LargeUp Interview: Rolling with Jovi Rockwell

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Jovi Rockwell

LU: There are some female artists that I could compare to you, or compare you to, who aren’t making music much more interesting than yours, and they’re household names. Why do you think that your name hasn’t gotten out there as much?

JR: I think everything is about timing.  I am a female from Jamaica that is aspiring to be on the world stage. Like my country, I am a melting pot. My music is. When you’re doing something that is pushing borders, and not a set thing, it is more difficult for people to go “Oh…yeah.” Some people get it and some people don’t. That’s the only thing I can think of.

LU: A few years ago you released a mixtape, and were featured on the Major Lazer album with Mr. Vegas. It seemed like you were really going somewhere but, since, you’ve been quiet. Any reason why?

JR: My art to me is a complete reflection of me. I felt like I needed to own my craft. I feel it’s really important to really “become” before you step out there. I felt like I needed to build more. People have their ideas of me but nobody but me really knows. I don’t want to be just doing it for doing it’s sake. I want to do it so it has a meaning to me.

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LU: Tell me about working with Snoop on this Snoop Lion project…

JR: I worked with Diplo on an upcoming project, and I recorded [the song that would become Snoop Lion’s “La La La”] And [Diplo] told me a couple months later that Snoop heard the record, loved it, and recorded it. I was like, “No way! Why didn’t you tell me that?” and he said, “I didn’t know if they were going to go through with it.” How I felt when it happened, words can not describe. Snoop is an icon, a very special individual. He doesn’t care about taking risks. He’s a true artist who takes rap to a different level. He adds color and humor and a certain lightness to it. For an artist like that, who I grew up listening to and really respect and rate, [to record one of my songs] at a time when he was inspired to reincarnate himself as an artist, was amazing. When I first got the record and heard it, I was driving, and I downloaded it on my phone, and pulled over to the side and I cried tears of joy. For somebody that inspired me to know I inspired them was very moving.

LU: The vocals on the song were already one there?

JR: Yeah. They left me on there, too, which I thought was respect. I thought that was really, really cool. So it’s a feature. [Snoop] has reached out to me to let me know how much he loves the song. Now I can say I communicate with Snoop on an artist level. That’s just amazing. He’s Snoop Lion now, and I can go down in history as a part of that.

LU: Have you collaborated with him on any further songs?

JR: No, but we’ve spoken about it.

LU: Are people aware that is you on the song? What has been the feedback?

JR: The feedback has been good. Everybody in Jamaica is very excited about him being Snoop Lion now and doing reggae music. If you don’t like Snoop… something wrong with you!

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LU: Do you keep up with reggae and dancehall?

JR: I do. I don’t want to sound this way but I got kind of trapped there. I ended up [getting labeled as a dancehall artist. No disrespect to the genre at all but my father was a cabaret artist [at hotels] on [Jamaica’s] North Coast, singing Frank Sinatra to every different genre of music, pop, reggae, soca. So I was introduced to a lot of different styles at a young age. I wanted to reflect that as an artist. I felt a little streotyped in just being one style. And my dream, which is more than a dream because I’m actually doing it, is to really capture all of the elements in my culture. I grew up listening to dancehall and reggae and all different genres. My vision is pulling from these and adding bits and pieces like a Frankenstein to create the sound of Jovi Rockwell.

Cause I am a kid from Kingston. I also went to high school in America and I remember getting into alternative and rock. I realize now, as I mature in my musicianship, exactly what I want. I am excited about blending reggae sounds and a three-part horn section and a dancehall drum pattern and a ska this, and putting that with some electric guitars, and tweaking that with some bagpipes. Music is an unlimited source and I’d like to tap into that.

Read on for Part 3, as Jovi discusses life between Miami and Jamaica, her new band Jovi and the Rockwells, and building Frankenstein…

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