This Saturday, June 18th, The Green will be playing a special acoustic show at The Knitting Factory in Brooklyn. This is a special event and we were lucky enough to connect with JP Kennedy from The Green before the show to talk about their music, the show and the upcoming album.
RN: Reggae In NYC
GR: The Green
RN: Reggae In NYC was able to see you last week in Westbury, Long Island with Rebelution, Stick Figure and J. Boog in the round, tell us a little bit about that show?
GR: Westbury, that was a bunch of us that were playing a venue, that was different. I think it really showed with the energy and the performance. We all had a blast. I think if you were at that show it was definitely a special experience. That venue is crazy.
RN: What was it like as a performer to play “in the round”?
GR: It was different. We have never played anywhere like that. It was kind of nerve racking at first, we weren’t used to spinning around. But it was sick, the vibes were good, the crowd was good and I actually want to do that again soon. It was badass.
RN: Tell us about the show at Knitting Factory, it’s going to be an all acoustic set?
GR: It’s coming in doing a little acoustic set. Going to be just taking it down with our acoustic guitars. We like to do that because it allows us to showcase the vocals, the harmonies and lyrics. It’s not too crazy more mellow. It should be another Westbury type show, but on the acoustic side.
RN: Any chance we get a guest appearance at the Knitting Factory?
GR: There’s a chance, yeah, there’s a chance. You never know who is going to be in the house. There is always a chance that someone pops up and we jam together. Kanikapila, backyard jam style.
RN: Tell us about the new single “Roots” that dropped in January and then “Mama Roots” in June with J. Boog?
GR: They are doing great. We have a bunch of new songs. We are trying to put out an album and we keep working with more people on new songs. We just put out a couple singles. The album is actually ready. ‘Roots’ is a super sick production with my boy Christian (Mochizuki) out there in Honolulu, then ‘Mama Roots’ with J. Boog. Both are exciting tracks and just a little glimpse into the future with some of the music that we have. We just can’t wait to put it out.
RN: You had an opportunity to work with VP Records on the We Remember Dennis Brown album, doing the track “Promised Land.” What was that like?
GR: They approached us with that opportunity and we jumped all over it because it’s Dennis Brown. They let us do probably his dopest track as well. That’s what we think. We were like “yep, we’ll do that”. They sent us the track we worked on it a little and sent it back and it was done. It was pretty quick.
RN: When can we expect the next album? Any previews you can tell us about that?
GR: Yes, we are almost done. What we are doing is just getting a lot more technical with stuff and sampling different engineers and sound guys to get different perspectives on the songs. We are also writing a lot more. It’s just crazy. In the last six months we have got some new management and there have been a lot of changes in the organization so it’s finally at a place where we are all hands on deck. We are all ready to rock. Things have just been moving and changing and getting better. Hopefully we will wrap up by August and then come out soon after.
RN: We heard DJ Graves is helping supporting the project?
GR: DJ Graves, my boy Christian (Mochizuki). Eric (Rachmany) from Rebelution is on a track. We are working with Jr. Bleneder and a couple other cats. We are trying to spread the reggae like you guys are out here, you know what I mean? We haven’t put anything out in two years so we have put a lot into it. We want to give the people what they are asking for.
RN: I know in the band you all sing and you all write, so what is that process like when you are putting together a new album?
GR: Well, we all have different strengths and different qualities that we bring to the table. Some of us are producers, writers or a combo of both. It happens a lot of ways. If someone has an idea, they bring it in and we will take it to the next level. If we have a melody idea we will send it to somebody and get a riddim track on it. It happens a lot of different ways. We have a lot of friends and a lot of support. It’s pretty easy for us to create. It allows us to bring what we have to the forefront and let it shine.
RN: Hawai’i ’13 starts with a chant and it reminds me of the Nyabinghi drums and chanting we see on many other Jamaican albums. Why did you decide to kick off the record with that?
GR: Well I’m not sure if you are familiar with Hawaiian culture, but we have a what’s called a Kumulipo, our creation story, basically our bible. Until the 1800’s it was only passed down through song and dance, there was no written or log of it. It was handed down through stories or song and dance. We thought it was right to bring back that style of performing arts, though it only got called performing arts recently. Hawaiians grew up telling their kids the history of the lands through hula and singing. We just wanted to bring that out. Kumulipo take 5 hours to recite. It’s 16 verses of creation starting with water and coral all the way to volcanoes and all that. It’s pretty crazy, Google Kumulipo, you will trip out.
RN: You have said that Hawaii ’13 was a reference to Hawaii ’78 a great song by Kawika Crowley, although most people may know the Brudda IZ version?
GR: Hawaii ’13 is a reference to Hawaii ’78. It’s another way of us expressing the tradition and the culture and what we are trying to do. Moving forward with the land. We all could do better in our daily lives with the environment and everything. Hawaiians have a lot going for them when it comes to the ecosystem and taking care of the things that feed you, warm you and clothe you. It’s all about the next generation, providing for them and that’s the bigger picture of Hawaii ’13.
RN: What do you think the past leaders of Hawaii would think about you taking this music to the world?
GR: I think they would be proud. You know we are natural voyagers. The Hawaiians have been traveling the oceans for thousands of years. There are Hawaiian artifacts in Africa dating back to 1300 & 1400. We have been everywhere. We know it because it is passed down through stories. They would be proud because we are voyaging in the most current crazy way you can. We have a show in a different city, seven days a week talking about this. Sharing out passion and our culture through reggae music. It has been a massive vehicle for us.
RN: Every time I see you on tour you shout out the opening act and you end your show with a group bow. What’s that about for you?
GR: At the end of the day it’s about family. That’s what we are and that’s why we are where we are at. Because everybody on stage, everybody in our crew, everyone on the bus, the openers, we are all here together looking after each other. We have to keep each other safe. It’s a crazy world. Plus touring you always end up in these gnarly cities and you gotta be careful. For us to be able to actually make it to the stage, perform and have a good time, you can’t overlook the simple things of life and the blessings. That’s where that comes from.
RN: We have seen you play in NYC before and you have an incredible fan base out here, tell us a little bit about that?
GR: Every year, every time we come, it has been better and better. It’s a crazy trip for us because New York is such a big place and such a gnarly like concept to Hawaiians. Not too many people from Hawaii get to come out here. Hawaiian Airlines just stated flying here direct and it’s just kind of a distant fantasy. For us to have shows here that do really well, it's a crazy feeling. We read about this place and we see it on TV and we hear so much about it. But to actually be here and experience the vibe, the people and the way the city works, it’s amazing. Just what New York is, just such a beast of a city and we get to have a piece of it. I tell my family about it and stuff like that. My nieces, nephews and cousins, they will never really get it until they come. It’s special to us. There are locals out here, Hawaiian people and feeling them out here is another trip. Connecting with my hometown so far away is just a blessing, especially when we are all homesick.
RN: It seems like we are at a place where we can stop calling this West Coast or Hawaiian reggae and just call it great music because you travel the world.
GR: That’s what we like to say. We like to say world reggae. It’s not about any type of spot. Of course we pay most respect to the Jamaicans because that is where we feel reggae exploded from, but you can’t just call it Jamaican. Who really know where it actually originated from. Music just keeps evolving from the first person who banged rocks on a wall. You got to stop segregating stuff and putting walls up, we got to break them down. You are right, it’s just one, it’s just music.
RN: Anything else you want your New York fans to know?
GR: We want our New York fans to know that we love them. We look forward to seeing them every time we come through and this time is no different. Knitting Factory, Brooklyn. We love Brooklyn. We want to see you. We want to see you come out so we can share the new music with you guys. We want to give you that vibe that you have been looking for. That you have been missing out on.
RN: What reggae is playing in your ipod?
GR: What reggae am I listening to right now? Last night in the car we were listening to Aswad a song called ‘Tradition’, some of that UK reggae.