Studio Vibes: Katalys works on different sound
Alternative Music at 5 Keesing Avenue, off Hagley Park Road, St Andrew, is the kind of creative space that hosts showcases of the polished musical product in its Keesing live series as readily as it does work in progress to fine-tune the performers' sounds before they goes public. On Wednesday evening, it is the latter that pulls THE WEEKEND STAR into the studio to hear the Katalys Crew rehearse its music.
It is not, however, the Katalys Crew as a full-fledged band as it has been before, and bass guitarist Paul Barclay (who also chairs the Jamaica Association of Composers, Authors and Publishers) explains the new-look unit. It is, essentially, a duo with himself and singer Shalom, whose late 1990s hit Baby I've Got News For You preceded conversion to Christianity in the early 2000s.
Now, with Barclay as the musician/producer and Shalom as the vocalist, their definition is "a roots inspirational reggae band".
"The message of love is there," Barclay said.
There is still a Christian grounding, as with Katalys in its larger iteration. "We always did social commentary," says Barclay.
That was clear from the songs they played, the core Katalys duo complemented by percussionist Mark Anthony and guitarist Levoy Paul. Playing in a small studio space, there was no holding back as Shalom sang the lyrics to Conqueror.
During Chant, he said that if the great Bob Marley were around that is what he would have sung. Then they broke into Heathen. At one point, Anthony got up and the guitarist tapped on the body of his instrument to keep a beat as the bassline rumbled and Shalom's voice resounded through the speakers.
It was an in-studio rehearsal presentation of two of the songs Barclay and Shalom have been working on. The producer told THE WEEKEND STAR that they have about 14 songs so far. In addition to those two, there are To God Only, Travelling On, Breakthrough, and Woman, the last done in 2017 in response to a number of murder-suicide tragedies.
"We are going to do music that has a message, based in love," Barclay said.