Interview: Ras Jahknow

The Ras Jahknow Band is a Melbourne based act pumping new soul and rhythm into culturally rich roots reggae music. Since their inception in 2010 they have made a name for themselves as one of Melbourne’s most iconic reggae acts.

They have recently released a new single and are currently touring the East Coast, we were able to find out a little more about them in this interview.

Hi Ras, welcome to Beauty and Lace and thanks for talking to us.

It’s great to be here thank you.

How did you meet and form the band?

The first members I met while completing my Diploma of Music @ MWT Institute of Music in Melbourne. As part of my course, I had to complete an assessment that consisted of playing with a live band which was seen by promoters that invited us to play professional shows. Since then I haven’t looked back. Other members through the Music Network.

Can you describe your sound?

Put simply we have an original roots reggae feel and sound. Members of the band come from different parts of the world so there are also slight cultural influences that each member brings, from Cape Verde, my home nation to Mauritius, Australia, Brazil and Ethiopia. Each member brings their own flare to bands sound.

You have recently released the new single ‘What A Gwan’, can you tell us about it?

What A Gwan means what is going on? I’m asking and also raising awareness for people to observe and see that way the things are going we are not going no where, war and pollution across the world, how are we really progressing forward? The lyrics switch between Amharic, Creole & English, in a way this is a metaphor illustrating these issues we face as one world across all countries not any one country alone.

ras jahknow

Currently you are touring the East Coast, what can audiences expect in a live show?

They can expect what we always bring to them: lots of love, positive vibration & original music. We are well known for crowd participation and getting the crowd to join in with us. It is more than just music to us, we see it as an experience that we all participate in, the more fire the crowd returns the more fire we deliver.

Where are you most looking forward to playing?

Anywhere, as long there is somebody hearing our message of unification. That’s the key thing about what we do, it’s about raising awareness for what we believe to be important values in life and sharing that message with people from everywhere and anywhere.

What artists have had the biggest influence on your career?

Bob Marley, Burning Spear, Jacob Miller, Burny Wailer, Joseph Hill, Peter Tosh, Lucky Dube, Garnet Silk…

Can you tell us a little about your songwriting process?

Many ways, depending on the vibe. Some times it will start with lyrics and build from there or we start with the music as the foundation. With our latest single What A Gwan started with the lyrics and then the arrangements of the instruments was made with the band as a whole. So you see we have different ways in which we write our music.

Are you working on anything new you can tell us about?

At the moment I’m focusing on the “What A Gwan” Australian East Coast tour with my band and working on new songs for the next Album. The idea is to support more international acts this year and keep the wheels turning by releasing more material towards the end of the year. We work hard to keep things new and exciting!

What has been the highlight of your career to date?

Releasing the album ‘Jah Sta LI’ independently. I self funded the production of the album but since it’s release the band has reached new levels in what we have been able to achieve. The release of Jah Sta Li really created the foundation that we now stand on. It wasn’t easy, as you can imagine for any artists it can be expensive to fund your own independent release however it is now out there for the world to see and will always be, so it was definitely worth it.

When you aren’t making music what do you enjoy doing?

Gardening & Playing Soccer mostly, family life keeps me busy also!

If you had to pick your 5 top albums of all time what would they be?

Survival-Bob Marley and The Wailers
Bulimundo “Self Titled”- Bulimundo
One Stone- Culture
Calling Rastafari- Burning Spear
Fundo Baxu – Ferro Gaita

What album are you loving right now?

Stricly Roots – Morgan Heritage

Thanks for chatting!

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