Amp Fiddler - Fiddle Me This
Get ready for a soul-reggae mash-up explosion as Amp Fiddler join forces with Sly & Robbie for Inspiration Information. 3D’s Fat Tony talked to the former about the release.
Strut, a subsidiary label in the prestigious !K7 family, has cooked up a new series. They're pairing up modern artists with their musical heroes and inspirations. First off the block is the joining of Detroit electronic soul wizard Amp Fiddler and the legendary Jamaican rhythm section of Sly & Robbie, two of reggae's most prolific recording artists. Whether it's a match made in heaven or not is a matter for Jah himself to deliberate on, but in the physical world the match took place in Kingston, JA. Amp was flown in and offered three days recording time with the duo.
“We shook hands, talked for about 20 minutes and then went straight to work,” shares Amp, now installed safely back in his Detroit pad. “It was a beautiful thing, that's my work ethic too, what do we have to talk about, lets make music!”
“I'd seen [Sly & Robbie] before but I'd never talked to them.” Amp testifies to their influence on his own sound. “I've been a big fan of Island music, my dad was from St Thomas [in the Virgin Islands], so I've listened to a lot of Island Music. I've played in reggae bands here in Detroit, calypso bands, so I already had a piece of that culture, my dad's from the islands you know. I'm a big fan so that made it work out really great for me.”
Sly & Robbie (drummer Lowell Dunbar and bass player Robert Shakespeare), and Amp managed to record 12 songs in the time they had together. “We covered soul, funk and reggae. That's what I would say. And of course there are electronics because we all love electronics. I think they loved electronics as much as I liked things that are electronic in their past history. We recorded some things with drum machines, and then overdubbed one at a time. But then sometimes we did the organic reggae track with just drums, bass and keyboards all playing at the same time. That was really cool, having that ability to try so many different things.”
Two more musicians joined them in the studio, taking the total to five. Walter Brown was the guitar player that Sly & Robbie invited along. They also played with percussionist Uziah “Sticky” Thompson, another prolific artist who's worked with Bob Marley, Lee “Scratch” Perry and Burning Spear during his time.
Amp's keyboard melodies and vocals guided the songwriting. “I brought some new songs that I had, and I brought some old songs that I thought would be good to remake. And I played things for them that they listened to and see what they liked, and we made decisions based on that. Sometimes we would just come up with ideas on the spot and work like that too, because I wanted to do something different. I'd say 'lets do something with these chords I'd just made', and that was cool too.”
Although Amp had visited the island infrequently before this, it was his first time recording in Jamaica. I asked him if being there changed things- “It does! The vibrations are a world of different. It definitely sets a tone y'know- If I was to come to Australia to record it would be different as well.”
And how about the next Amp Fiddler record- “I'm writing... [Amp pauses, then chuckles]. It's definitely about to happen. Next year, it won't be first thing next year, but you'll hear it at some point.” And does he think the time with Sly & Robbie will have an influence on that record- “Possibly.”
WHO: Amp Fiddler
WHAT: Information Inspiration through Strut/!K7/Inertia
WHEN: Out now