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The No-Maddz talk about working with Idris Elba and their new album

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IFETOP10: How was The No-Maddz formed?

Sheppie: The No-Maddz was formed, alright, in Jamaica there is a commission. It’s the Jamaican Cultural Development Commission the JCDC. It was formed by one of our former Prime Minister’s I think, Mr. Edward Seaga. He was integral, he was a cultural man, right. So then now he created this commission and through this commission, we can, we as Jamaicans, and Jamaican children and adults alike, we have a platform, where we can express Jamaican cultural representations, you know what I mean. We can express dub poetry. We can express Sonnet, Psalm and Shakespeare, because that’s our colonial identity as well, you know what mean. So we practice standard English pieces as well. Jamaican dialect pieces, music, drumming, dancing, culinary arts, literary arts, visual arts, plays. So this was a competition. So the JCDC, they hosted this competition annually. And schools all over Jamaica were able to compete for the champion for the parish champion or the national champion, and you would get a gold medal or a trophy.

We attended Kingston College, and Kingston College is a very prestigious all boys school in Jamaica. Kingston colleges is so special because it was designed for the boys in Jamaica who couldn’t really afford a traditional high school education. So ghetto yute school, you know what I means. Its all boys from the inner cities attend KC and building their crafting sports and also drama. So our teacher Peter Hessler. We are entering the festivals year after, year after, year and we were winning, you know what I mean. We were all winning in these categories that I just expressed to you – dub poetry, sonnet, psalm and Shakespeare, standard English, Jamaican dialect, acting, music. We were winning, getting the national awards independently, as solo acts.

One particular year, I think the year was 2001, they wanted to introduce this new category called dub poetry on song, which is a speaking ensemble. It’s a group of boys and girls doing dub poetry. At least seven. So kind of buss we head, because we a seh, we have all the toughest dub poets in the entire Jamaica, in the same school, hemisphere, and we have the toughest dub poets. And we’re saying to ourselves that, we have to enter this category, you know what I mean. Peter Hessler was our teacher the time and he showed me, he told me about the category. He told all of us about it. And we sat in the canteen at Kingston College and we were devising our plan to rule and to take over dup poetry. We wanted a group. So we gathered with all the gold medal winners in dub poetry. That was myself, this brother here, a brethren called Ericado Gail, and a brethren called Shayne Fitzgerald. So we were sitting, and I think brethren Chevan Hinds was around the table too. If you remember him around the table, but I mi neva too remember.

Evie: No I don’t remember him at the table.

Sheppie: Oh, Ok, ok.

Evie: But he passed on.

Sheppie: Yes, is a brethren whey did pass on. He was a part of the group. He passed on from high school days. So now we decided to form this group.

IFETOP10: Where did the name – The No-Maddz come from?

Sheppie: We were throwing out names, coming up with ideas, you know and the names them kinda, neva did a stick. And one of the guys, Shayne Fitzgerald, him seh “…we all over the place wid wi thoughts. Comin’ like nomads” And then I and I now, because I and I, personally am from a poetic background you know, very political. My father is a poet. So everything mi hear, it sounds like poetry. And mi si things with words. When mi hear words mi si tings. So then now, mi seh “hold on. Yeah! a it dat”. And then we start to dissect the word now and seh NOMADS, is the original Nomads, the original traveler, the origin man. The man who walk about the place and bite the pepper to find out if its hot. When it burn him, him seh “Oh! can’t eat too much of that”. So it’s the original doctors, the original shepherds, the original journey man. You know what I mean. The original traveler.

Evie: The original you.

Sheppie: You know what I mean. So then now we know what the Nomads are, we know what the Nomads is. So now we seh NO-MADDZ, because the “Z” a fi di style. But then the hyphen separates the No and the MADDZ, because Kingston College boys, we have this confidence about us. So we’re saying we’re mad, but we nuh madman, you know. Because we intelligence high, we were saying, you know what I mean. So we were saying, yeah! we mad, but we no mad man. So that is how we said No-Maddz. You know mean, playing with the “Maddz” by itself, and playing with the “No” by itself, to show you the symbiotic relationship of the two.

IFETOP10: Who were your inspirations back then?

Evie: Charles Hyatt

Sheppie: Charlie Hyatt

Evie: Before he died.

Sheppie: Oh my word.

Evie: Charlie Hyatt is a great impeccable actor scene, and we ah go school dem time deh. He’s probably the only actor who is driving BMW.

Sheppie: Always in him suspenders.

Evie: Cleeean!

Sheppie: And him little pouch, little belly, Ahahaha!.

Evie: I remember one time we were at Ward theater before it dilapidated. We’re at Ward theater, he’s like on the second floor and he’s giving notes. And him just put up him foot like a Dj on the monitor. And you just see red socks project from the back of the stage.

Sheppie: The things you remember bro, the things you remember bro. The nuisances.

Evie: Yeah! true because mi love how him did carry the profession. Because at the time the profession wasn’t, it didn’t have the reverence. Financially or even from people in a sense. Because then it wasn’t one of the favorite professions for a family member to say, I’m going to be an actor, dub poet or.

Sheppie: [clap] Whey you say? [clap] Whey you say you wha be? [clap] Lawyer, [clap] Doctor, [clap] Indian and Chief.

Evie: Ok, I’m a chief, The chief of my own decisions.

IFETOP10: The No-Maddz started as a collective of about 4 or 5. Now you are down to 2. What are the challenges of working as a collective?

Evie: No challenges, you know what I mean, pretty smooth. Working now as a collective, as what it has upgraded to right now. Feels light and its all good. Embrace and move forward. You know what I mean.

Sheppie: It’s good that we get to experience this thing, you know what I mean. Because you’re talking about from high school days and we pull other members. Because No-Maddz is that kind of thing, you know, it’s all over the place. So one day we might hear you with a beautiful song and we do a collab with you. you know what I mean. But the thing is, it is free spirited. So if my brothers get up one day and say that, hey, I want out. There is no way we’re going to stop you or we’re going to say stay in. Hold you by gun-point and say, what you’re doing? Don’t go. Because then that a go diminish your returns. You know I mean? You’re not going to have the full support of everyone. You know I mean? So then now, with me and Evie right now, we have the full support. Everyone is focused and it’s full support we’re getting. And now we have an opportunity, it’s like to make the type of music that we connect to. More so to an extent where we’re both very churchical and we’re both very dubical, on a level. Where the dub poetry is concerned.

With regard to the No-Maddz of the past, I would say this. We have had or forever and it was beautiful. Putting into perspective, The No-Maddz of the now, this is our beginning. You know what I mean? So then I can only see a forward way.

Evie: You know it starts with the heaven and earth, you know what I mean. Which is a beautiful project. What is that long big word “commemorate”, the whole vibe of the journey, you know what I mean? And the peace of mind. Emphasize that.

Sheppie: Yeah, because it tough you know. You have brothers that you’ve grown with. These brothers are brothers that we have growth with. Think about it! 20 years you know! Don’t go round it, you know, from high school. We might look young and fresh, but we young and fresh. Hahahaha! But yeah 20 years from high school and we eat together, sleep together, work together, play together, everything. Create together.

Evie: Vibe and sleep together. Ahahahaha.

Sheppie: But a true because one time there was three girls and three boys and we cuddled up together and we slept. Yeah man so we actually did do that sleep together.

Evie: Because we now, we did have to move very smart like how Marcus Garvey show it. Because it was our little antidote against the economical disease called poverty.

Sheppie: You know what I mean?

Evie: We had to be very economical which means we learn to pool resources. Which much, them no teach we that in our culture.

Sheppie: They teach you to separate. And once you try fi do anything whey, that has any form of  united front, people sometimes get scared, them start to question it. Even in interviews the first question people would ask us in interviews is.. Amm! When are you going to break up? They always ask us this dumb question. We always say, we come together as a group telling you about this new song and the first thing you are going to ask me is when are we going to break up? really bro, sis! come on!

But then, it’s like, people don’t expect unity to last. Even marriages. You know what I mean. Most marriages them say end in divorce then ones that actually last. But then, what do you mean? You know. We’ve had our forever. We were married for five years, we were married for 10 years, it’s our forever. We’ve created something. Keep all the great memories, you know what I mean. Don’t keep the fact that one time we decide to separate and you’re going to use that to burn us. What about all our beauty? What about all the great memories that we had?

Evie: I mean, things grow you know. It is the only constant thing, you know, change and changes, you know, whether you judge it to be progressive or non-progressive. You know, just change has to happen for growth to happen.

IFETOP10: This has been a huge year for The No-Maddz, with the “Yardie” film release, album and various collaborations. First tells about the collaboration with The Wizard, Beres Hammond’s daughter?

Evie: I mean, I think that track was like, one of the newest poetic contribution from the now No-Maddz. We had it on another beat before. Yeah! It wasn’t so ah!

Sheppie: Wasn’t so reggae, dancehall, it had a hip-hop bounce to it.

Evie: Yeah. So! After, you know, back and forth thing. The Wix worked on the track and the album. She’s the, the clinical, technical genius over the project, you know. She mixes it, she makes the voice sound good. She even play some instruments to, you know. Her ears hearing where the back-up should be. So we were there and we had an original hook for it but she wasn’t feeling it and it was there and then. I don’t know, it’s just on to the blue, she just sent we something and sey hear this. She’s probably there just thinking. Yow! who we should be mek sing now?

Sheppie: Because it was Evie singing the hook and ting, me harmonise with it and it just did sound too masculine. We actually tried to use Evie’s son to sing that hook and Evie’s son go into the studio saying “I don’t want to do it” and him say “Do it nuh” and him say “alright I’m going to do it” and he give we a little piece and actually capture that little piece and use it in the song too. But then The Wix sent it to us with this voice and we didn’t even know that it was her. Yeah. She said “What unuh think?” we seh “who dis artist yah?”. She seh “Somebody named The Wix. Mi seh “Wah! a you dis?” but you know you haffi go inna the video. She seh “yeah yeah!” because she modest you know. She’s sey “yeah you know, if I have the time” Ahahahah!!

Evie: And when dem find that beat deh fi it. A who find a beat deh fi it? A who play di bass line?

Sheppie: Flabba Holt play the bass line.

Evie: Sticky reggae, authentic bass line. We just sit down pon the riddim, mek we sound like real modern day Linton Kwesi mix up with Keith Shepherd and Michael Smith.

Sheppie: My little brother, he’s also a dub poet you know, he called me and seh “Yow! mi love how you go vintage dub pon dem inna deh one yah!” And mi a seh “Just cool no my Lawd. you know what I mean”. Its just the vibe because we recorded the album at Geejam. Right. And we were there for five days and we recorded back to back for about four days in the studio straight. 15 songs we knock out.

And we were there, but the student itself, it has this. You see when you’re locked down in the studio herb a burn, the right people are in the place, the right beats, the right energies flowing. You’re focusing on nothing else but the work at hand.

Evie: And you have a huge cattalogue weh you sidung pon.

Sheppie: And the talented yute Mountain Lion music – Keno, Troy Baker son. Very talented producer as well, you know what I mean. He was in the studio. Tan John, was there taking the vocals. Mek mi tell you dis. She tek vocals better than most people I have worled with and a brethren named Max from Philadelphia, but that’s another story. Then people tek vocals, its a science you know. This engineering studio work you can’t go round it. A whole heap of work. And once them know it, it look like clockwork. So deh, deh a think seh how easy it is, but them know it, them have the experience, you know what I mean. So that song was as magical as it sounds and as the video appears to be, you know what I mean? So we decided to – that video was a conversation in the living room at mi house, between, you know, Mia who is in our multi-media department, Paul Bucknor who Directed on the project and Gareth Cobran. And we discuss how we wanted the vibe because, you know, its No-Maddz.

Evie: Archer di di deh to.

Sheppie: Archer was there at first, you know. So we discussed how we wanted it and we implemented it. It was a labor of love, actually, because even when I offered Gareth a fraction of what he was worth, him seh “no man Sheppie a wi gift man mi love the project. So Gareth, Vp’d the project for us for free.

Evie: A just the love when we come in town. “The No-maddz in town” thats the name of the track. Yeah, check out that one.

IFETOP10: How did Walshy Fire of Major Lazer get involved?

Sheppie: You know Walshy does the mixtapes for a lot of artistes. He did for Chronixx, he did for Jesse. He did it Kabak. So he was doing mixtapes and we were talking about the mixtapes and we were loving it. We were saying yow! It would be nice to work with dat brethren dey you know. Him look like him energy cool and ting. because we never actually did have the conversation, the dialogue with him. So I was hitting him up on the Instagram, sending him messages and thing, but he was not responding, you know what I mean. I was in New York at a afternoon, a Global Citizens event, they had this is after party and I was in the clubs there and a lot of celebs were in the clubs and you know. Artists kinda party style. And mi step in, and glimpse of familiar face, Walshy and know mi, cause him glimpse a familiar face, me. And mi seh wah gwan? Him seh wha gwan? Mi seh brother mi a try connect wid you for how long. Him seh yeah, how dat? Mi seh Instagram, him seh, no man. And him give me him direct WhatsApp and direct email. Then him introduce we to a brethren from Caribbean Entertainment who represents Walshy as well, they started to communicate with us, because they knew what we went through, this was from 2016. They knew what we went through with the transition, you know. So they were saying that you guys need to communicate with the fans. You need to share something. You need to get back in the game. You got great things going on for you. Send us some music let us hear what’s going on. And we say alright, give thanks for the approach. And we sent them the songs.

We sent them like 20 songs that we had unreleased. Heaven on Earth was one of them. Walshy heard heaven on Earth. We were in the living room, Walshy played Heaven on Earth and him hold him head and he said “Man, this bro, this thing makes me feel like I want to get up and do something.” That is after he did a cartwheel. You know what I mean? So when he heard the songs, by the way, that is the same thing my son said to me, you know, after him hear Mountain Lion and Heaven on Earth. Him seh “Daddy these songs make me feel like I want to do something.” Mi seh interesting, you know what I mean. So when when he said that, I can use that cliche to say the rest is history. Because after saying that now he’s like, brother get me these songs, get me these songs in a next to finished format, with with with new vocals or whatever. So that is when you run off to GeeJam. And we change out a bass line here, change a drum pattern there. Add fresh vocals to them. Change this, change that, mix it up, set it up send it go give Walshy. Walshy go through it and seh give thanks. Send it go give the Wixard and then back and forth, back and forth, back and forth for months. Chiseling away, chiseling away, chiseling away, chiseling away, bring in things. It was a surgery.

Evie: It was an awesome surgery.

Sheppie: And it come farward. You find out some beautiful harmony voices on the project now. Big up the girls dem. Big up Tiffany, big up Nadijah,….. and the backup them on the album, you know, mean. Beautiful, beautiful collaborative work, you know. Love it man. Love it.

IFETOP10: Tell us about the Clarks song?

Evie: So its more like, you know. It’s about breaking the spell of these major business companies coming to developing countries to just pull out, you know, and not putting back any form of nourishing input back into the people, know what I mean? And, as much as it might be our song, it’s on behalf of every Jamaican artistes who wear Clarks, sing bout Clarks, love Clarks, know what I mean? Before now and to come. And we nah go stop wear Clarks. No regardless. Thats not the idea.

Nough people pressure we pon di social media and seh “fashion dread deh man”. Dem nuh really get some ah it. But we want the discussion because at the end of the day to our the beginning, its about our people recognizing their purchasing power. You know what I mean? it already gone so bad with Clarks, but just recognize that whatever you put your financial energy into, it will grow and you’re making an entity that is not yours grow. It’s a big decision when you go to buy that. Its a consumer warefar. Yeah! The financial, the revolution financial.

Sheppie: Yeah, that’s a very bold line you know. A whey you’d a think bout when you come to that line deh?

Evie: Because the spiritual revolution has already happened and the physical revolution has already happened. Yeah! but they not really running down us anymore, so’s to speak, like you litterally have to run off a the plantation, dodge two bullets. That cut out now, that abolish. The  Spiritual one now is on their way to have enlightenment, you knwo what I mean? Everybody’s having dialogue about spiritualism, you know what I mean? Is it as complicated as we make it. All them things, its forward. But we’re still under the financial slavery. Properly!

Sheppie: Because, remember we cultured to think that money is the devil. Yeah! We’re cultured to think that, you know. But its really, if God has money in his hands, he’s going to do godly things. So if the devil has the money in his hands he is going to do devily things.

Evie: And is the pastor have it he is going to buy a brand new Ranger. Ahahahahahaha

Sheppie: It’s just in the hands of who you want fi control the purse strings, you know what I mean?

IFETOp10: How did you get involved in Idris Elba’s directors debut – a film called “Yardie”?

Evie: It’s a dream come true for me, you know what I mean. Deh dere, mi de pon set and you know, boss a walk past mi and mi in mi character a stay focussed, you know what I mean? And Idris seh, stop and seh. “This is it you know. Are you ready for the big thing?” And mi seh AAAHHHHHH!! Head mash up again. I’m like, is this really happening.

It was good you know, CeCiel Barus introduced we to the audition process. For me it was like maybe a space of 8 months or more, back and forth thing. Then when the finally came here and we made the shot list. I didn’t know who was directing it. Then I was surprised at the audition when it came from London. To see Idris, you know, he was very warm, welcoming, you know. I could pull out my spliff from out my ears inna the audition. It was real you know. Him love the team. Him teach you some important things about acting, you know, the emotional bar. He wanted this movie to be at a 4, you know, Jamaican actors are normally at a 10 level. Ahahahaha.

But I would say quickly, I don’t know the British crew. It’s a good experience to see international film crew work you know. It’s pretty smooth to me. I like the whole process. I learned how important time management is and problem solving. And patients that you need and communication is required for making film. And as big as budget it seemed compared to our industry it was still a low budget film. And right now its at the stage where it’s just how the people a go support it makes the difference, you know, with everything. I play the role of Jerry Dread.

Sheppie: I man play the role – King Fox and it was quite similar for me. I learned a lot. Met Idris and he’s also a Virgo like I man so, you know, we couldn’t agree, a joke. We were cool man. Him cool man. It’s like, a call him my big bother, you know what I mean. And anybody we call we big brother a people are really admire, you know me. So he’s like a good brethren to look up to. Him a  6’3 mi a 6’1 so mi literally have fi you look up to him. A good brethren fi look up to in this industry as a practitioner. You know, he can be a practitioner’s role models. He does everything what we’re involved in. He’s a nomad at his game. Him tough man, him tough. Mi rate him. Give thanks.

And the funny thing about it, you know. It’s this project mek mi dive deep into his works. Embarrassing! Mi a go seh it becoming nah get embarrassed. Because mi ah seh how, but it shows you how the media a manipulate wi you know. Because when the media’s saying that Idris is the man, everybody looking at him. But what about the works that he did before? You know what I mean? He has been the man from then you know, it’s just now that is fi him time. And the lights are on him now and he’s doing it gracefully. So it’s beautiful. The boss. Yeah man tough!

One a di time di man seh. “Sheldon don’t, don’t, don’t ah, age him too much. Keep the sexy, keep the sexy” Ahahahah

Evie: He’s an actor’s director.

Sheppie: Mi seh “okay a got him whey you want him now” I love playing King Fox. King Fox was, I always get these characters to play, these larger than life characters. Because even in “Better Mus Cum”, Ricky. Ricky was, even though he was a modest living character, he was larger than life. He was a leader of a gang. A gang of bad men, you know what I mean. And King Fox was a music producer, a community leader, who decided to dabble in the cocaine industry. And, you know, he got frustrated and he was conspiring. It’s beautiful.

And to do that character I drew from, as an actor, you draw from things, you know what i mean, and the personalities and encounters and ting. I drew from a few key characters that kinda influence I man here in Jamaica. Some key business people and key people who the world says are gangsters and stuff. Because as an actor you get to meet special people. real life people.

So I was in studio with Sly and Robbie doing the first album. I met Sly and sly was sharing stuff with me about the music industry and we were talking about hit songs one day. And Sly say “What dem a talk bout hit song. What dem know bout hit sing? Every song you come to know as a hit song has been paid for. So what you a talk bout hit song. A market dem market the song dem to you. And then when you look pon it you say okay them market a song to you. It’s common sense, just like how Socia Bank market dem savings account to you and NCB market the check-ins account to you. And which one dem market that reach you more is the one we gravitate towards. We’re so programmed, you know what I mean. It can be used for beneficial gains, you know. While we are here in this material realm. Can be used, you dig.

So now, meet  all Christopher “Dudus” Coke one time, inna Tivioli Gardens. I was down their on set filming a movie. Dem carry mi go meet the boss. Mi neva even know whey mi ago. mi meet the man, shake the man’s hand. A di softest hands mi eva shake. Mi tell you, on an adult male, its the softest hands mi eva shake. Man hand soft like a baby hand. And him just cool, you know what I mean. And then mi hear tings broken loose and you hear sey man a extradite dis and extradite that. Its just amazing, you know what I mean. I’ve met some important people. People weh important inna earth yah! Very interesting, and mi use it to fuel mi acting. I’m telling you that now so when mi come meet unnu I’m watching you.

Evie: Mad!

Sheppie: But we never see them doing any gang-banging you know. But we hear seh dem man yah a di toughest gangsters round town. And the gangsters want to meet the actors to you know. Because the gangster seh, “yow da role deh weh you do.

Evie: …remind mi of myself. Ahahahaha!!

Sheppie: If I could tell you certain things weh we go through as No-Maddz and artistes. And the people weh talk to we about certain things. High ups and dem tings whey reason with me and laugh and we chat and it just mek we realize seh people are just people, you know. A just them circumstances you know. Not every police is Babylon. Some is just a man with survival plan.

Evie: Not even Babylon in Babylon.

Sheppie: Exactly.

Sheppie: As Muta say. Remember you know Babylon is a beautiful city. You have to overstand that. And we just take Babylon and demonise Babylon. And we no look Rasta. Beautiful rivers inna Babylon. Then a brethren tell we seh Babylon is any system designed to deprived the basic rights of the poor and the needy and the people. So then when we use Babylon fi seh down with Babylon. It’s down with the negative elements of the system, the system that deprives us of our rights to be human and to be human beings and to be free. Yeah! man.

IFETOP10: What is next for The No-Maddz?

Sheppie: What is next for No-Maddz. Well, there is a new booking agency that is very very very interested in the album. And they’re very very interested in booking a tour for No-Maddz. We’re talking to them now. It’s like we’re baby again, you know. We’re brand new, brand new artiste’s again. And it feels good you know. People are listening to the music, and they’re listening to the music with fresh ears. And they’re saying this is fresh. They’re saying “Yeah, I know the No-Maddz”. Somebody sending something to them, they’re like “yeah I know The No-Maddz. What they got something new?” Mi seh, yeah man, you know No-Maddz, but you don’t know The No-Maddz, take a listen. And then they’re like, “Man, this is fresh, this is new. Send me their stuff. We’re going to put our logos on it. Let’s sign them, let’s book. So that is very important for an artiste to have that energy behind you, booking you. To me that is one of the most important thing an artiste can have. If not the most, you know what I mean. You can always deal with your back-end because the monies go nowhere. Once you’re getting paid, its being plaid, its being recorded, you can always eventually organise your paperwork so you can get it. But once you have a booking company that is getting you out there live, with your live act in front of an audience. Feeling you, everybody’s filming you with their phones, and everybody’s tweeting to them best friend and then cousin and their grandma and uncle.

Evie: Especially when it’s new festivals not just like reggae festivals. These different territories.

Sheppie: These guys are not just reggae, you know. And that is the thing. That is why we’ve had difficulty with a lot of reggae promoters and Booker’s because they want to box us in. And then they will say things to us like, Oh my God, we don’t know where to book, you guys. And it’s silly because its music we’re making. Its show business, it’s entertainment. You’re just making an excuse because you don’t want to do the work. You don’t want to actually go out there, put your logos on this and shop something and collect your 15% or whatever you’re collecting. You know what I mean, you don’t want to do that. So it’s a thing where, we’re glad. What is happening know, step by step, step by step, day by day.

Evie: We just have to stay tune pon the on social media handles – www.thenomaddz.com that’s the website.

Sheppie: Please do the website. You have to check out our website. Its www (dot) THENOMADDZ (dot) com. And it’s @thenomaddz everywhere on social media. Two “dd”s and a “z”. Perfection. Keep the O alive. Oh. Ahahahaha!

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