Our latest interview comes with Jovi Di Pree, the multi-talented producer, composer, writer, beat maker and artist from Spanish Town with credits on some of the biggest singles and riddims in recent memory in dancehall.
Join us as we discuss the dancehall industry with a true industry insider. Hear from Jovi, the issues that are facing the industry and how things need to change to make sure that musicians are getting the credit they deserve.
Let’s start with the simple questions, where are you from in Jamaica?
Jovi Di Pree: “I was born in Spanish Town, St Catherine, I have been back and forth to Portmore”
What were your first experiences of creating or being in music?
Jovi Di Pree: “In Primary School I sang on the choir and learnt from my neighbours.
I created my first beat at age 12, I was introduced to a demo version of Fruity Loops”
What were some of the early influences on our outlook to music?
Jovi Di Pree: “It was an amalgamation of what I had heard.
In Primary school I studied music theory, I played the piano and practiced music from Beethoven and Mozart”
How has having this classical background which isn’t typically seen in the dancehall industry helped your music?
Jovi Di Pree: “I’m grateful for my experiences. I learned to read and write scores, listening to Beethoven etc. I think I have developed an instinct for music. I would say that 60-70% of producers have the technical ability but can’t say that they have an instinct for music
Most producers wouldn’t know where to start and where to finish if you give them a score sheet.
There are different types of genius, people’s minds work in different ways”
When was your first experience of actually writing a complete piece of music?
Jovi Di Pree: “I was 9 years old when I wrote my first song. I was hearing a beat as well, it came out of nowhere. I could hear a beat and I didn’t really realised what my musical instinct was. I was hearing the entire song in my head”
Coming into music were you looking more towards producing or being an artist?
Jovi Di Pree: “In Jamaica, there are more new artists than composers. There are always more artists because they are more widely accepted. The music isn’t transparent if you look at a hit record, people will know who sang it, not who created the beats and composed the record”
What would you say were some solutions to those issues, how could you see composers, beat makers and writers getting more credit?
Jovi Di Pree: “There are few solutions. What needs to be done, Jamaica is a cultural hub, people need to treat it with respect. We are over flowing with talent and people don’t respect what we have. People need to do things legislatively to make sure that we are respecting the people that create our music”
Looking at your own experiences, what are the issues that you can see in the industry?
Jovi Di Pree: “Music is the cornerstone of our culture and we don’t have a good publishing company in Jamaica. We need to know how much a writer should get, how much a beat maker should get, how much a composer should get.
We are missing the studio etiquette in Jamaica. Part of that has made the magic that is Jamaican music but there isn’t enough knowledge of the music business”
What is particular is wrong with the industry’s outlook on issues like publishing and fair payment to musicians?
Jovi Di Pree: “The importance of composers, producers and beat makers, the people behind the label. We still have the word phonograph in the music laws. These are the things that are holding us back
We are missing legitimacy in Jamaica. We are not capitalising on the music like we are supposed to be”
Going back to your own career, what were some of your first experiences of success in the industry?
Jovi Di Pree: “First big riddim I contributed to was in 2009. In 2011 I worked with Spragga Benz, Sizzla and Junior Reid, it was really great to me to contribute to these artists careers, making the beats, doing the mixing”
Since then what have been some of the most successful singles you have contributed to?
Jovi Di Pree: “Jae Prynse’s ‘Try Harder’, Dexta Dap’s ‘Chinese Jordan’, Mavado’s ‘Progress’, some really great music”
Can you break down how some of these experiences have impacted you?
Jovi Di Pree: “Contributed to the ‘Money Boss’ Riddim which Mavado’s ‘Progress; is featured on, went on to be featured on DJ Khaled’s album.
‘Hypnosis’ Riddim was another big moment, Delly Ranx, Jahmiel, Vershon, Jae Prynse’s ‘Faker To A Friend’ all featuring on the riddim.
On top of your success as a composer, beat maker and producer, you have all recorded as an artist, what have been some of the big moments for you as an artist?
Jovi Di Pree: “‘Blood Friend’ in 2014 was a big moment with Jam Bez Entertainment, people don’t really sing about their friends as people they love. It has gotten a lot of love in dancehall and reggae circles.
I did another song called ‘No Harm’ on the Realest Riddim which was also well received. I have a lot of other songs that are yet to come out that I hope will also get this reception”
So looking forward, what are some of your objectives as an artist?
Jovi Di Pree: “I’ve been working on a few things. The type of support or management, I have formed my own team, my problem has always been content, getting the right push in the right places. Getting a good launch and better understanding of the industry is what I’m looking to achieve”
What are your aims for the rest of 2019?
Jovi Di Pree: “For now I’m focused on my own music, I’m going to multitask and feed my inspiration. My main focus is making sure my voice is heard”