Aswad Interview

Talking to British Reggae Band ASWAD

The itzcaribbean team caught up with British reggae legends Aswad to find out more about the band.

Tell us how Aswad formed in the begining?
The band was formed in 1976, originally with 11 members. It was a group of talented musicians, who were friends and associates from West London, the Ladbroke Grove area, who had a desire to be a collective and make reggae music. We wanted a name that was strong, powerful and represented us and one of the guys found the name in a book and it stayed.

Who was your inspiration to become Reggae singers?

At that time it was primarily Bob Marley & The Wailers. We want to emulate them and make reggae music that would touch the whole world. The money and fame didn’t even come across our minds. It was a true love for the music.

What difficulties did you overcome?

To be honest there was only one major issue we had to tackle and that was getting noticed / signed by a record company. At that time the British Reggae scene was seen as powerful entity. However we made a demo tape got an appointment to see Richard Williams, who was an A&R rep from Island Records and he gave us a chance and our first record deal at Island records and we have never looked back ever since. So we became the first UK reggae band to be signed by a major label.

Do you feel reggae has influenced other genres?

Definitely, you can hear how the music in most genres has been influenced y reggae, the heavy base lines, even with the way artists sing/rhyme with their lyrics this was all originally done by Reggae. If you research you will even find out that hip hop took elements of Reggae and embraced it for their genre.

What Changes have you seen over the years?

Primarily it’s the music and studio recording, when we first started every instrument was played live, and our sessions would be recorded on heavy duty tape reels, which would need to be transported via vans. Now you can get instruments electronically played, the new digital era with .mp3 & .mp4 files is amazing. It so easy to send music around the world and get other artists to perform on your music by emailing the files, so much easier and cheaper than getting a flight across to another country.

What has been your highlight as a band?

Aswad has toured numerous countries and continents, Germany, France, Africa, Japan to name a few and had amazing experiences and much admiration from thousands of fans globally. However playing for Nelson Mandela in his concert in the UK is the highlight of their career, Mr Mandela said he listened to our music in prison and that was inspirational for us.

How do you feel about the industry at the moment?

Reggae has broken into all genres and has evolved, these days it has Dub, Dancehall, The sound systems, Singers, Dj’s with such talented producers and writers, How ever we need more Artists, Camera Men, Managers, PR & marketing people as the industry is huge and can grow more.

What does the future hold for Aswad?

We are currently working on a new album due to come out later this year so watch this space!.

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