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This is BrukOut! Seani B talks to Christopher Ellis

NEXT GENERATION: Christopher Ellis is making some big waves in the UK reggae scene

“I'M READY Seani, trust me, it’s time for me to go even harder.”

Strong talk from Alton Ellis’ son Christopher, who has taken to the reggae game like a duck to water. Anyone who has followed Chris’ career will probably know the background story – he is firmly entrenched in the Marley’s

Ghetto Youths International camp, and has been lauded by the great and good of the genre as an artist in his own right.

However, over the last few years he has only released music sparsely, and I can tell this is a source of some frustration for him.

“My single “End Of Time” was released 2 years and 7 months after it started to be played on radio across the world – it wasn’t available to buy and was just a straight radio hit, which was sad for me because it was the first tune I wrote after my father passed”, he tells me with clear exasperation in his voice.

So why the delay? What could possibly make a single release take over two and a half years?

“The song gave me a lot of problems from an industry perspective and when the success never followed I got very down about it, but Gong (Damian Marley) always said to me that my career can’t be built just on one song and that I should keep on with what I was doing. That motivated me”, he says defiantly.

Is he actually recording a body of work for his fans or will we just get the odd single here and there? Chris is positive on what the future holds.

“The album is coming – I don’t want to put any specific date on it, because I have been saying different dates for so many years so I don’t want to jinx it any further, but it is coming I promise. We are probably about 80% of the way there.”

His tone is somewhat surprising – it seems that Chris has the best of all worlds – a great pedigree, signed to the Marleys record label and an obviously talented writer and performer. Is the business of music getting him down?

“Having a good record is only half of the journey”, he says, “I’m learning the business side as I go along even though I have a solid set up behind me – the elements of promotion, building and working a record are so important.”

A quick search of YouTube brings up some priceless videos of a very young

Christopher on stage with his father – immaculately dressed and singing his heart out!

“I started my journey in this business on stage when my dad performed, but I didn’t do much studio work so I am learning that element. I give thanks because my journey isn’t as hard as a lot of people. My father opened so many doors for that he didn’t even realise…I have had a head start over many artists because of who he was. People expected me to sing over my Dad’s tunes all the time but I made a stand from the start of my career that I was always gonna write my own material and make an individual stand for myself in this game.”

The fire that burns brightly inside Chris means that being regarded as being his own man is very important to him.

“I’m getting booked on shows as Christopher Ellis in my own right – next month I am off to California for an event to perform with some big hitters like Tarrus Riley and Chronixx. It’s a good look for me and where I feel I need to be.”

Speaking to him shows me that Chris just hasn’t changed over the years – he is the same person at heart, and this humility has been highlighted as an issue in the past.

“People say I am too humble”, he says with a sense of irony in his voice, “I don’t believe that to be the case – I’m just the same guy that I have always been. You’ll often see me backstage at shows wearing my baseball cap and tracksuit top – that’s just how I am.”

Same old Chris, but now he is (finally) armed with a bag of new music, including his current track “Here We Are”, which is doing very well. The lane he is currently in sounds very comfortable for him.

“This is my world right here – I was listening to some riddims with Stephen (Marley) and when this beat came on I told him tostop – I heard the melodies I needed straight away and went back to the hotel and wrote the song that night. We’ve shot the video now and that should be coming very soon too”.

The excitement is clear.

However juggling a career which sees him trek back and forth from the Caribbean to London can’t be easy, but he seems to make it work for him.

“For me I love it – I get fidgety so I love to keep moving – whether it is a show in Europe or spending two months with Gong and the team, I’m all over the place. My family are used to me being a musical Rolling Stone”. The ease in which he feels with this lifestyle could be largely in part to growing up seeing his father constantly on tour, and performing across the world which meant he was always leaving the UK to hit the road. So where feels like home now?

“I have a love affair with Jamaica, but I do love London. I wouldn’t want to live in Jamaica full time, but I really love it and can’t let go of it easily.”

The recognition and slow build on his career on both sides of the world is a main reason for this dual life.

“When my dad passed in 2008, Gappy Ranks was mashing the place with “Heaven In Her Eyes” and “Put The Stereo On” and I was thinking how much I wanted some of what he had so I reached out to him and we worked together -­ I wanted to get some of his vibe in what I was doing.Fast forward a few years and we are now co-­headlining shows together, and toured Gambia together last year. I feel like I am in the elite school of UK reggae artists like

Gappy, Stylo G, Bitty Mclean and Randy Valentine.”

I wanted to know what he thought his father would think if he was still with us in the flesh?

“My Dad would love what I am doing. He always said “Christopher, write songs, write songs”, but I wasn't interested at that time. I have this recurring dream that I reach out to play him some of my music and every time I try to let him hear something it doesn't manage to get heard by him, but each time it is a special track I am trying to let him here.

“I know he would be proud of me”

As someone who has seen Christopher's hard work, great attitude and progression, I share this pride too -_ and long may it continue.

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