Interview: Stylo G
While Usain Bolt nabbed the headlines from last year’s London 2012 Olympics, emerging dancehall artist Stylo G also did his fair share of limelight stealing after his single Call me a yardie dropped. The fierce record gained him much notoriety in the world of dancehall and beyond and suddenly, after years of working, writing and recording, Stylo was a man in demand.
Despite last year’s rapturously received release, it’s been a steady rise for this underground-turned-overground star. As son of the legendary dancehall star Poison Chang, he was weaned on music from a young age and has been spent some time honing his sonic craft. Since Call me a yardie, another single Winter Swag and his turn on Jodie Connor’s Talk have also done well in setting out his musical stall.
But this year, it’s new release, Soundbwoy which everyone is talking about. It’s already been hammered in the clubs and on the radio by the likes of DJs Toddla T, Robbo Ranx and Mistajam while a recent tour with good-time bashment selectors The Heatwave has also done much to set him up for a big 2013.
M recently quizzed Stylo on his music, meeting Olympics star Usain Bolt and how he’s swapped rice and peas for kebab and chips by moving to the UK…
How did you first get into music?
I learnt about music through my dad when I was young and living in Jamaica. My dad is Poison Chang. He used to be an entertainer and artist in Jamaica. He had a song called Press up which did well in the UK, the US, Japan and all over.
Seeing my dad breaking barriers and going across the world on these tours inspired me. I just knew that music was definitely for me. I started listening to the songs of Beenie Man, of Bounty Killer, listening to the older generation of Jamaican artists who were ahead of me.
When I came over to England in 2000, I started writing songs, learning about songs, how to put them together and how to make a hook.
So you spent much of your childhood in Jamaica? How does dancehall in the UK compare?
I left Jamaica when I was 14/15. My childhood was spent over there, then my teenage life in England.
It’s way different in terms of both culture and the music. Jamaica is more sunny! It’s always sunshine down there. It’s a country where financially it’s not that great but we make the best of our culture, the music and the food.
Coming to England wasn’t really my choice. But I went along with it and found it a totally different environment. People just move so fast. Everything is so speedy. You can’t be late. When I go back I’m in a different world and I love that about the place.
How has this influenced you musically?
For me to come up with music that the UK can relate to so well, I had to be a part of the culture. After getting used to rice and peas every day, I started getting used to my chips and chicken, then kebabs! It shows in my music. Little words I use and stuff like that is to do with me growing up in the UK.
Do you work with a variety of different producers?
I was producing my own stuff up until 2012. Then I started working with different artists. Other people started saying ‘it’s now time to get on your stuff and push it out Stylo’.
So I’m now working with new songwriters, producers, artists. It’s a pleasure and a blessing as I’m learning more as I go along. I love producing but I’m giving my music a chance to let other people get involved.
Where did your songwriting skills come from?
They came from performing. Before I had a name I was doing gigs but I’m Jamaican and my patois was and still is quite strong. To get people to understand me, I couldn’t just spit bars. I had to create a picture and a story for them and after a while, I got used to creating stories through my songs.
Are you working towards an album?
I’m just working on singles at the moment and letting different audience hear Stylo G. Now it’s about different people hearing my music and hearing what I’ve got to offer. Shouts to 3beats my new label. They’re pushing it now and Soundbwoy, my single, is out. It’s a good look.
How do you make living as a dancehall artist?
I have to generate income otherwise I would have gone back to Jamaica. But Europe is just next door. They’re loving my stuff – I’m getting dub plates, getting bookings.
The good thing about dancehall is that you get paid for dub plates. And that’s our own money. It’s not good to talk to figures but I’m also getting a certain amount for a live performance. I’m making a living out of it.
When I first started back in 2000, people used to have doubts and say you can’t do it. You’ll have to go back to Jamaica and go back to your roots. But I disagreed. This is where I live now. My talent is going to speak for itself no matter where I’m living.
What was meeting Usain Bolt like?
I was on the Pumayard tour alongside these big acts like Professor Green. I was excited. At the end of the tour Bolt came down. He was friends with some of the guys I went to school with so the connection was there. He was bigging me up on the mike and got me on stage. It was a crazy and an experience, trust me.