Making inroads in Making inroads in Stockholm Stockholm

Sunday, August 19, 2018

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Chilly Scandinavia seems an unlikely hub for reggae music, but in the last 30 years several Jamaican artistes have settled in countries such as Denmark and Sweden. One of them is Denzil Williams Jr.

Williams, an artiste-turned-producer, has lived in the Swedish capital Stockholm for the past 17 years. He has become a bridge between acts from that country and Jamaica who are looking to expand their base.

His latest project is the Change rhythm, which he co-produced with Andre Karlsson. Built around rap icon Tupac Shakur's hit song, Changes (The Way It Is), the beat has 13 songs by a number of top dancehall artistes such as Agent Sasco, Sizzla, Pressure Busspipe, Anthony B and Lutan Fyah.

Saxophonist Dean Fraser also contributes an instrumental song to Changes.

Williams told the Jamaica Observer that his access to dancehall/reggae acts in Jamaica has enhanced his reputation in Sweden. With the Swedish reggae scene growing, Jamaican artistes are enthusiastic about working there.

“The reggae and dancehall culture here is quite okay for a Scandinavian country. Every year we have 90 per cent of the Jamaican reggae and dancehall artistes passing through Stockholm to perform on either club events or big stage shows such as Uppsala Reggae Festival and Öland Roots Festival. Two of the biggest (show) promoters (in Europe) here are Yared Tekeste Goitom and Alex Sjöbäck,” he explained.

Since switching to production, William has worked with Mavado on the song Sadness and All Gal A Mines by Vybz Kartel. Underneath It All, a collaboration with Turbulence and Swedish poet Queen Tress, is another of his latest productions.

The Jamaican/Swedish duet, he noted, has become increasingly popular.

“Most definitely. Because an established Jamaican artiste collaborating with any Swedish artiste is a huge step here in Europe. Huge in terms of publicity, and marketing…I find a lot of my Swedish clients are interested in such joint projects,” Williams said.

The Swedish market has been receptive to Jamaican pop music for some time. Inner Circle's Bad Boys broke through in Sweden before taking off in the United States in 1993; Tanya Stephens recorded the well-received album, Sintoxicated, while living there.

The Kingston-born Williams, who is in his early 40s, has been around the music business for as long as he can remember. His father, Denzil Senior, is a member of harmony trio Wadadah, which has recorded and toured with Stephen and Ziggy Marley.

While he is currently assembling a new recording studio and rehearsing facility in Stockholm, Williams is keen to establish himself back home.

“I do a lot of work in Jamaica as well with artistes there. In the future, I will maintain a base in Kingston where I can interact and work more with the artistes in Jamaica,” he said.

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