At barely 35, Germany's most successful reggae singer Gentleman has made himself a name as a tireless ambassador of reggae. Indeed, with masterly albums like "Journey To Jah" and "Confidence", he has given this genre a new, distinctive profile and the kind of contemporary relevance which reggae lacked for a very long time. Moreover, Gentleman has long since become an internationally renowned star. He is a recognised constant in several European countries as well as South America, Africa and even the US. Wherever he goes, people appreciate the artist's charisma on stage as much as his reggae hymns, dedicated to Consciousness, Righteousness and Tolerance. He recently performed in Brussels, Belgium, where he took time to do a short interview with GertozZz before going on stage.

GertozZz: Hello Gentleman. Have you ever performed in Belgium before?

Gentleman: Yes, we already played in Brussels, Ghent and indeed on the Reggae Geel festival. It doesn't really matter if I'm performing in Belgium or Jamaica. It's music, it's a universal thing! Of course people in Jamaica react different than in South America or in Belgium. If we are on stage we just do music and we don't think in categories.

GertozZz: If they would drive you to some stage and you would not know where it would be, would you be able to recognize the country by the reaction of the audience?

Gentleman: That's an exciting question, maybe you cannot exactly say the right country, but I would know the direction. In South America, people are more into roots music and in New York, Kingston or London people are more into dancehall, hardcore stuff. That's how I create the playlist, see the people, try to feel what they want to hear. You need to be flexible, versatile and spontaneous.

Gentleman (Photo: GertozZz)
GertozZz: Did you ever have the feeling that the people were bored with your music or that they reacted bad on certain lyrics?

Gentleman: All the time, but there is a difference between what you think and what the audience thinks. And what the audience "really" thinks. Sometimes you get the feedback and it is totally different than what you are thinking. You have to be connected to yourself. The moment you go away from yourself and you start thinking too much about what people in the audience are thinking you're going to lose yourself. You cannot please everyone all the time, it's all about the main vibe you have to deliver. As long as I see some smiling faces in the audience I reach my goal.

GertozZz: Are you a musician yourself?

Gentleman: I play little piano and I know a little bit of guitar chords. I leave it up to the band mostly. A good song starts with a good chord. Then you find the rights lyrics. It's never the other way around.

GertozZz: Why did Gentleman become a reggae artist and not a hiphop or an rnb artist?

Gentleman: Reggae is the most versatile music that I know. It's the most universal music. You have reggae, dub, roots. It also has hiphop influences nowaways. Everybody is an individual. You cannot compare someone to the next. I love reggae music!

Gentleman (Photo: GertozZz)

Gentleman (Photo: Jan Garrevoet)
GertozZz: You worked together with artists like Alborosie, Bounty Killer, Luciano, ... Who's still on your wanted list?

Gentleman: There is not such a thing as a wanted list. I'm doing this for almost 20 years now and I realize it's very important that you have a connection with the artist. It's very intimate to do a song with somebody. You need to have a vibe together. Every combination I did is about a connection. You cannot plan it, it just happens. The record company does not tell me what to do. I can do whatever I want! I can do my albums the way I want it. I can deliver the best work when I'm free.

GertozZz: Is there a marketing strategy behind your albums?

Gentleman: Oh yes, there is a strategy behind it, but I'm the one who decides which songs I want to release. I don't really care about which song is going to be the single. I leave that up to the record company because in my opinion every track could be the single. (Laughs) They don't pressure me to do albums, but they just kindly ask if I can manage to complete an album by 2013 for example.

GertozZz: Ok! Reggae Vibes wishes you the very best with the rest of the tour!
Interview by GertozZz
(Please do not reproduce without permission)