WR856: Black Lantern

Episode 856 December 22, 2023 00:37:21
WR856: Black Lantern
Witchpolice Radio
WR856: Black Lantern

Dec 22 2023 | 00:37:21

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Hosted By

Sam Thompson

Show Notes

Reggae and dancehall artist Black Lantern is on the show!

Here's our conversation about his long family tradition of making music, his other creative outlet T-West Dance, reggae’s enduring international appeal, finding acceptance and collaboration in Winnipeg’s diverse music scene, and much more!

This episode brought to you by our pals at Devine Shirt Company.

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Episode Transcript

WITCHPOLICE RADIO: I'm here with a new guest to me, and I think that people who listen to the show for a long time, who know me personally, have kind of got the idea that whenever there's an opportunity to talk to someone making any form of reggae music, I'm always sort of jumping at that chance. Because that's what a great deal of my own personal listening is and has been for the past 30 some years. It's always been a genre that I've been really into. Sometimes a little too into. And it doesn't come up very often in Winnipeg, as I'm sure you mean. It seems like there's a scene that's growing, which is great to see. But I think the best way to start this off is if you want to introduce yourself and maybe get a bit of background about what you do as an artist. BLACK LANTERN: As an artist, wow. It's a lot. Before artists, I was selecting on sound system. Crazy about just being in love with music. Just to grasp my hand on what I can learn from whatever can give me that spark. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Yeah. BLACK LANTERN: And so much because I come from a musical background, which my uncle, they are all musician. They play instrument. My grandfather also, he was a saxophone player. He played banjo. So it just come down in the bloodline. My father is also an artist and an engineer. He lives in Toronto now. And my mom was also a singer, and she teach dance. And also. And my grandmother come from a musical. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Just so you had no choice. This was in the blood. BLACK LANTERN: Yeah, everywhere. And my uncle, them, they accomplished a lot in the music. They play for big artists back in Jamaica. Like any artist from Beenie Man, Bounty Killer, Sizzla Kalonji. Well, they listen so long, and I just love to be around those guys as I look at you growing up. And I just get a feel for him. For music. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Yeah, for sure. Well, and your current project, the Black Lantern, how long have you been doing this? BLACK LANTERN: Probably about less than 15 years now. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Okay. BLACK LANTERN: Because this project is new, but I keep changing my name because I teach dancing also. So it's just like going through the tunnels and just try to figure out what to keep from what to not keep. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Okay. No, fair enough. Yeah. Having that sort of family history of music and then being intimately involved in the music business that way, was there always sort of an expectation when you were growing up that this is something you wanted to do? Like, had you always sort of intended to make music, even as a kid? BLACK LANTERN: Yeah, as a kid, it was a big shoes to fill, because even though the young generation didn't grasp the music as much like what our elders and our uncle, they passed on leave. Some of them are passed, some are still here, but we didn't grasp as much. But there was everything there at our fingertip to just take and just use. We have from sound system to studio to keyboard to everything was there. So I was the only one, I think, so far, that really stick to it and use it. I use the dancing and the singing, and I do a little bit of engineer. I do a little bit of designing. So my head was like, oh, I don't know what to do. But it was lovely. Just find a spot in music where I help people to reach and connect to themselves. I mostly do the roots part of the music, but I can sing, like, cover songs. But my real passion is, like, telling a true story about reggae music and where it came from. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Well, first of all, I guess, how long have you been in Winnipeg? How long have you been here in Winnipeg? BLACK LANTERN: Well, just been two year and a half now. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Okay, so what is your impression, I guess, at this point. I know, like you said, you haven't been here that long, but what is your impression of kind of the community that exists for reggae and dancehall and all of these other genres here in the city? BLACK LANTERN: Well, Winnipeg have a lot. I don't know how people don't appreciate what we have here at Winnipeg. The broadcast, the good friends that love music, like Ezoman, Bubba B, DJ Bunny, DJ Disspare. I've just been connecting with so much different. It's like I'm at home from home in Jamaica. It's crazy. The platform that's here, that's different. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: That's awesome to hear. Do you think, as someone coming to know from elsewhere, I've lived here my whole life. I've been involved in the music scene here my whole life. So I have this. My perception of what the local music scene is probably different than yours would be or anyone coming from outside of Winnipeg. Did you feel it was very welcoming as an outsider coming into the community? BLACK LANTERN: Yeah, it's very welcome. There's so much project even now that's coming up since I'm working with Ezoman and the whole production team and just going to studio and meeting all the great talents that's here. Everything is just giving me that spark again, like that feeling when you just got something new and you just want to try it out. Yeah. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Well, like I said earlier, I know you have a bunch of music that's online. You have some songs that have been recorded and released. What is sort of your goal for this coming year? Are you hoping to put out an album or an ep or anything like that? BLACK LANTERN: For now, I wanted to put an album, but the single is more better when you put out a single and then you get back a feedback from it and you just sit there with something else. I have so much project that I have in the pipeline, and I love doing collab because I love to tap into people resort. That's just me. It just opened a way to tap into people resorts that way, and it just opened my fan base more. Instead of people just like, oh, he just do reggae music. So they don't have a second thought to book me for any kind of showcase. They're going to be like, wow, that's him. That's him. They're just going to keep seeing things just keep popping up. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Do you think there's a lot of opportunity to do that where you're kind of playing across genres, where you're playing a show, maybe with a bunch of hip hop artists or other genres and everyone coming together? BLACK LANTERN: Definitely. I see it. Division is here right now. People just need to just work together and just cut out that divide and stuff. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Yeah. BLACK LANTERN: And it's just love, because music is love. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Yeah, that's a good way of looking at it, I think. What is it about reggae music that you think? Obviously you have that background, you have this family heritage and tradition, and this is the type of music that you grew up with. What is it for you, especially roots stuff, too, that makes it still lasting and still powerful and still something that is appealing after all these years? Because at this point, a lot of that stuff is the originating stuff is decades and decades and decades old, and yet it persists and it maintains and it's still a really vibrant style of music. What do you think it is that makes it last and makes it continue to appeal to younger people. BLACK LANTERN: Wow. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: I know it's a big question, but... BLACK LANTERN: I'm going to get into it. Before there was electric music or anything, it was the roots of the drum, the punjab, the han, and just the feeling of where it coming from, the message and what it means to those ancestors in time. Transparent. Because before reggae music, it was calypso and dinky, mini and kumina, where you would have a sound system and you don't get the go ahead to play the sound system. You cannot play that sound system. People just want the drumming to connect to their soul and the music, the roots of it and everything have to have the roots. If you try to take away the roots, that's why any music can go and bust R&B. It doesn't matter which genre, heavy metal, souls and bus. But people got to come back down similar to the root. And they're going to be like those music never die. And that's what Elvis Presley do and all of these great Bob Marley do. And before Bob Marley, they just keep using the roots and just polish it and just put it out there. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Yeah, well, and that's why it's worked internationally too. That simplicity of it. People can get directly to the core of it and the soul of it. And it translates into different languages and different cultures. BLACK LANTERN: Exactly. And everyone feel it. That's why Bob Marley, he figured out that. And even when he didn't have the strength to go. But as long as I show he's got the strength because he know he's creating a platform. So it's going to always stand through the test of time. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Does reggae translate to a place like Winnipeg? I mean, a place where the population of Jamaican people here is relatively small compared to some other Canadian cities and culturally and climate wise and a lot of other things are very drastically different than sort of the origin of this music. How do you think it translates to the culture here and to music fans here? BLACK LANTERN: Well, Winnipeg now is like a melting pot and everyone is trying to like, this is my logo. This is my logo and this is what I'm sticking to. Everybody want to tell their story, which the platform is here, but we have to find a way now to connect the dot because now you have French and different genre of style coming in. So it's a lot. And reggae. People love reggae. Yeah, but it's going to take a time for Winnipeg. But we love all genre of music here in Winnipeg. And that's what's the greatest thing. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Oh, for sure, yeah. I mean, I've been doing this show for 800 and something episodes and everyone from country to metal to punk rock to reggae to r and b. I mean, jazz. This city is so diverse as far as music and as far as the cultural backgrounds too, that people bring to it. Definitely. I've noticed that going back a few decades when I first started getting into the local music scene would have been in the mid-90s. And there was a lot of reggae happening. There was some big festivals that were still going on, a lot of local bands. And then for a while it seemed like it kind of died down. And then with only one or two or three bands still playing, and then now over the past few years, it seems like it's really grown locally. There's a lot of artists that are coming out, know a lot of festivals starting up and things like that again. And it seems like there's a lot of this is happening in communities outside of Winnipeg as well. Seems like Brandon and Steinbach and all these other cities in Manitoba are sort of discovered not discovering reggae, but they're opening up to it and developing their own communities. Have you had any opportunities to play in some of those other communities in Manitoba? BLACK LANTERN: Wow. There's so much of them. Like, I wrote with Irel festival, and I'm now working with Soca reggae Fest, and I work with Afro Caribbean. So whenever they have their show, if I'm not dancing, I'm singing. One or two of my son. I work with Raw project. I work with one, Tanner, this guy from West Guinea, best from West Africa. He do the live drumming and Soca Reggae show. So I work with him, and I'm releasing a new single with Ezoman, "Motherland." So it's a lot of stuff in the project, and we're looking to get that playing on the airwave and get the video out after and stuff. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Cool. BLACK LANTERN: Good amount of stuff in the pipeline to sit fine. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: It sounds like it. Yeah. I know we're talking about music here, but the dance side of things seems like it's a very big part of what you do as well. What is your background? BLACK LANTERN: Oh, my. I've been working for this company in Jamaica before I come here, where we go to different resorts. I enter all the big competition in Jamaica, like dance and dynamite, which goes on every year. So now they open into the school because they did have an age gap, but now 20 or 18 years old can enter. But, okay, that's the bomb. And you have all the new dance that you see now going on TikTok and running the place. It's dancers that usually look up to us paving the way. They cannot wait to get the age to can start performing. That's all my history about music. It's a lot. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Yeah. Do you feel like you have to use a different part of your brain, maybe when it comes to expressing yourself through dance and expressing yourself through music? Or is it the same sort of coming from the same root within you? BLACK LANTERN: Yeah, I stick to the root because everything is how you queue and timing, so I never forgot those things. It doesn't matter. If I'm going to sing a song, I can rip it up. If I'm going to use a video, I can rip it up same way, like the sound and splice in what I need, what I think, flow more, or have a different sound. Okay, so it's the same thing for my dance, right across the board and anything at all. It doesn't matter. Everything is count and timing. It doesn't have to matter with singing or what. It doesn't have to have anything to do with music. It's just how you prepare your mind to attack whatever you're going to do well. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: And I guess having a good sense of rhythm is going to help you in both cases too, right? Obviously that timing, if you have that timing down, you're going to be able to handle either dance or music because you got that kind of innate beat. Like I said a few minutes ago, reggae has become this international thing. It's in unlikely places like Winnipeg and in Europe, it's huge. In Asia, there's Japanese reggae. It's all over the world. It's everywhere. BLACK LANTERN: I want to take a trip to Japan. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Yeah, they love it there. BLACK LANTERN: I meet some dancers from Japan and it just opened my mind, like, wow. The way how I see they move. But I'm noticing. I noticed the timing. Like I said, I pay attention to timing. They got the mind structure, they got their body structure for it. But they still have a slight timing different because I'm more the base person. You can put me in a bass box and I will be in there. Okay. The bass could be hitting me because that's what carry everything. That's what carry the high mid, the low mid, the bass. So I'm the bass person. So I watch everything cleanly once, come on to music and listen. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: With things like that... with, you know, artists from Japan. And I think you're right too. A lot of these different countries are taking their own sort of cultural music and mixing it up with reggae. And so the timing is a little different or sort of the lead instrument is a little different and they're focusing on different aspects of it. But does that internationalness because you can connect with anyone in the world on the Internet, does that help the fact that you can now reach with a video of dancing or your music or you can reach anyone anywhere? Has that been a positive for you? BLACK LANTERN: Yeah, it helps a lot because back in the days, I'm just going to transfer a little bit. Before CD, there was record and it was good because to get a record, when a record come out, you have to make sure you're up front at the line. You ain't going to get that record if you're late because the line is long. Everybody need the new stuff all the time so the music doesn't stop. And after CD come in now and you can just calm down like Bird CD and then the Internet, it just make it a lot easier. Well, some people love the digital, some love the analog. I love them both. Once it's music, I'm going to singular with it and try to learn something new and see what I can take from it. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Yeah, well, I mean, I'm definitely more of an analog person and I know, I know. I mean, it was very different here because if you wanted to get something from Jamaica, you'd have to special order it or there'd be one copy in the record store and you'd have to be the first person to get that one copy, or you have to order it from Jamaica or England or wherever else. So, yeah, I know the struggle well. BLACK LANTERN: That was a journey. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Yeah. But now you can get it from anywhere. Now you can just type a couple of keys and you can get reggae from any country of the world. I mean, it's crazy. BLACK LANTERN: So that's why now I think what make people love it more is just there because you would have to fly to Jamaica if you want to enjoy the roots and get to know the roots. But no, you can just go on your phone and watch. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Yeah. BLACK LANTERN: And then you just get up, feel. And then if you feel, you just take a trip and then just go. And people are like, oh, you know that. But it's out there. And the barrier difference, it makes a lot. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Definitely. You don't have to go find a book or a magazine and read up about an artist. Now you can look them up online and it's right there in front of you. BLACK LANTERN: Right? Yeah. When you go out to a session like you feel at home because you feel the enjoyment. It's really about the enjoyment. That's where music come from. That's from our ancestors days. That's where it come from. Sound. I remember I was crazy about the conch shell. They would blow the cohort and stuff like those. It just opened your mind. Whenever I hear that it takes a lot because that's coming from a place of Life, of breath out of a human being. To blow a kung shell or a heart or even to blow a saxophone. Those instruments just blow my mind. I love all instruments. Doesn't matter what. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Yeah, there's something very organic about that. Versus a synthesizer or something on a computer. Right. Because there is physical. The person is making that sound with their mouth, which is incredible. BLACK LANTERN: Takes a lot. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Yeah. Where can people find your music? If someone is hearing about you for the first time on the show and wants to look you up online, what's the best way to find out about what you're up to? BLACK LANTERN: Yeah, I got music on Soundcloud and I haven't signed up yet on Apple Music, but I'm going to try it out. But Vevo and all those things YouTube and I got lots of my clippings on TikTok. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Do you have any shows or anything coming up in the new year? BLACK LANTERN: Yeah, I have a couple shows coming up and I'm looking to a little bit after the new year. I'm looking to work with Raw. We're going on a project with them in Toronto. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: I mean, Toronto is huge for reggae music too. There's a massive community there. BLACK LANTERN: Yeah. So I'm really glad that they thought of me and stuff and I'm ready to tap into. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: And then as far as the good thing about this being a podcast is someone could hear it the day it comes out or they could hear it a year from now, and by then, who knows what you're up to? You might have a lot of new music out. You might be doing a lot of shows. What's the best way to find out what you're up to as far as events and things like that? Is it just following you on social media, or where should someone go? BLACK LANTERN: Yeah, on social media, like T-West. That's my dancing project stuff that I keep on TikTok and on Facebook and Instagram. And I have a couple more pages that I'm working on because I just thought that. Yeah, I just thought to organize it into two now, because before I just have the one with the dance and everything, I was too much at once, but now I separate it. So you can follow Black Lantern music and T-West dance. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: What is the significance behind Black Lantern? Behind the name? BLACK LANTERN: Before Black Lantern, I was working with Sing Song, because anytime you see me, I'm dancing or singing. Or if I glimpse, like, a mirror, it could be a car mirror, or in the shopping area, you could see your reflection. I'm always just, like, dancing. I always have an earphone, and I'm always humming something. So I think that's how I came up with the name Sing Song for. And then my friend said, Sing Song? No, you need something more, because this is my friend scratchy. Now, he's from Jamaica, and he was living in America, but he went home now in Jamaica and in Kingston doing music. But that's the guy that I start out with, and then I meet so many persons because he's a DJ also. So anytime we link up, we're just talking about music, making music, and we go out and play on sound system. I'd go to different areas and just meeting lovely people. True music. Oh, I miss those days. Those are good days. But he said, you should change your name. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: so why Black Lantern? What is the meaning behind the name? BLACK LANTERN: The meaning behind the name. When I look it up, it's a very powerful name, and it's dark, but it's connect to me. Like, when I choose it and I look up the meaning, it's connect. It means light for the darkness. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Okay. BLACK LANTERN: And when I think about it, all those years of doing music and with the violence barrier, which I don't want to talk much about, I just want to talk about uplifting stuff, I realized we go through some various time and making the platform with music and just going out there and trying to reach for our goal. There was a lot of barrier, which I didn't notice until now I'm here. I was like, wow, did I really went through that? But it was a learning process to know that what we're doing, we're paving the way. And I think what all artists never should get or never should put aside, they should think we're paving the way. No matter how tough it is, just put God and just be the best version of yourself. So I really like the name. It really suit my character. Cool.

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