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Meet Jamaica’s latest rising star

DIGITAL NATIVE: Fittingly for a member of the up and coming generation, Tessellated rst got a following on Soundcloud, then moved on to reach fans on YouTube and Spotify

AS I sit to write this, I am recovering from a very full-on weekend at Glastonbury. For once, the sun was beating down, the vibe was on point as always, and there were some notable highlights from our music involved in the festival. Big up Koffee and Sean Paul who represented, as did our very own Alicai Harley.

Now that the sun seems to be out and staying out (let’s hope I am not tempting fate by saying that), we are about to brace ourselves for the slew of “summer” records that will land in the inbox over the next few months.

INFLUENCES
A couple of years ago, one of the highlights was a tune that seemed to latch on to many markets – from radio to clubs – called Pine And Ginger. The tune went on to achieve big things across the board, and the man behind it was Tessellated.

“I’m a songwriter, producer, MC and more besides,” he tells me down the line from Jamaica. “I started playing drums at six years old and also used to be in a steel pan orchestra.

“I went to music school and knew that was what I wanted to do – I started making productions and that’s how Pine And Ginger came about.”

You can hear a wide range of in uences in the work of this 21-year-old. I was interested to know who caught his ear.

“There are so many people who I listen to and take inspiration from – I have the foundation from the dancehall scene, but also have influence from jazz and R’n’B. The music still has the reggae bass lines, but it also have high musicality.

The jazz influence helps me to push the boundaries and I noticed that with people like Herbie Hancock and Miles Davis. When I started producing more and more, I realised I needed that influence in my music.

“I used to DJ at small parties and stuff and was leaning towards the electronic side, and people used to tell me to lock this off. People wanted to hear dancehall stuff and it was tough for the fusion side of me to show.

“People are always resistant to new things, and I knew it would be hard to do what I wanted to do, but over time, people’s mentalities change. Pine And Ginger was a turning point for me, as it allowed me to be true to myself and to know that it worked in the Jamaican market was a blessing.”

I can echo those sentiments. When I heard Pine And Ginger being played in the regular street dances, it initially surprised me, but it also showed me as a DJ from overseas that the mindset had changed and the routes for the new Jamaican creatives were now more open than ever before.

“I agree with that,” he says. “I feel like my whole generation has a similar mentality where we have grown up online and listened to all sorts of music from all over the place, and I feel like many music industry people don’t give credit to the general poplation in Jamaica and think they only want dancehall and reggae.

“It is true that they listen to that more, but some of that is down to the fact that it is what they are more exposed to, and once they are given different options as to what they should listen to, they actually like it and accept it. It just takes someone to give it a chance.”
This new online generation were the first to migrate to Tessellated’s music. He first got a following on Soundcloud. He got reposts from many bigger producers who had a genuine love of the music, and this transferred to YouTube and then Spotify.

All of this happened before radio in Jamaica, then the rest of the global territories – a marked difference from the traditional radio and street dance approach.

COLLABORATION

It’s a big moment in his career right now. He has just engaged in a great collaboration with Apple (yes, that Apple), and once again the digital community seemed to be the way it was spotted.

“I had this song – I Just Learnt Some Jazz Today – on Soundcloud, which was about three years old. It’s more of a hip-hop, jazzy track, and one of the Apple team heard it and liked it.

“They said there may be a possibility of it being used for a campaign, so I lengthened it out to three minutes as it was only 90 seconds. They liked it and it got released on the advert for airpods last week.”

The release has been phenomenal. Not only the five million-plus YouTube views in three days, but the industry reaction has been incredible across the board. A great look for Jamaica, and especially for New Gen JA. His phone must be blowing up…

“The calls have been coming in. I’m just trying to get to work with people who want to help elevate what we do to a higher level,” he says. “I’d love to work with the likes of Koffee, as she has that wider view that I have a similar leaning towards. Also Octavian from the UK – I’d love to collab with him – and also Chance the Rapper. I love his stuff. It feels like people are taking their own roots and fusing it with other global sounds. I love the fusion wave and I’m just happy to be part of it.”

He’s definitely flying the Jamaica flag high, and next time you put your airpods, on just remember who helped to sell a few units via the advert...

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