|Although he's been around for about fifteen years, reggae connoisseurs and fans alike didn't discover the exceptional talent of Richie Spice until 2004, when the song "Earth A Run Red" across the "Sweet River Rock" riddim emerged from obscurity and proved to have such a worldwide appeal that it became one of Richie Spice's biggest hits to date. The singjay's robust, commanding vocals coupled with solid lyrics, make him stand out in an industry that produces artists a dime a dozen. With an unmistakably distinct style, Richie Spice merges singing and deejaying into an unique art form, being able to define two art formats quite clearly, alternately singing or deejaying on his signature tracks. Many thanks to Heike Wollenweber of AXE-S Media.|
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: Rockhall, St. Andrew, Jamaica.
Q: How was life there?
A: My childhood was fun, living and growing up with three sisters and eight brothers who could all relate and share with.
Q: Any friends from schooldays who have persued a music career?
A: Not that I am aware of. They are scattered, I think a few play instruments... not sure.
Q: Having three brothers in the business (Pliers, Spanner Banner and Snatcha Lion) it's obvious that you're coming from a very musical family? Did you all get the talent from your mother and/or father?
A: Both, as a balance - father was a drummer, mother was a singer.
Q: Was it your earliest ambition to become a singer?
A: Well, the music was in my blood from younger days, tried other professions but came right back to the music. Couldn't escape it.
Q: Your real name is Richell Bonner, but as an artist you are known as Richie Spice. Why did you chose this moniker?
A: Pet name is Richie. Spice is the variety of life based on the type of music that I sing. The two names came from a natural vibration.
Q: Who would you credit as main influences, musically speaking?
A: Couldn't credit any one person. Icons in the business yes, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Jacob Miller, Burning Spear, who I grew up on their music while living at home.
Q: How did you start off your career? Participating in local talent contests?
A: Yes, a club about 5-10 chains from home. Used to perform on weekends. Helped to build up vocals and confidence.
Q: Who was the first record producer to recognize your talent?
A: Dennis Star.
Q: What year was that?
A: ... Don't remember.
Q: What tunes did you record for this producer?
A: "Killing A Sound".
Q: Did it lead to any response from local reggae fans or other producers?
A: It wasn't really recognised... but my courage and confidence was built out there and encouraged me to persevere.
Q: In 1995 you hit the Jamaican charts with "Livin' Ain't Easy". Can you recall your thoughts and feelings when you heard that tune being played on the radio for the very first time?
A: It was a great feeling, it made me stronger to know all the works that I had put out, someone was listening. It gave me an extra driving force.
Q: "Earth A Run Red" brought you overwhelming success in Jamaica and overseas. Were you surprised it did so extremely well? After all the song was released almost five years before it finally became an international hit.
A: I felt joyful, to see that the song returned and came out to be such an inspiring song. It proved to me that whatever you do, you should do it to the best of your ability because that is progressive and it will have longevitiy.
Q: Do you write all your songs by yourself?
A: Yes, but I am not selfish with my music, so I do get some help from persons who are around me when I am writing.
Q: How's your approach, lyrically speaking? What inspires you when you write a song?
A: A lot of things, people day to day activity, natural things happening worldwide.
Q: You firmly established your name with roots and reality tunes, but you also record songs like for example "Grooving' My Girl" and "Uptown Girl", which deal with matters of the heart. Why?
A: Well, it's a balance, we also have to remember to help uplift the ladies, during their day to day trodding.
Q: Your debut album "Out Of The Blue" is almost impossible to find, probably because it hasn't been released internationally. Can you tell us something about that album?
A: The album was released by Clive Hunt, don't know which territory it was released in. Do not have much to share about that album.
Q: Your second full length album, "Universal", was released on the Heartbeat label in 2000. It lasted five years before your next album, "Spice In Your Life", was released. Why did it take that long?
A: No support, just trying to survive in the struggles.
Q: In 2004 you signed with Kingston based management company/record label Fifth Element. What did that do for your career?
A: That organisation helped I a lot. Couple videos, administration team, took my career in hand and helped I rise a little above the ground level.
Q: Earlier this year you left Fifth Element. What was the reason for leaving them?
A: Growth of any progressive individual. I would like to do something for myself.
Q: In the past two years three albums were released, first "In The Streets To Africa", then "Africa Calling" and last but not least "Gideon Boot". Can you tell us a bit about that "Africa Is Calling" a.k.a. "Motherland Africa" set, which was released by Penitentiary Records?
A: No clue about that album, have only heard about it.
Q: Can you explain why you chose "In The Streets To Africa" as title for your third international album release?
A: Africa is a place that needs a lot of attention, we are just bringing in back the promotion of Africa to strengthen them on that side of the world.
Q: You scored a hit with the Donovan "Don Corleon" Bennett produced "Brown Skin". However the tune also engendered controversy. What's your comment on that?
A: No racial partiality intended. Just trying to once again uplift the chocolate brown skin empresses along their daily trodding.
Q: For "Gideon Boot" you worked with Bobby Digital? How was working with him?
A: He was very professional, and he provided some foundation rhythms that once and still have an effect on the reggae music. The experience was great.
Q: "Gideon Boot" is your strongest album to date. What can we expect of its follow up?
A: More words of righteousness, songs of upliftment to all and more songs of 'itinual' redemption.
Q: Last question... Recently you were going to perform in Holland, but in the end it was cancelled. Can you clarify why you didn't show up?
A: A three week tour was booked that neither me nor my manager have any knowledge about. It was just presented to us after we heard the rumors that we were scheduled to be in Europe.
Q: Thanks and nuff blessings!
Interview by Teacher & Mr. T|
(Please do not reproduce without permission)