Interview by Kizzy Riske and Susan Underwood
Photos by © Robin Shaffer
We were fortunate enough to see Grammy nominees Raging Fyah for the second time in just a few months in Denver. We got to see them in August when Protoje came through and then again on February 9th at the Ogden Theater with Nattali Rize and Tribal Seeds.
It was an exciting time, because the Grammys were happening on that following Sunday, February 12th, and our “Fyah Squad” was nominated for Best Reggae Album for “Everlasting”
We arrived at the venue and Skelly, Raging Fyah tour manager, greeted us outside and told us that he was working on where we would conduct our interview. We have to say that Skelly is very lovely to work with!
Once the guys were ready, Skelly escorted us to their dressing room where Kumar, Pele and Demz were waiting. We were missing Gizmo and Tonydrumz, but not for long because the interview took place before the show. And what a show it was!
Nattali Rize (Australia) took to the stage first and blew everyone’s mind. We thoroughly enjoyed watching her gain so many new fans who had no idea who she was. Her performance was thrilling! Her debut album is releasing on March 24th “Rebel Frequency” You can pre-order it at NattaliRize.com
The Fyah Squad was up next, and they did not disappoint! Much of the crowd were Tribal Seeds fans who quite possibly had never heard Raging Fyah perform. I can guarantee you that those fans left happy that night, and are now Raging Fyah fans for life!
The Ogden Theater was filled to capacity as Raging Fyah hit the stage. The setlist went like this:
Nah Look Back
Step Outta Babylon
Ready For Love
It was a GREAT performance! High energy from the Fyah Squad in The Mile High City!!
Note: This interview was done just a couple of days before the Grammys. While Raging Fyah did not win the Grammy this year, we are thrilled that they were nominated. They ARE ALWAYS winners and we love them!
Our congrats to Ziggy Marley for the Grammy win!
Here is our laid back and refreshing conversation with the Fyah Squad:
Susan: Our first question to you guys is when are you flying to LA? You are going right?
Kumar: Yes, we are.
Susan: So you’ll be there Sunday for the Grammys, right?
Kumar: Yeah, we’re leaving tomorrow morning.
Susan: Nice! Our Shelah Moody is going to be covering the Grammy’s so we’ll be able to get even more coverage of you. That’s so cool, Congratulations!
Band: Thank you , yeah.
Susan: I’m so proud of you guys! We have been supporting you from day one, and watching you guys soar is just amazing!
Band: Thank you, Thank you!
Susan: Truly, good job. The album, and the way that you opened it up with the title track, Everlasting, (by the way, I love the whole album), but that title track is so nice. I really love the way you mix the ska riddims with reggae on this track. Kizzy and I have been talking about the musicality of this album and it’s so clear that you came from musical education.
Kizzy: Yes, so clear. I also studied music in college and so I had a lot of ear training and I tend to pick up things when I listen. As soon as I heard this new album, well, I had already seen you guys with Protoje so I new already but, when I heard this album I could tell that you are all trained musicians, and those vocals, man, great vocals. It was just so refreshing to hear a whole band where everyone is musically trained. It’s very impressive and apparent. Good job.
Kumar: Thank you
Susan: So welcome back to Denver. You guys were just here in August?
Kumar: Yes, August
Susan: You’re flying out for the Grammys in the morning?
Kumar: Yes, and we have One Love Fest on Saturday.
Robin: Yeah they talk funny over there. They talk funny. (Fake English Accent)
Kumar: I’m from Rhode Island. (Laughing) (We did some laughing and joking)
Susan: So how was Aspen? I know you went through some snow in Montana on the way in to Colorado.
Kumar: It’s been tour life for the last two weeks.
Kizzy: Did you like the venue Belly Up in Aspen?
Kumar: Yes, it’s real nice.
Susan: So you did ok with the drive?
Kumar: Yeah, we just sleep it off you know.
Kizzy: I heard you were just added to the Welcome To JamRock Reggae Cruise, are you excited about that?
Kumar: Yeah, it will feel good, being on the waters you know.
Kizzy: Looks like a party!
Kumar: Have you been on the cruise?
Kizzy: No, I haven’t but I’d love to. I’ve just seen pictures.
Susan: We do have people covering it though.. We actually covered the inaugural cruise, and did a special edition magazine which was very cool.
So, uh, I’ve got to get back to the Grammy nomination. I think I already know the answer to this question but I have to ask you, how did that feel…when you got the phone call?
Kumar: It was unbelievable.
Kizzy: (To Kumar) You can tell by that face right there. (Smiles)
Susan: I know Lukes (Raging Fyah manager) found out, he was over the moon! It took Morgan Heritage a long time to win a Grammy (They won last year for their album Strictly Roots ) and then there’s you guys….how cool is that? I know he has to feel like the proud Papa, you know? Did you feel like you were in the running for the Grammy? Did you feel it? Or was it a total surprise?
Kumar: I mean, it was a total surprise but we had a good record so anything was possible.
Kizzy: It’s a great record.
Pele: For me, for me it was a total surprise. I didn’t even remember that the album was submitted. I had no idea the Grammy’s were being announced that day so when I got the message I was totally surprised. Ha ha.
Susan: I know you had to be feeling so thankful and humbled.
Pele: Yeah I was like, it’s too early to be running this kind of jokes in the morning.
Demz: Yeah, I was the same ha ha
Susan: Well on the album there are a lot of tracks that stand out for me, and I know that you all do the writing, right? You all share in that, which is so cool. I love Happiness, It reminds me a little of Bobby McFearon’s song.
Kumar: “Don’t Worry be Happy”
Susan: Yeah, and it does, it just makes me feel like there isn’t anything that I can’t do, I’m not going to worry about it, I’m going to be happy and responsible for my own vibe. You know, no matter what’s going on around me. I love that song…I love all of them! It is rare for me to love every single song on an album, but I really do love all of the tracks on Everlasting!
Kumar: Thank you…that’s a nice…good feeling….
Susan: Coming out of Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, I know that has to have made a huge difference with all of you on how you deal with it all, not just the music but the business aspect of things, would you agree?
Kumar: Yeah, it just gives us a sense of treating the music more than just a hobby you know, so I think going to school just taught us ethics, and to respect the craft, you know, and being on time…that’s the most important thing.
Susan: What advice would you give the youth that are aspiring to be in music? The ones who are wanting to follow in your footsteps….what would be the most inspiring thing that you could tell them?
Pele: First of all you have to love whatever you are gonna do you know, if you don’t have love for it, it makes no sense.
Kumar: Second thing is if you love it, you’re gonna need discipline.
Kumar: Discipline, and you have to aim for your best and put your best foot forward
Kizzy: You can hear in your music that you feel that.
Pele: Yeah, and you’ve got to sacrifice…
Susan: Touring is hard isn’t it…it’s a huge sacrifice.
Pele: Yeah, it’s a sacrifice, but before you even reach touring it’s a sacrifice.
Kumar: Practice, practice, practice, practice!!
Pele: If you don’t love it, just let it quit.
Kumar: The band concept and the unity between the individuals is for real , but that’s a whole other story.
Kumar: Just love it and be disciplined.
Susan: I have to change the subject for a moment. ….I’m so sad about the violence in Jamaica right now. What is really going on?
Kumar: It’s the source. You have to check the source, where it’s really coming from you know. What’s inspiring these actions, cause I don’t think it’s so simple.
Susan: It’s not simple and I know people are saying, it used to be that women and children were off limits and now it just seems like that’s not true any more and it’s scary.
Kumar: Times are changing
Susan: They are changing. The music and positive messages are more important than ever!
Kumar: So we have to just.. We have to understand the times that we’re living in and keep making the kind of music that we’re making. There’s not much we can do on an individual basis other than the same that we’re doing now, keep making good, positive music.
Susan: So let everybody do their part collectively
Demz: Hope they tune in.
Kumar: It’s there, it’s up to the people to tune in and feel the vibration of the music; We’re on tour you know so we have to just keep working while hoping that, you know…
Susan: Well, you know, a lot of us not only love the music but we love Jamaica and we love the people. We just want things to get better and we’ll do our part, you know, we’ll keep doing our part.
Kizzy: So, you guys were named Jamaican Reggae Ambassadors?
Band: Yes, Yes!
Kizzy: What exactly does that mean?
Kumar: Well, it means that wherever we go we promote Brand Jamaica you know, we tell everybody that, you know the government made it official, we were doing it for years before the government stepped in but now I think that with the nomination and all the good things that have happened for the band, the consistent touring and stuff, I think it was fitting for them to actually stand behind us you know.
Kizzy: And a big honor I would imagine?
Kumar: Yes, so we feel good about this joined with the government. We were ambassadors from day one you know…
Kizzy: Yeah, absolutely.
Susan: I have to ask you, how does it feel to be opening for an American reggae band?
Kumar: Yeah man, I mean, we’re not really looking pon it like it’s an American reggae band, you know, we’re opening for a band.
Susan: So it’s all about the music.
Kumar: Yeah, all about the music.
Susan: I was telling Kizzy today, I remember when Bob Marley was approached back in the day about opening for the Commodores and his team was not happy about that. They said ‘no…they need to be opening for you’ but Bob said ‘no man, I want to do this’ because he wanted to penetrate their fan base so I’m guessing it’s all about the music but you know there are some artists who don’t like it.
Kumar: Yeah but it’s their opinion. I mean for us we know that it’s getting Raging Fyah somewhere, in a niche and space which I think reggae music and Jamaica needs. So, instead of complaining about that we just join with them and we can share our stages with them. Why not?
Susan: And that’s what it should be all about.
Susan: So Skelly gave us 15 minutes and we’re going to respect that. And no matter what happens on Sunday at the Grammys, you guys have already won!
Have a really good show tonight!
Kizzy: Enjoy the Grammy’s…good luck…get lot’s of pictures… LOL
Band: hahahah thank you ha ha ha
Kizzy: Thank you so much for taking the time to do this…we appreciate it.
Susan: Yes, thank you. See you soon!
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