Jamaican Music Music Interviews

Reggae Interview Series: Reggae Music In Estonia

Written by Xavier Murphy

This month our series “Reggae Around the World” we interview the group Def Räädu from Estonia. The group’s mixture of reggae with dub, trip hop, house, rock steady and jazzy flavored beats has produced hits singles for them in Estonia and Europe. The group was started in February 1999.

Question: What first drew your attention to Reggae?

I think it’s the positive feeling in the music and often in messages as well, that gives warm energy and power – things that we definately need in nordic countries 😉

Question: What was the first Reggae song you ever heard?

Probably it was something Estonian. Some bands (Magnetic Band, Radar, Apelsin and others) made reggae-influenced music already in 1970’s and released it on 7inch records that was common format at the time. I used to listen to those records when I was young.

Question: Who and what are your influences?

Positive people, nordic climate, all good things in this world.

Question: What style of reggae is played often in your country? [Dancehall, Lovers
Rock, Conscious etc.] What style do the majority of fans seem to prefer?

At parties the most popular style is definately dancehall, but reggaeton, soca, roots and electronic styles like ragga jungle and dubstep also work well. Roots works well in the beginnings and ends of the parties and gets lot of time on local radioshows.

Question: Was the fact that Reggae is English and Patois a barrier?

English is definately not a problematic language for Estonians, most of us study it already in school. Sometimes it’s hard to understand all lyrics in Patois, but if you think deeper then you get the point. So basicly I think it’s not the barrier, more like an exotic addition, that attracts listeners.

Question: Is Reggae mainstream and is it played on the radio there? Videos on TV?

Reggae is played on radios daily, but mainly hitsongs by artists like Sean Paul, Shaggy, Beenieman etc. Same with videos on local MTV. But our own sounds have been successful in last years – good example about the popularity of local dancehall may be the fact, that Def Räädu & J.O.C. hitsong „Kuningas Ei Eksi” (made with jazz-singer Sofia Rubina) was on number 9 position in the biggest yearly chart called Aastahitt on 2006.

Question: How is Reggae influencing your culture?

It definately has an influence on our pop culture, but how much it influences our local (folk) culture – hard to say. But it definately has some influnce. For example this year’s Youth Song & Dance Festival witnessed thousands of young dancers dancing with breakers after kind of reggae/dancehall rhythm and MC J.O.C. rhymeing old estonian folk song on it in a reggae/dancehall way – that shows already something.

Question: If someone traveled to visit your home and wanted to hear reggae music
what would they have to do?

To read more about Estonian reggae scene visit http://www.reggae.ee and http://www.bashment.ee

Question: How would you describe your country’s reggae sound and development?

Some bands (Magnetic Band, Radar, Apelsin and others) made reggae-influenced music already in 1970’s and released it on 7inch records that was common format at the time. I used to listen to those records when I was young.

Question: What are some of the names of the popular local artist? Who would be the
top 5 artists?

Most popular artists of the scene are Def Räädu, Plookie, Fire & Ice Band, Rasta Orchestra, Külalised and some more. MC’s J.O.C., Mr.President, Marie-Ange, Tommyboy, Naya Gaz and others keep doing their thing regularly at the parties and studios.

Question: How did you get interested in Reggae?

I was young and heard Estonian reggae-songs – probably that’s how it happened.

Question: Who is your favorite Reggae Artist?

I’m more interested in music production, since I’m a producer. So my favourites are Sly & Robbie, Bob Marley & The Wailers, Bobby Digital, Jah Screw to name a few.

Question: Where do you think Reggae will be in 10 years time? And in Your country?

I’m not good in forecasting =) I hope things will be positive!

Question: Do you think there is anything preventing Reggae from flourishing for you
and your fellow artists there?

Estonia is a small country, that is quite far away from central Europe. Big reggae names don’t perform in Estonia too often and that’s sad. So basicly our community stands on local activists, their sounds and events, radio-shows etc. Hopefully they keep doing their thing and keep pushing the scene and reggae music forward!

Question: How are you involved in Reggae?

I’m one of the producers behind Def Räädu. Also I produce dancehall under artist-name Gee – been producing and remixing music for different Estonian artists in last 10 years. On 2004 I produced estonian first ever dancehall riddim album „Mobile” with DJ Mista and other artists from Estonia, Finland, Sweden, Cuba, Congo and USA. You can listen to a short „Mobile” mixtape here.

I also run Lejal Genes record label and brand new Lejal Globe record label, that just released a solo debut album „El Misionario” by Cuban reggaeton artist Norlan. In addition I organize events all over Estonia.

Question: In some countries you might see people wearing a Jamaican-style hat with
fake dreadlocks attached when they attend reggae concerts and other events. Do you
see anything that you see in your country?

We sometimes see that during festivals or so-called “style-parties”. But we got definately more people on streets wearing Jamaican-style hat with real dreadlocks than fake ones 😉

Question: Have you ever been to Jamaica?

No, I haven’t, thou would like to. But many reggae-activists from Estonia have been there.

Question: Do you have many/any Jamaican people living there?

Don’t know any. Few years ago we had Jamaican singer Natural Pretty often here, but that’s all.

Question: Do you eat Jamaican food? Like what?

Curry chicken in a Jamaican way =) R)

You can check out Def Räädu at their website: http://www.myspace.com/defraadu

About the author

Xavier Murphy