Monday, February 14, 2011

Romain Virgo Interview

The Reggae Review had the pleasure of catching up with Romain Virgo in early November last year. With a large storm looming over Jamaica, he was kind enough to take time out of his very busy schedule to answer a few questions for us over the telephone.

RR: How was your tour w/ Capleton?

RV: It was good, very very good. 26 cities in the U.S, and believe me 98% of the shows were very very good.

RR: Any favorite places that you can’t wait to go back to, or new places you hadn't been?

RV: Yeah Mon, we travel the entire east coast. I'd never been to Connecticut, places that I’d been to already were Boston, New York, Florida, Texas, but I went to a couple of new places but I don't remember all a dem off the top of mi head (Laughs). Especially the new places that I went, I wasn't expecting anyone to know the music. I was going there as a new artist. When we hear people singing the lines in songs, they were like whoa, you are the guy that sings that song. So it was a very good experience. I really enjoyed it.

RR: What part of Jamaica were you born?

RV: I was born in St. Ann’s, Jamaica in a small community called Stently. Stently is a mile away from 9 miles where Bob Marley was born. Bob Marley is basically from the same area, up in the hills of St. Ann’s.

RR: How was growing it up there? How was your family life?

RV: Well, I grew in a very poor family. 5 of us slept in 1 bedroom, me, my mommy, my brother, my sister, and my great grandmother. You know that was life growing up, at the same time even though we were poor, we were a very happy family. We never let anything stop wi. Even though I only had one pair of shoes… you know, but we were happy. I had to the wear the same pair of shoes to school, to work, going on the road wherever, but we were very happy. I must say we are people that believe in ourselves. I always told my mommy that music is what I’m gonna do. I remember I was trying to get into college and I told my mommy that I was going to win ‘Rising Stars’ and pay my tuition fees, it was nice though. A peaceful community… everyone live like family.

RR: You done a lot of work with Donovan Germain and Penthouse. How is working with him?

RV: It was good. Donovan Germain is the first big producer that I work with after winning the ‘Digicel Rising Stars’ in Jamaica. “Mi cyaan Sleep” was my first big song for him. It wasn't my first recording but it was my first big song from Penthouse. Working with Donovan is very good. He is like a mentor and, at the same time, somebody that would record me no matter what. He will try and record you and then correct you at the same time. So, it’s very, very good.

RR: What song is your personal favorite from the album?

RV: Whoa! Jah Know! (Laughs) We have a hard time choosing. All a dem ah we favorite still, you know, but one song that really stands out is “Be Careful” on the Bob Marley Riddim. That was a song that stand out, it’s not a love song. My favorite songs to perform are for the ladies, you know. That song was something I really felt caw it was basically what was going on in the West Kingston area that make the song like prophecy, you know. I wrote the song like a year ago. People were asking me if it was because of what was going on in West Kingston that I wrote that song, I say ‘no I wrote the song more than a year ago.’ So, that really stand out for me.

RR: How do you go about writing songs? Do you write with music in mind or without music or both?

RV: Yeah, both a dem. Sometime I’ll get the riddim from Donovan Germain, or whatever producer I’m working with. Or sometimes I would have an idea. Sometimes I just write the song. Sometimes is just an idea and we go into the studio and just finish it. But my writing is basically things that happen in everyday life or things that I grow up experiencing, or other people’s experience. That’s how mi really write.

RR: Who have you not worked with that you want to inside of the reggae world?

RV: Well there are a number of producers especially that I should be working with right now but because of the whole vibe of music it’s not a rush thing so we still looking forward. But, you know… where should I start now?... Stephen McGregor, Di Genius. He is one producer I’ll definitely be recording with. You also have Dean Fraser that I want to record with because he is a very influential person in the music business. Don Corleone.. I would definitely do a recording with him. There are a number of producers out there probably I wouldn't remember all of dem right now but were looking forward.

RR: Any Artists outside of reggae you would like to work with?

RV: Well growing up usher and R. Kelly were some of my favorite artists. I would definitely do something with them or even probably Rhianna or Alicia Keys, you know, yeah mon definitely do something with dem.

RR: Are you a football Fan

RV: Yeah Mon, that ah my sport! (Laughs)

RR: What’s your favorite team?

RV: Well you know outside of Jamaica, Brazil is always from ever since growing up been my favorite team, Brazil is like a Jamaica to me.

RR: Any talents you have that people may not know about besides singing?

RV: Ah, Jah know, well, I can play a little football (Laughs) and I’m learning to play the keyboard. I hope that I’ll adapt to that one pretty soon.

RR: Any new projects you’re working on right now?

RV: Apart from the album were working on a number of singles. But the main thing were focusing on is the video for “Taking You Home”. That video is coming pretty… pretty soon. I just talked to the producer of the video last night. We’ll start shooting Sunday actually, so people can look forward to that video.

RR: Any plans on traveling back through Florida anytime soon?

RV: Probably next year, but you know we have European tour. We just come from a 1 month tour with Capleton of the U.S so we have Europe coming up next. Actually, next week is Belize but we have Europe for 1 month starting the 22nd, so we just looking forward to that.

RR: Is it your first time in Europe?

RV: Well, I was in Spain early this year for the Rototom Festival, you know, but this will be my first tour in Europe and it will be my first tour with me alone. It’s a good feeling to know I can go in Europe by myself and probably get the same feed back as I get at any other shows.

RR: It was really great talking with you! Thanks for your time!

RV: Yeah Mon, give thanks. Respect!