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Interview: ReggaeChapter meets BERES HAMMOND

BERES HAMMOND hits the road this week with fellow Jamaican music legend BUNNY WAILER for a series of live concerts around the UK.

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ReggaeChapter.com caught up with the soulful singer to find out about his musical journey, his rejection of ‘process’ and his relaxed, old school approach to making beautiful music.

HAMMOND has touched people around the world with his music and continues to bring a lot of joy with his live performances. When it comes to the upcoming UK tour, the Jamaican singer said fans can expect an extension of what he has done before.

“It has to be beautiful. I’ve tried through the years to stay positive and always maintain my qualities. I don’t think anything has fallen from that. So it has to be good,” Hammond said. “Remember for me it’s not much to do with money, I mean one has to be paid, but at the same time one has to maintain quality because lots of young folks are looking at you and at the same time you have to maintain the fabric that you grew up in.”

On the unusual pairing with BUNNY WAILER for this tour, HAMMOND said he was very happy and proud to know that they were on the same bill.

“It’s a beautiful thing,” he said. “There’s going to be some beautiful evenings man, I personally don’t want to miss it!”

On stage HAMMOND and his band are about as tight as they come, but when it comes to his approach to performing, spontaneity is the order of the day.

The singer works with the crowd and feeds off their energy. He admitted that he doesn’t really know what material to feed the audience until he actually sees them.

“For me I always tend to see people as family. So when people come to these concerts I don’t see them as just fans, I see them as my family, my extended family,” he said. “So families tell families the truth about what they want, and who and what they want to hear. I adhere to it you know. Yeah man, we have fun.”

Hot on the heels of his most recent single “Jamaica International Dance” HAMMOND confirmed that his new musical project, following on from One Love, One Life, will be out before the end of the year.

But when it comes to making new records, he doesn’t follow a process.

“I don’t use a ‘process’, I just use my vibes,” he said. 

“I’ve never sat down and written a song, I’ve never done that before. I just wait and see and I vibe and whatever comes to mind, I just try to keep it positive. I’m happy and surprised sometimes when I hear the end result of my thoughts. It’s beautiful sometimes, a lot of times it’s beautiful. I don’t use a process,” he repeated.

HAMMOND added that he was an organic kind of person and that’s the way he likes to keep it.

“I’m not much into technology. No disrespect to nothing else, but that’s not Beres. For now I’ll stick to my old kind of traditional way of doing things. It’s always worked. If it’s not broken, no need to mend it, eh?”

On using technology in the studio and on stage, HAMMOND continued: “One has to embrace anything that’s new if you want to survive in this world, but if I don’t have to, I don’t.” 

He continued: “I just love real things – real song, real food, real everything, real woman. You understand, real people, that’s what I like: real. Whatever is new if I have to live I live with it, but if I can at the same time live with my old standard, I live with it. Makes life easier for me.”

BERES HAMMOND’s music is soulful reggae, but what does ‘soul’ mean to the singer?

“Soul is from the heart you know. It’s from the heart, it’s the truth about you and your situation. People understand when people are singing from the heart or when they are just singing because they are singing notes. Now the soul is what people believe in. There when you speak, when you sing and you sing with a certain level of conviction to people.”

He went further: “Like if you tell someone a story and they might not believe you, and I tell them the same story, but they believe me because I probably have a level of conviction of how I get it across to you. That now is soul as far as I’m concerned. It’s got nothing to do with a slow rhythm or nothing like that. It has to do with how you come across, how you deliver. So I try to do it with soul.”

On British reggae music and whether people from outside of Jamaica can make authentic-sounding reggae, HAMMOND had this to say:

“I love it [British reggae] you know, I love it bad. It was coming from Jamaica in the first place, but the UK still maintains the same lovers rock in a beautiful way. Jamaica does the same thing but because of the technology that is around the place now the youths tend to gradually incline themselves to this new thing where they allow themselves to make the machine sing for them more than anything else. For me it’s a matter of choice, and one has to be firm within themselves to maintain anything or to distract themselves.”

Looking over his career, HAMMOND said if he could go back in time and pass on any advice to his younger self, he would say the following: “Beres, what you have lived through, you had to go through, in order for you to have this trend that you have now.”

He added: “Even though I would have probably tried to skip one of two of them days when it wasn’t so lovely, you know. I could have skipped a few of them days, but guess what happened? Each moment helps to build the kind of strength that I have.

"So if I should do it all over again, yeah, it’s a tough question you ask, but you know I don’t mind the result. If how I did it results in this way, I don’t see no reason why I should have wanted to do it the next way. Because one has to learn hard sometimes, you know, to maintain what you have. Yes man, you have to learn, you can’t just jump on top of the ladder without climbing the steps.”

On the future HAMMOND remains optimistic about the years ahead.

“What I do know is that I’m going to be living this as the years come. In the business it’s an open road, the door’s open for the next 15 years,” he said. “Yeah, 20 years.”

BERES HAMMOND and BUNNY WAILER have lined up the following live shows:

  • 11 Jul - O2 Academy, Leeds * BERES HAMMOND only
  • 12 Jul - O2 Academy, Bristol
  • 16 Jul - O2 Academy, Liverpool
  • 17 Jul - O2 Academy, Brixton
  • 18 Jul - O2 Academy, Birmingham

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