Studio Vibes: Beats and melody at Grafton

January 19, 2018
A mural on the outside of one of the walls at Grafton Studio in Vineyard Town, St Andrew.
Tamo J
McKada (right), Mikey Bennett (centre) and Tamo J inside one of the studios at the Grafton facility in Vineyard Town, St Andrew.



On Wednesday afternoon, a song was being shaped in one of three recording studios at the Grafton complex in Vineyard Town, St Andrew, and hoops were being shot in the front courtyard.

In the studio, producer Mikey Bennett was sitting with singer McKada, working on a song she had written. They bounced the lyrics and melody back and forth, Bennett adopting a falsetto to somewhat match her higher pitch. She had a small digital recorder, then as the session went on, the book with lyrics came out. Bennett briefly explains to THE WEEKEND STAR, "she sent me a song, I heard the chorus and said 'wow!'But the melody was a regular singjay melody.

McKada and Bennett picked out individual words from the song, among them 'hypocrisy' and 'religion', as the melody was worked on. When it was taken care of, they laughed as Bennett told her "go thy way and sin no more."

There was other music at Tamo J's fingertips - tracks that he has recorded. The slower tempo All I Need is a statement of confidence in and reliance on Jah's love. Smile is more uptempo, and Humble was one of the last songs THE WEEKEND STAR heard on its Grafton visit.

Another man was soon at the board as well - Jamar 'Sonovic' Roberts. He knows a lot about the music Tamo J's voice is paired with, as he made much of it. Roberts did the January 2016 Head Collapse with Dexta Daps, and an EP with Tamo J is in the works.

With Grafton a strong part of the USAID-funded project's musical base, Bennett said that he has also been able to get some of the participants involved in commercial jobs. From that, they have been introduced to the discipline of working with a deadline and clients' specifications - plus the accompanying financial reward.

Grafton Studio also serves as a community hub through its Reasoning with Seasoning discussion series, where soup is on the house and ideas fly thick and fast as a panel addresses a specific topic and interacts with the audience. Bennett laughed as he remembered focusing on Luciano playing the guitar and singing at one session then hearing loud cheers. When he turned around the courtyard was full, "all a woman in her nightie."

The series resumes on February 22, during Reggae Month 2018.

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