Interview of Keith & Tex @ La Semaine du Ska in Toulouse, France
Last month, on October 31st, 2017, we had the opportunity to interview the Jamaican Rocksteady duo Keith & Tex at La Semaine du Ska in Toulouse, France.
Keith & Tex’s musical experience
Jamworld876.net: Could you tell us about your first musical experience in a recording studio both of you individually and/or together as a group.
Keith: Right… Well we began together. Individually we didn’t record. You know, we sang otherwise but we began as a group in 1966, and our first recording was for Derrick Harriott and the first song was “Tonight”. And… so that was 1966 and we recorded for about four years for Derrick Harriott, and in 1970, I emigrated to the USA.
Tex: Yeah…. Well so in 1961, I emigrated to Toronto, Canada. That’s where I’ve been ever since.
Keith: So most of our songs were done in four years in Jamaica, back in the 60’s, and then. So you know, it lasted over 50 years.
Jamworld876.net: After the four years, you’ve recorded together, what else did you do in your musical career?
Tex: Okay, so [here’s] the history: he & I was together for four years, right, that was my only exposure to the music business I never after. He left Jamaica in 1970, and after that I lost interest in actually recording because we were with Derrick Harriott for four years at the end of that time he was not satisfied with how the things were going. So you know, it wasn’t a really nice experience after a while.
At first it was great but after a while you realize that. You know, so I said a chance came, an opportunity came to immigrate to Canada and there’s was not a lot of Jamaicans at the time that came to Canada, Toronto. You know, the music scene for Jamaican music was not that big. So I was forced to kind of look for regular work and fortunate enough to get a good job with the Canadian government. So I started a family. That’s how it worked out.
Keith & Tex’s latest album “Same Old Story”
Jamworld876.net: Why did you choose to get the music of your album recorded in Spain and not in Jamaica?
Tex: Because Roberto Sánchez, who is the producer, he is famous for reproducing Reggae, the Rocksteady sounds that we used to get in Jamaica. So when we heard about that we were naturally interested because most of our music is from the Rocksteady era. So we hooked up with him. We agreed that he would send us some music, and we agreed that we would write some lyrics, make songs. As it happens, it turned out pretty good.
Jamworld876.net: Yes, the album is really great.
Keith: We are very proud of it.
Jamworld876.net: There are some riddims that are the same as on Alpheus’s album.
Keith: Yeah, we knew that going in, but we wanted to do something else, something different on that. In fact, even now Alpheus’s new album is out and he used the one of our rhythms, you know, on his new album. So it’s all good.
The Reggae Revival Movement
Jamworld876.net: All right. Have you heard about the new Reggae Revival Movement, that is going on in Jamaica with new artists such as Chronixx and Protoje?
Keith: Yeah, we know of them.Jamworld876.net: What do you think about their music?
Keith: I think Chronixx is top-notch, el numero uno. He’s really good. He’s got a good style of singing and the harmonies that he has. Plus, his lyrics are very, you know, current, so I love his music. I play his music all the time.
Tex: Chronix is a special. He reminds me of somebody who could dominate the scene. You know, maybe like really not close to that how Bob Marley would have, kind of, you know. Again, it’s too early for the comparison but I think he’s…
Keith: If he stays on the same track he’s on… he’ll be around for a long time, yeah. He’s a really good artist.
Evolution of Jamaican music
Jamworld876.net: Why do you think there’s no more Rocksteady music produced in Jamaica? Do you know why? Do you have any idea?
Keith: Because, you know, the music has moved on. Remember there was Ska first. Ska moved on to Rocksteady. You know, it was fast then it got slow, and even slower. So it’s evolution, you know. People come up with different ideas and they try it, and then somebody else likes it and tries it too, and then it becomes a fad that everybody starts doing, you know so.
I believe that Reggae, Jamaican music can grow and take different forms and still survive, you know. So, I think it’s all good. You know that there’s good music in Dancehall, and Rocksteady, and Reggae there are bad music too, but you know it all because different people like different music. Some people like classic and some people like Rocksteady like us.
Tex: Rocksteady had a short-lived timespan, but there are some better songs that wereproduced in our country came from the Rocksteady era, you know, and you’re right. It didn’t last long enough to really have a great effect but I think people are rediscovering some of the merits of Rocksteady music. So, I wouldn’t give up on it just yet. There is still time for it to reborn and rebirth.
Keith: And the other thing is, if I ask you to name me a dance or a song 10 years ago. Name one.
Jamworld876.net: 10 years ago? 2007 there might be like Sean Paul music or Shaggy or there are many songs.
Keith: Name a song. Name one
Jamworld876.net: I don’t know, I would say: Sean Paul “Temperature”?
Keith: Okay, all right, so name a song from Rocksteady.Jamworld876.net: Name a song from Rocksteady? Keith & Tex “Stop That Train” [Laughs]
Keith: That’s my point. My point is that, during that period, you know, that short period. Memorable songs were made. John Holt, Paragons, Techniques, The Melodians. These are songs that everybody who loves Jamaican music knows, you know.
Tex: Foundation riddim them.
Keith: Yeah, and they keep remaking them. So it tells you something.
Jamworld876.net: Yeah of course.