Jamming with Desmond Foster

By Howard Campbell
Observer senior writer

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

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Desmond Foster is old enough to remember when Jamaican parties were the rage in his native Harlesden. The uptempo songs that were played recalled the vibe of good times 'back a yaad'.

Based in Stockholm, Sweden, the singer/musician recaptures that sound on Friday Night, a horn-hooked, rocksteady-flavoured song he recently released. He told the Jamaica Observer that variety has helped keep his career and music fresh.

“I love to experiment with reggae. For me, reggae music is such a powerful vibe. I wanted that (party vibe) so when you heard the lyrics of Friday Night and felt the music you could see yourself in the dance,” he said. “For us who grew up with the sound system and clubs, and the drum and bass thing, we sure know about that.”

Foster has lived in Sweden for over 20 years, and has made a name on the country's reggae scene which he said “becomes stronger each year” with major festivals like Uppsala. It is considerably different than the United Kingdom which has an established fan base.

“The UK reggae market has been going longer then Sweden's, plus there are more Jamaicans living in England. Reggae in Sweden means happy times, reggae is more of a way of of life for Jamaicans in England,” Foster explained.

Harlesden, in northwest London, was one of the flash points for British reggae during the 1970s and 1980. The city produced several hardcore acts, the best known being Grammy winners Steel Pulse.

Foster, whose parents are Jamaican, was strongly inspired by that movement but also admired the work of rhythm and blues giants like Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder and Earth, Wind and Fire. Those eclectic influences were beneficial to his career as he played guitar or bass in bands that backed Boney M, Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs, David Byrne, Boy George and Mary J Blige.

Since moving to Sweden, he has collaborated with some of the country's leading artistes, including singers Joey Fever and Victoria Moralez and hip-hop DJ Freddie Cruger. His productions cover different forms of reggae.

“I make music for a particular market, for Jamaicans all over the world, wherever they may be. On the other hand, I find I write in a particular way that can be suited for radio,” he said.

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