LargeUp Interview: A Last Chat with Wayne Smith

February 28, 2014

sleng_teng_king_wayne_smith largeup

LU: Who was the next producer you worked with?

WS: I recorded an album for a producer name Jay Pug, who was always around at Tubby, he gave me a chance. Jay Pug was a producer but he was also a gangster who always had his gun and him, he loved badness. There was another producer who said he would give me chance, so I was carrying his big heavy bags with studio tape for him every day, and after maybe six months or more he said he was going to give me a chance. So one day he tell me he is going to record me then when we are about to start recording, he tells me the tape is full.

Jay Pug sees me everyday trying to get someone to record me and one day he pull me aside and ask me if I want to record a song and I said yes. He sends me into the recording booth, picks up a tape left at the studio by Bunny “Striker” Lee and tells the engineer to record me on that. The engineer starts protesting, so Jay Pug pulls out his gun and threatened him; so he put on the tape and Jay Pug tells me to sing. So I am in the booth and started singing on the first riddim, which was “Drum Sound.” I had nothing written out, but in no time, I did a song call “I’ve Got To Get Her Back,” and I was just singing off the top of my head. He tells the engineer to throw on a next riddim and I sung, and he threw on a next one and I sung, and in no time I recorded ten songs. Jay Pug then said he had an album with me now [laughs].

LU: So off the top of your head, you recorded 10 songs?

WS: Yeah! Linval Thompson was there and asked “A who that a sing?” and it was me. He said “Bloodclaat youth, You wicked!” And that was what they sent to England as [a] special but not releasing it, but Jammy’s heard it in England and a lot of people heard it and started recording me now because I used to use a little of Barry Brown style with a Linval Thompson sound till I created my own style, so people used to love that.

Before I was with Jammy’s, I was working at Channel One with the Hoo-Kim brothers’ Hit Bound label and other people like Harry J, and I still used to go around by Tubby. Jammy’s heard my unreleased album for Jay Pug while he was in England and asked, “A which youth that?” When he came back from England in about 1981, he sent Junior Reid to get me because him wanted to work with me. After that, I started to record for him but nothing really had a big impact. The first song he put out with me was “Life Is A Moment In Space,” a Barbra Streisand cover, it did well in England.

Then I voiced an album, Youthman Skanking, he put out in England. That did gwan good. I wasn’t a jump up artist like Little John who, when he came into the dance and sing, people would buss shot, jump up and beat down the fence. I was just a cool, cultural artist. One day Jammy’s come to me and said “Wayne, people love and respect you, but we want you to step it up and go more harder now- singjay now.” Which I never used to do.

LU: So those times you were with the reggae thing, you never really playing with the dancehall thing.

WS: Yeah, more one drop and love songs and Jammy’s say “alright, step it up” and then I start to  sing “Come Along” and I went hard. In ’83 Channel One put out a cover I did of Boy George’s Karma Chameleon on the Hypocrites riddim and that gwaan good. There was a guy name Bills Eye, a customs officer, and he had a sound system name Heat Wave, that Bobby Digital used to play. So I am getting hot now and Jammy’s had flown out, so is just me and Bobby Digital at Jammy’s studio now. Bills Eye had given us some riddim do some special. Which is a exclusive record for that sound or an unreleased song, versus a dubplate where you sing about the sound and the selectors. So we got the Stalag riddim and Darker Shade Of Black riddim and I sung “Come Along” and “Ain’t No Meaning Of Saying Goodbye” and cut it as special now. These just a mash up any dance where it got played. Bobby Digital called Jammy’s in England, and when Jammy’s came back to Jamaica, he put it out through Dynamic Sounds.

LU: You were featured in the documentary Deep Roots Music recording “Ain’t No Me” for King Jammy’s.

WS: Who did that one? Yeah man, I am getting old you know, I don’t even remember. [laughs].

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