Jamaican chef serves up reggae

Saturday, May 31, 2014

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JAMAICA-BORN Christopher Pinder works as a chef in Demark's second largest city of Aarhus. He specialises in Jamaican jerk cuisine, and patties and baked products.

He, however, intends to serve up something more exotic with the release of his debut album, Journey From Kingston to Aarhus, in June. The 12-track set is produced on his CJSP Music imprint.

"It has been absolutely exciting. Words can't begin to describe the emotions. I can only sing it, or possibly bake a cake to celebrate," said Pinder, who uses the stage name Julius Caesar and is in his mid-30s.

The reggae album's lead single, Turn Me On, features a female artiste of Caribbean descent called India. It was released in February to whet the appetite of the Danes. The feedback, he said, has been positive.

The album also features another artiste, Solar, who lives in St Thomas.

According to Pinder, the production process was tedious. He explained most of the songs were recorded in Denmark then sent to Jamaica for beats. They were returned to Denmark for additional recording, then re-sent to Jamaica for mixing and mastering.

Pinder first visited Denmark in 1999 on a request from a friend. He returned in 2002 and has resided there since.

That European country has a vibrant reggae fan base in its capital city Copenhagen. Several local acts have performed there as well. In fact, last August, that city hosted the inaugural two-day Scandinavia Reggae Festival.

Despite this, Pinder feels that there is void left by the death of Danish reggae artiste Natasja Saad in 2007.

Saad, who came to Jamaica in 2006, won Irie FM's Big Break talent contest. She gained a number one spot on Billboard's Hot Dance Airplay chart with her remix of Calabria. She, however, died in a car crash in St Catherine six months later.

"Natasja was quite popular here in Denmark. Many artistes have sought to copy what she did by going to Jamaica and trying to get that authentic reggae sound, which is so crucial to success in Europe. But, unfortunately, they have not been able to replicate that success," he said.

Pinder said Europeans have been doing an impressive job of cloning reggae; therefore, it is up to the up-and-coming artistes to focus on making timeless music.

"Some of the younger acts, especially those who do dancehall, need to define themselves and their music. The songs need to tell a story, rather than being just a string of words about bad mind, girls and their personal possessions. They need to have plan, know exactly how far they want to go in the business and what they are willing to sacrifice to reach there," Pinder said.

He related an incident in which he had booked an up-and-coming reggae artiste for a show at a club.

"The artiste, who was already in Denmark, realised he had to travel two-and-a-half hours by train to reach the venue just didn't bother to show. And he didn't return the deposit, either," he said.

A former student of Vauxhall Secondary in Kingston, Pinder was born in St Thomas. At 15, he said he began selecting for Red Eagle sound system in his hometown and began penning lyrics in his notebooks. He said he used to frequent studios including Penthouse, Mixing Lab and Arrows, seeking his break.

His first single, Show-Off, was released in 2005.

-- Cecelia Campbell-Livingston




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