Smooth Northampton Afro-dancehall man Dreadz brings the goodness wherever he goes, and latest single ‘This Wave’ is no different. With momentum building for him New Boots took a moment to get to the man behind the music.
What’s your Northampton story?
My family is actually from Northampton, born and bred; my grandmother [rest her soul] moved here in the 1950’s, she was secretary to former prime minister of Jamaica Alexander Bustamante. My mum lived up here the majority of her younger days, before moving to London where she had my two older sisters and then me , so since I was young I’ve always been in-between London and Northampton. At 14 I moved up to Northampton to live and which is where I reside currently with my girlfriend. I always said to my mum that I wanted to experience the town for myself and so I did. I put on for Northampton so much because of my family being from here and is my second home.
How did you start on this musical journey?
Musics always been in my blood: literally, as my dad was a sound technician and worked with many artists while he was alive, from Toots & The Maytals to Bob Marley & The Wailers to Dennis Brown. His music journey was legendary. My dad passed away when I was three so I don’t remember much of him, but the stories I hear of the man he was is who I aspire to be and that’s brought me onto the musical journey which I embark on today. I always had a love for music, but never really knew what my talent in it was like what would I do. It was when I was 14 when I discovered I could spit a few lyrics having always liked poetry; I used to always go to a Benjamin Zephaniah book when in the library. My friend Eli, our families are very close, he brought me to his uncles studio hussla d, and that’s where it all started.
How would you describe your sound ? Who are your main influences?
I would describe my sound as a Afro Dancehall, pop, rap, R&B style. I’m very versatile in what I do, and can switch up my style at any given moment. It’s hard put me into one category as I can do the majority. My main musical influences…I would say number one is Wretch 32 without a doubt. I could listen to Wretch all day – slick lyricism, different flows, but the bars they’re deep and that’s what always catches me about Wretch. So he definitely influenced me to apply to my work them killer lines that make you think. Vybz Kartel also on the dancehall side for me someone I listen to – just straight raw with it, what can I say his the worldboss, innit. Growing up I listened to a lot of music at family parties; you hear it all and I just stuck with whatever stood out to me. I’m not really fussy when it comes to music as long and I can bop and nod my head I’m nice.
‘Magnet’ and ‘Fever’, your 2018 singles, got a lot of traction, which really set you up for what followed. That must have been very satisfying, to get that immediate audience…?
2018 was actually my first year doing music properly in terms of actual music videos. My friend Ridwan who I went school with in Northampton hit me up and said “I’m doing a few music video projects bro like what you saying you want to work on a project together?” And me at the time I was like “well boy I haven’t put out a video before so why not trial it now”, so I sent him a few songs with ‘Magnet’ and ‘Fever’ being amongst that. Those were the two which stood out to him the most. I decided to go with ‘Magnet’ first and that got very good reception; I dropped it on my own channel and the views shot up within the hour. I couldn’t believe it – just goes to show that people will really support you when they know you got talent. ‘Magnet’ is now on 10k views on my own channel, which I’m very proud of due to the fact that in that year I had no YouTube channel. I made it so I could put the video on there to test the waters, and it worked since creating my YouTube channel I am now on over 500 subscribers and just aim to keep getting more. ‘Fever’ was my favourite song all the while then, and when I dropped that I wanted it to be heard so I dropped it on Linkup TV to appeal to a audience different from my own with all my views on my channel being a majority of people I knew mainly. With both them tracks being dropped within a short time span of each other helped grow my social media, also I had new people reaching out to me to tell me I’m good and keep up the work it will pay off. It also opened doors to new opportunities and new collaborations with artists. For people to just love the music I make is enough for me, I don’t need anything else; that alone makes me happy.
Tell us everything about this new one, ‘This Wave’.
My latest single is a vibe I created one day when I was having a smoke – I put the beat on and it came to me. This track just describes how I’m going to take over, hence the words “but you might drown tryna get on this wave” and how I want to grow in life and prosper, but we all know that comes with hard work. “But to be a king got to work like slave” and that’s the seed I’m planting in ‘This Wave’. I got to give a big shouts to the video director Witness his artistry and smooth edit really brought the video to life. Got to give him big props for that the beat producer as well -daniyelbepo who reached out to me through Instagram sent me a few beats and I use one for ‘This Wave’. Eli San: goes without saying never a complain when he mixes and masters my track, perfection always.
You sometimes perform at the Lay It Down nights locally. How is playing live for you, does it teach you more about what you can do artistically?
Yeah I support the Lay It Down movement, I respect what they’re doing so whenever they got an event I’ll come and support, whether that’s in the audience or on the stage. Doing events like that help you build your stage presence and confidence and that’s the main reason I do it, because practice makes perfect. I love interacting with the crowd and making them sing my song back to me; that’s one of the few techniques I’ve picked up since performing live – just making the stage yours. We all have one chance to step up on there and perform, so when you do you have to make sure you leave an imprint on the crowd. Big up the Lay It Down crew for showing me love, also they can shout me whenever the weather.
How do you see the ‘scene’ in Northampton currently? Are we truly building something here?
The scene here in Northampton is amazing, so many talented artists of all ages and being up here for a while I’ve got the chance to see the growth in them too . I would say we’re building a strong musical platform for sure; the only thing we’re lacking right now is the support from outside, and sometimes for one another too. We’re all gonna win, just at different times.
Favourite Dreadz moment of the past year?
I would say is performing at my cousin J Kaz headline show [in London last July]. It was a memorable moment for me, because I was performing to a new crowd and a big one too so the nerves did kick in. But when I got on stage they just drifted. I performed one of my unreleased songs called ‘Moonlight’ and it just went off the feedback was amazing. Out of my many memorable moments last year that’s one of my favourite.
What was the last album you bought or streamed?
Stormzy Heavy Is The Head; a wicked body of work from start to finish.
What is your burning desire for to do in 2020? What plans do you have?
My plans is just to kill it. I don’t want to give away too much, so I’m just gonna show you. We have a lot planned.
This Wave is out now on all major platforms