Entertainment

Queen Tress goes Underneath It All

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL
Observer senior writer

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

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For most of her artistic career, Teresia ”Queen Tress” Jansson has been a poet, but when one of her creations hit close to home she thought it was appropriate to record it as a reggae song.

She did Underneath It All with Turbulence which was recently released. Produced by Jamaican Denzil Williams, it hears Turbulence's distinctive dancehall/roots style blended with Queen Tress' native Swedish.

The song marks the 44-year-old's recording debut and is one of six tracks from an EP scheduled for release in 2019. Underneath It All was inspired by a personal experience.

“This song is about falling in love with the 'wrong' person, something I have experienced and guess a lot of people have. In this case I let it be about a white, Christian, Swedish girl and a black, Jamaican, Rasta guy. It also says something about my music, a mix of Sweden and Jamaica where two cultures meet,” she said in an interview with the Jamaica Observer.

Queen Tress is from Stockholm, Sweden's capital which has had a vibrant reggae scene for over 30 years. Though she considers herself a poet, frequenting her hometown's reggae clubs made her appreciate Jamaican culture.

After meeting Williams, she was encouraged to take the plunge and kick off her recording career. Her pending EP also has collaborations with Jah Vinci and G Whizz.

“My wish from the start with this EP was to do some collaborations with Jamaican reggae and dancehall artistes so for me it has been great to work with a producer who is Jamaican but lives in Sweden and who has also been an artiste with very good contacts in this business,” she explained. “It was my producer who gave me Turbulence as a suggestion to work with and after listening to some of his tracks I was very excited to do that.”

Like most European countries, Sweden's society is largely tolerant of diversity and interracial relationships. In recent years, however, mass migration to Sweden and other Scandinavian nations has ignited far right groups which oppose changing demographics.

“I live in Stockholm and we have lots of interracial relationships in Sweden, and most people think that it's nothing strange about that. What can make people frown is if a man/woman that moves here from a poor country is much younger than the Swedish man/woman they marry. That sometimes makes people wonder if it's about prostitution/money and papers,” she said.

Musically, Sweden is most famous for Abba, the husbands/wives quartet that was one of the biggest acts in the 1970s. Ace Of Base, a group of more recent vintage known for experimenting with reggae, were also popular with Jamaicans.

There has never been any hint of those groups sound in Queen Tress' work.

“I was actually writing a lot of poems in Swedish and 'cause I used a modern language and rhymes I got the idea to make them to hip hop lyrics. But I was listening more and more to reggae and dancehall and got very interested in Jamaica, so a year ago I started to write in English,” she said. “So, when it comes to my beats they are most influenced by dancehall and reggae and I am listening very much to a bunch of Jamaican artistes.”

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