W: Welcome to Witchpolice Radio! You know, I'm again on the internet, as we all are, because the pandemic is still going on -- even though shows are starting to happen more frequently, which is nice. You know, people are getting out and getting out to see live music, and the guest on this episode is someone who has an exciting show coming up in the city. But before we even get to that, I think the best way to start this off is if you want to introduce yourself and maybe just give a bit of background about what it is you do as a musician.
L: Yeah, so I go by the name of Lyberal... you know, the music is dynamic, it's different. It's reggae-based but with a twist, with a different influence, right, and yeah... the show is coming up and just tune in.
W: Cool, cool... and how long have you been doing this -- because I know I've seen your name around at a lot of the local festivals and things over the past number of years, but how long have you actually been performing?
L: I've been doing this for a long time actually. From a tender age, you know? I really have developed my sound from then -- it's different now, you know? It's more strong, it's a more uniform kind of a thing.
W: I guess obviously the thing you're most excited about at this point is having this new record that's coming out and you have a show at the King's Head to launch it here in Winnipeg, but what can you tell me about the album? I mean, how long have you been putting this record together?
L: The album has been in the making for about two years, actually. We finally got it to a point now where we could, you know, kind of launch it to release it -- to let people know what we have been doing, because they heard one or two songs right? But, you know, the album wasn't complete. So now it is, so we're excited to have that to present to people for sure.
W: Have the past two years of lockdowns and restrictions and things like that due to the pandemic -- I imagine that's contributed to kind of the time it's taken to get this from start to finish?
L: Yeah, so during that time... I mean, it really gave me the chance to really focus and to get the songs out that I needed to get written and done, so that was a plus for me. I mean, everybody faces the challenges different, but for me that was it.
W: Did it give you an opportunity to kind of... I mean, obviously you could hone and fine-tune the music during that time, but did you find that you had any significant changes as far as your writing or sort of the the way you approached uh making music during that time? Because a lot of people I've had on the show -- regardless of genre of music they play -- some people have been just completely blocked during that time, and others have kind of found a new gear and sort of found new meaning in what they're doing during this time off, I guess you could call it.
L: For me, it really started before that, because we had a lot of things lined up before the pandemic. When that happened, it propelled us to go into different gear -- to really focus. It gave me the time to focus more on what I want to say and what I want to give people and in terms of my music, right, and my story, my journey and what I have been through up until now. So that was the thing for me.
W: Do you think that this record and this release now ...does this kind of serve as an introduction to who you are to a lot of listeners? I mean, I know you've been around for a while, but this is -- you've had an EP out, right? -- this is your first your first full-length.
L: Yeah, this is the first full-length album. A few songs people might recognize from the EP that will be on an album, because it ties into everything that I have been through from, as I said, day one up until now. I know it's tragic or it's a tragedy for people that went through the pandemic, but for me it gave me that time to grow, you know, and to really focus on delivering writing and stuff like that.
W: It's nice to talk to someone about reggae on this show, because i've been doing this for nine years now, and I've talked to rappers and country singers and folk singers and punk bands and metal bands or whatever... but reggae doesn't come up very often in Manitoba. There is a community for sure, and it's growing and it's nice to see sort of that has been happening over the past few years. What have you seen, I guess as someone who's involved in that community? How have you seen things sort of develop recently?
L: To me it's developed a little bit, but as you said there's people out there that really crave for the reggae -- because a lot of people take trips and stuff like that and they hear different music, a variety of different stuff. So for me to to come and present who I am to Winnipeg, the receiving end it was like, 'ohhhh'. You know, it's grateful to hear that. So yeah, it has changed a little bit, but we still have a ways to go.
W: It seems like it comes almost in waves, because when I was younger, I used to go to as many reggae shows as I could. You know, in the late 90s there were quite a few -- mid- 90s there were a lot of shows happening, and then it sort of died down for a bit. Now it seems like it's coming back up again with new artists, which is great to see. I haven't been to a show in a while, obviously, because shows haven't happened, but it's nice to see online and everything that there seems to be a scene being rebuilt.
L: You know what, we had to really build that. I mean, because it wasn't really... as I said, when I came here, it was there a little bit, but the seriousness of wasn't there. The structure was there, but the you know the the artist, the delivery stuff like that wasn't there. So I had to really bring it -- like kind of step up, because this was from back home and it's what I do.
W: What do you think is is sort of the perception of reggae music here in the community? It's a diverse community, it's getting more diverse year after year, and people are bringing all kinds of different cultural influences to what they do and what they listen to and what they experience ...but just in terms of a general audience here in Manitoba, what do you think that their sort of impression of reggae is? Do you think that there's a positive reaction to it, or do you think there's still some education to do, to teach people what it is?
L: I think there's lots to learn from it, to be honest with you. It's lots to learn and if people would really give it a minute or a day to really be in tune with the music... you know, it's dancehall and it's reggae... so a lot of words that people might say -- and I've got that too -- 'oh, i don't understand what you're saying'. So it's a barrier that we have to break, and sometimes if you don't travel to all these different places, then the language is kind of different, right? So I think it will happen and I think Winnipeg is a great start.
W: It would definitely be nice, for sure. Are there artists that you are personally inspired by that -- not that you're trying to sound like but that have influenced you along the way? That have contributed to the sound that you've created?
L: Oh man, the list could go on and on, my friend. But generally, you know, one of my favourite artists to me is Damian Marley. I opened up for him one time.
W: Oh, really? That must have been pretty cool.
L: Yeah, yeah, and I was much younger, still finding my sound, still finding my lane, still channeling so that learning to discover who I really am. It's so much artists, because it's not just reggae. It's influenced me, sure, but there's different genres -- it's R&B, it's old school, the 90s R&B stuff like that... not just one specific artist, I would say, because everyone ties into my influence on what I'm doing.
W: Well, I think that maybe Damian Marley is a good reference point too, because i mean he's playing roots reggae, he's playing dancehall, he's flirting with 90s hip-hop sort of styles, he's bringing all these different things together. I mean, it's obviously reggae music but there's a lot going on there that makes him reach out to a lot of communities.
L: He's different, man. He's different, you know what I mean? I really look up to him -- not only as an artist but as an individual -- principles and carry yourself well and stuff like that. O like his his music, and he's so diverse in what he does.
W: He's really good at every aspect about what he does, too
L: But it's all the artists out there, man, it's not just him. That's why i said the list will go on... I'm influenced by -- even if it's not a well-known artist, it could be underground music, whatever the case may be. But it's just influential to me to see what people bring to the table and what they have to offer.
W: As far as the content of your songs... you know, reggae, I think, has has kind of a duality where a lot of people see it as just this kind of upbeat sort of positive music but there's also this this long tradition of cultural content and political content and having very serious subject matter being addressed. How do you sort of juggle that? What do you put out there with your stuff?
L: I don't pick sides, and, you know, I'm not all about the political stuff and all of these things -- and I really don't want to get into all of that. I bring myself to the forefront and this is my music and, I mean, give a listen and and then see where it goes and hopefully you like it. So it's just really me and my perceptive or my perception of how I view things. You might not like it, but that's awesome. I respect your opinion.
W: I noticed on your website too, you have this upcoming show at the King's Head listed as a tour date, but then you've got some some international shows as well. You're playing a lot of festivals and one of the things that's really cool sort of over the past a few decades really is just seeing how reggae has just blown up internationally. Especially in Europe, you see these big festivals and there's tens of thousands of people there, and every country has its own scene and its own artists bringing different different styles and things like that. What has your experience been going outside of borders of Manitoba here and getting involved in the larger world that is perceptive to this -- interested in this kind of stuff?
L: It's still kind of scary to really go on a big festival... in a show like that, I guess everybody probably had that feeling, right I started from here and back when I was doing my thing, I wasn't as developed and on this level of music that I am right now. It's not easy to do, you know? But if you have the right people around you, the right team, the right influences, right energy... Anything could be done, right? So it's for me, to conquer some stages here in Winnipeg, that was my growing point. It was my growing point to to present myself to those kind of audiences, those kind of festivals, so it was different. It was a transition that I had to go through, and it was part of here from Winnipeg, so I'm very grateful for that.
W: So how do you get to that point? I mean, obviously introducing yourself to to local audiences, you get the experience of playing more intimate shows because of the the audience size is just naturally smaller because of where we are... how do you progress to then being able to play these big festivals, and knowing that you're going to be introducing your music to a much more international crowd?
L: It's just the confidence that I have to build myself up to and and people here in Winnipeg has helped me get to that level, to be honest with you. It was as I said, man, it's nothing easy. If it was easy, everybody would have been doing it, right? So you know, as I said, man, it's just the right people, the right surroundings, the right energy and stuff like that. People are there to really see you grow and watch you grow and say, 'hey man, you know you can do this if you really want to do it.' So, you know, Winnipeg has really given me that confidence, to be honest.
W: At a lot of these festivals, too, you're probably going to be playing on the same bill as some of your idols, I imagine -- some of these festivals have huge names in terms of the artists that are headlining and stuff like that.
L: Yeah, you know, it's scary because from a younger generation, you watch these guys do their thing, and conquer their segments, and conquer their their beliefs... and it's just weird to even be on the same stage that they are performing, like, 'wow what did I even do to get here?' kind of a thing. I'm still grateful for every moment.
W: I think that's probably a good position to have, that humbleness.
L: Right, because it's giants of the music, man and it was like, I don't know, it's just a different mindset kind of a thing and I have to be like, 'wow', you know?
W: Yeah, that's crazy. Right now, we're in an era, too where where the way that people consume music is so different than it was even 15 years ago. Now you have this possibility where if you make a video here in Winnipeg, it can be seen by people in Germany, in Jamaica, in England... really wherever. Do you think that helped in terms of getting yourself across and getting you some of these opportunities -- the fact that you can sort of share your sound with just anyone at the click of a button?
L: Yeah, I mean, in that sense... I'm not in the music thing for really just me, you know? I'm glad that I get an opportunity to voice whatever I feel and whatever I've been through, you know? I mean for people all across the world to really hear what I'm saying, it's great. Even if it's one person that is influenced by my journey, I can take that and assist someone else, then i think it's a beautiful thing. Wherever the music goes, my friend, it goes. Whoever has been influenced and like what I'm doing, I appreciate it, straight up.
W: This record that you have coming out, what can you tell me about the album? I know, like you said, you've been working on it for for a couple years and then you're building to this to this release show and getting it out in the world -- but what's the background of this record? Where do these songs come from?
L: These songs come from me, channeling from different countries, learning different cultures and stuff like that. Even when I came to Winnipeg, I had to adapt to the winter and all of these things, so it's a great feeling -- they came from me you and this is this is my experience and this is this is what I want to release, you know? This is my story so the album is a journey. Each song is gonna have its own identification, like where it started from where it ends and where did this begin and stuff like that..so yeah, it's different, it's just a channel that you're going to go through. It's emotional, it's down, it's up.
W: Having that kind of that kind of personal story behind it... I mean, it's coming from you, it's your own experiences and all that being filtered through the songs. What is the best way for you as the artist... for someone to take this in? Do you want someone to sit down and listen to the whole thing start to finish and just kind of absorb it, or is it one of these records where you'd be okay with someone just flipping from song to song and then getting them as individual pieces?
L: Well, you know, I hope whatever song that they choose to listen, to the first one, captivates. Even want to listen to more, right? Because that's what it is: it's a story. If you listen to one, that you want to hear about more, then you might, 'okay what does this song entails'? It all differs for different people, so it appeals to different people. I think everyone has their path and we're here to try to start in the best way that we can.
W: So this show, it looks like you have a bunch of local artists backing you up as well at the show. Who else is playing?
L: We have Tania, we have Neil and Dub City Foundation, we have Paul Reedy, we have Kendra, Chantel... you know, so it's a mixture of diffrent ethnicities, different vocals, different backgrounds, different music. That's where we all come together and make this thing happen, because music is not just for one genre.
W: Right. So was that a deliberate choice too to bring all these different styles and different people in there, so that there's kind of a mixed bag?
L: Yeah, because i like diversity... that's why i said it it wasn't just about reggae -- different influences of different genres that really, you know, developed Lyberal in a kind of a sense, because we're always learning.
W: For sure, and your style is going to just be influenced even whether you want it to or not by what you're going through and where you are. I mean, Canada is obviously going to have an impact on on what you're doing whether you intend it to or not -- whether it's the winter or whatever else.
L: Yeah, yeah that's true, but it's a beautiful thing, man. It's a beautiful thing. I'm glad that I have this platform where I could share it with Winnipeggers and hopefully the world.
W: Do you think it's going to be strange after you played these big festivals and things like that, and coming back to Winnipeg... is that going to be weird playing these smaller shows, or do you think that it'll be a different experience?
L: No, because for that experience, you could come back and, you know, you might see a different musician and you might have something to to share from your experience. It all ties into the music as well, so it wouldn't be it would be a big issue. As I said, this is a foundation -- this is where I was before, but this is where it feels propelled and created, you know, really what's created to this level kind of a plane.
W: How long have you been here?
L: It would have been a little over five years.
W: I'm always interested because, you know, I've lived here my whole life. I'm almost 40 now so i've been involved in the music scene for a long time, and for me, most of the people I know and have known most of my life are musicians. But as someone coming new into the community, what was that like? Trying to start out, you're an artist, you want to get involved in the scene. Was it difficult to sort of find your way or was it very welcoming to you?
L: I don't know, because I didn't really come here to do music. It was just something that happened. I mean, yes, anywhere you go, it's going to be difficult when you transition from where you're used to you, your home. It was a little bit for me to get adapted to the whole situation and stuff like that, but I've conquered that to a certain level.
W: And you obviously have a supportive community behind you now, right? There is this whole scene like we're talking about that is being built and it is growing, so clearly whether there were difficulties at first or not, you've found your place here.
L: Yeah found a love for this place, man, and it's great. Winterpeg! I never thought I would have ended up in a place like this, but sometimes who knows where you will end up. I guess you have a greater purpose at hand than what you think you might want to do in life, so as I said, I didn't come here for the music, I just wanted a change from my place in the Cayman Islands. It's just like music found me, kind of a thing, during my journey.
W: I was going to ask about the Cayman Islands, because I think a lot of people have this impression with reggae that they associate only with Jamaica, and there's so many other countries that have developed their own sound -- especially in the Caribbean, but even elsewhere. England has a very specific reggae sound that has developed for decades now too. What was the music like when you were growing up? I don't thinkk people have -- I definitely don't have -- a grasp on what the culture is like in the Cayman Islands.
L: Yeah, it's diverse. You have your rock station, you have your reggae station, your R&B, your rap... it's a diverse place as well, so it's a diverse music. We're influenced by all of those things from a tender age, so it wasn't just reggae -- it was different influences. It was Matchbox 20 and all these guys.
W: Right, the same stuff that was probably being heard here.
L: Yeah, so it was a diverse place and it wasn't that hard to write the songs that I write, because I was always, you know, conditioned from a tender age with influences and different genres of music.
W: If someone is hearing you for the first time on the show and they want to check out more of your stuff, what's the best way for them to hear you? I mean, obviously you want them to come to the show, but I think it's sold out.
L: Right, yeah, yeah, sorry.
W: Where can they find you online? What's the best way to track down your stuff?
L: The best way they could follow me is on IG. To hear the music, Spotify is there -- Lyberal with a y, L-Y-B-E-R-A-L, they can find me there. Youtube as well, same thing, Lyberal Music... or just type Lyberal and hit enter. It'll come up. We only have a few out right now because w haven't released the whole album as yet. I think it's on the day of the show or after we should release.
W: As I understand, you can also watch it on Twitch or something, right? How does that work, the Twitch part.
L: I think that it's on the website, or the show pass, because we have the virtual and actual -- what do you call it, the actual ticket thingy. So they have a virtual one also, so you could go on that and you could get more information off of that. If you don't understand, or anybody is having a difficutly in finding it, just... Lyberal Music on IG. Message us, or message me, actually, and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.
W: I guess the Instagram and stuff is probably the best way to find out about upcoming shows and things like that, or what would you suggest?
L: Yeah, that's the one, or the website, lyberalmusic.com. They could find that out as well.
W: The good thing about this being a podcast is that someone could hear this the day it comes out, but they can also hear it a year from now and by then you could have new music out hopefully, play a lot more shows, so it's always good to have the point of contact so people can check you out whenever they listen to this -- whether it's right away or they wait three years.
L: That's good, because the interview thing is kind of not my forte, but I hope you understand. Even if it's a year from now, then you know the growth is definitely going to be there. I always challenge myself to do better and better and better.