gemacht mit der Far East Band, da war er auch mit drauf schon. Und weil der Kontakt direkt schon da war, lange Jahre ist er befreundet mit Tilmann (Gentleman; Anm. d. Red.) und seinem Manager Stephan und da war`s irgendwann klar, ok als nächstes machen wir mal was zusammen und dann gehen wir mal auf Tour und dann kucken wir mal wie das so is`.
Ja, und jetzt ist das Ergebnis da und ich bin also schon n` bisschen stolz drauf und freue mich auf die nächsten Shows.


OLLI: I just listened the album and it`s really your best I think. Your roots are in England. How was growing up there? With sound, you started on Saxon Sound…

TIPPA IRIE: Well, my father had a sound, you know what I mean, so when you are growing up around the music, you know, I listened to U-Roy, Big Youth, Dillinger, Trinity, Tappa Zukie, Michigan and Smiley, people like that.
And my father used to play those guys to me, so, he also used to rent the basement of our house to bands. So, when I was a little boy I used to just be sitt´n there watchin`, you know, bands like “The Real Thing” which were like funk bands. They used to rehearse in my dads basement. So I used to just sitt`n there and, you know, just watch them perform and learn, yeah catching the vibes.
And I just continued and ehm I went on to King Tubby`s sound cause my cousin was good friends with King Tubby`s sound that was based in London. And I went to their dances, I did well, so they asked me to join their sound.
Then I started to enter talent-competitions, win talent-competitions. And Dennis Rowe and Musclehead, a guy called Lloyd Francis that own Saxon, they was out one of the talent-competitions, so they asked me to come and perform on Saxon. So I said ‘ok’, and when I went there I met Maxi Priest, Papa Levy, all these guys. And I just continued to work with them, you know.
And then it just grew, record labels became interested; like Greensleeves, Fashion, Virgin, Island, all these labels they bacame interested in all the Saxon crew and all of the artists. Then I just started to record from there.
But when I was 17 I made my first song- first release, but it was a called Celluloid which was a guy that had a soundsystem in London. He saw my talent and so he took me to the studio and Drummie Zeb from Aswad, they produced my first ever single. So that was a blessing for me to work with Aswad on my first track.
And so I just did that and then just continued and just started to do shows up and down the country. Then the album, my first album was ‘Is It Really Happening To Me’ from Greensleeves and then it started to circulate. Then I got my opportunity to go abroad and do tours and do shows, so that`s kind of how it started for me.


OLLI: So, after all these years, how do you experience the development of reggae-music?

TIPPA IRIE: Well, it varies, you know, because it`s ‘different strokes for different folks’. I mean, some people love Movado, some people like Vibez Kartell, and some of it I like – some of it I don`t like, you know what I mean. I love Morgan Heritage, I love Sizzla, I love Capleton, I love Burning Spear, Steel Pulse – it`s different genres of reggae.
In the UK there`s people like Peter Hunnigle, Lloyd Brown, all these guys that make lovers rock music, but they also make roots music – that`s good.
So, it`s just a matter of opinion and individuals and what you like and what you don`t like. But for me it`s music. I make music, I enjoy music, whether it`s reggae or hip hop, I like soul, I like jazz, you know what I mean, it dependend on my mood. Obviously I´m a reggae-fanatic!
I have a radio show, I play the music, I present the music, I´m a performer, I have a studio, I hopefully have a lot of artists that I´m working with, young artists. So it`s my life, completely, my life is reggae music! All day, every day! And if I´m not… you know if I´m sick I still somehow I have to go to the studio for somebody is phoning. So, that`s how it is for me. I love the music.


OLLI: We just have the 7’’ with Dubmatix from Canada who`s a dub producer. In England dub is very big…

TIPPA IRIE: Yes, you got obvious people like Mad Professor, you know, and there`s other guys that are doing the dub music for there`s dubstep now. And, you know, obviously it`s pretty close to drum`n`bass and whatever, but I played at this place called the ‘fabric’ in the UK and I did a dub line there and it`s like pretty much dubstep and dub. It´s a big scene, a good scene, it`s good music!

 Tippa Irie jingle for Irie Ites

OLLI: So, perhaps we can expect some dub things from Tippa Irie?

TIPPA IRIE: Why not, you know what I mean, for me now this is all about ‘Stick To My Roots’ right now… (laughing)


TOPPA: Actually, you released a tune with ‘The Bug’…

TIPPA IRIE: Yeah, ‘Angry’!


TOPPA: It was a very nice combination, so what we gonna get in the future? This kind of combination? Because it kind of different electronic style, experimental…

TIPPA IRIE: Well, I mean, for me it`s like I said – it`s music!
So, from somebody comes to me with a track – it might not be my cup of tea – but I know they know where they wanna put their music, so, nine times out of ten from my feeling I can write something, something comes, so I just write, do I feel. And nine times out of ten the producer likes it and then I let them do their thing, you know.
‘Stick To My Roots’ was me and Marcos` baby, so we took our time and we did it how we feel. But I listened to this guy, `cause he knows how it should sound. My job is to write the songs, deliver a good performance and then I give it to the producer and let him do for he`s good at which is mixing, engineering and how the whole thing should be completed. So I let him do his thing and then he says ‘Tip, do you like it?’ and most of the time I´m like ‘Yeah!’ you know what I mean. And it works! So that`s how we do it.


TOPPA: Actually Dubmatix just released a new album with your tune what we split out on 7’’ on our label. How was the working with Jesse?

TIPPA IRIE: Yeah, for me he`s cool! It`s the same thing, the same principle. He was happy with what I delivered.
So, I produced the Ragga  Twins – I believe they are on the album, too – and they came to my studio, so we recorded the vocals with them at my studio and I did my vocals and sent it back to them. They told me what they want, which was like oldschool dancehall with a bit of speed rapin`, so that`s what I did. And they were happy, you know. I aim to please and if I do it and they are happy with it, then I go with it.


OLLI: Du bist mittlerweile der ‘große Mann’ im Hintergrund was das Album zum Beispiel betrifft. Wie ist eigentlich dein musikalischer Werdegang?

MARCO BARESI: Boah! Äh, also das fing an in den 80ern schon.
`86 oder so hatte ich mit meinem Bruder die erste Band, die hieß Michele Baresi, daher stammt auch Marco Baresi. Und die hatte ich 10 Jahre lang bis `96. Danach hab` ich in verschiedenen anderen Bands gespielt bis es plötzlich in Leipzig dann hieß ‚die erste Reggae-Band soll gegründet werden’. Und das geschah dann irgendwie `97.
Und dann fingen wir an mit den ersten existierenden Reggae-Artists in Deutschland sozusagen zu spielen. Wovon es jetzt nicht wirklich viele gab. Ich kann mich noch an Tolga erinnern, Mighty Tolga. Messer Banzani, Cousins aus Leipzig natürlich zuerst. Und dann fingen auch schon Natty Flo und Nosliw an und Nikitamann & Mono irgendwie Ende der 90er Anfang 2000.
Und dann fingen 2000 dann schon die ersten jamaikanischen Artists an, wie Degree, Chico glaub` ich, ähm Sean Paul hatten wir dann, als er glaub` ich seine ersten Europa-Konzerte gemacht hat hier mit drei Shows begleitet – war super!
Und dann 2002 fing`s schon mit Gentleman an. Da haben wir dann so zwischendurch immer noch hier und da mit der Far East Band andere Artists gebacked, aber so richtig viel kamen wir nicht dazu. Und dann haben wir eben mit der Far East Band die ganzen Jahre mit Gentleman zusammengespielt.
Und Ende letzten Jahres kam`s zu so `nem kleinen Splitting und so, weil speziell zwischen ihm und mir waren `ne Reihe Meinungsverschiedenheiten uns so weiter. Da war`s dann irgendwann so, dass wir beide gesagt haben ‚Komm, lass mal was Neues checken jeweils!’ Und so kam`s dann auch und is` eigentlich auch alles cool soweit. Die Jungs sind happy und wir mit unserem Projekt und verschiedenen anderen Sachen, die wir noch machen is` auch alles cool. Insofern, glaub` ich konnten alle nur gewinnen dadurch.


OLLI: Dann weiter positiv nach vorne! Vielen Dank für das Interview, give thanks for the interview!

TIPPA: Jaman, respect, respect and Big Up Irie Ites!

Interview: Olli Becker & Tobias Wirtz (07/2010)





About Coltjah

roots & dub selector, filmmaker & photographer, interviews & live reviews