Reggae star Ossie Dellimore has built a varied career in the art form with albums like “Freedom’s Journal,” “Reggae Music” and the recent single “Gone So Far.” The native of St Vincent and the Grenadines’ style is at the cutting edge of reggae music today. Caribbean Journal talked to Dellimore about his musical inspirations, what he sees as the world’s biggest music market, and how the reggae industry can develop.
Who are your inspirations musically?
My first inspirations were my mother and my father. My family inspired me first of all. My oldest sister, who passed away, she used to play the piano in the house, and I remember not being able to see the keys, but just being able to reach them and hit them – I was like three years old. I remember my mother and father singing one Sunday because a friend of theirs had passed away – and I never knew they could sing –and they were singing in harmony – what a ting! But musically speaking, as far as musicians, my inspiration comes from all genres, all musicians throughout the world. My inspiration was not limited to reggae music, even though reggae music had a great, great influence on me from a young age. It was not just reggae music – it was classical – I enjoy all forms of music. So the influence, I would definitely say, came from a wide range of genres.
What are you working on right now?
I’m always working on new music. I feel that the industry has changed greatly over the last 15 years, where the emphasis is less on the album, and more on the single. So therefore, I’m constantly releasing singles, followed by the video, and, once I have enough singles, I put it all together and say it’s an album. To me, an album these days, it’s really if you want to have a hard copy in your hand. If everyone who bought my album were to love every song on the album, I’d say hallelujah. However, as a reggae fan myself, if I buy an album, most of the time, it’s one or two of those tracks that grows on me until I have to keep playing them and put them on my ipod, stock.
How much has the market changed in that respect?
These days, people choose singles, they want the singles. I have much more single downloads than album downloads. The message is clear – it’s a singles market now. If we as reggae artists and the reggae community look at the hip-hop community, as a route to follow, we’ll see it’s a singles market. Also, when you release singles, it keeps you in the hype, it keeps you in the game. It keeps you visible all the time, rather than waiting a whole year or two, hiding your work before you give it to the public. I love to give my work to the public as soon as it is done, because I’m so excited about letting other people share it. It’s not mine, once it’s done.
Is the reggae scene in St Vincent different than in Jamaica?
The reggae scene in St Vincent is pretty much the same as it is everywhere in the Caribbean. People throughout the world love reggae music. I think reggae has the largest market – I keep saying it – it has the largest market worldwide. However, because of the nature of the industry, accessibility to current reggae music, music which is cutting edge, is not as easy as other genres, and that’s because of old taboos that still exist, old habits that are hard to break in the industry. But if they had a good infrastructure in the reggae music industry – let me tell you something. I know so many great artists out there who are not getting exposure they deserve. Some people say, “Yeah, Ossie, you’re included in that bunch.” Now, I don’t really dwell on that. Because I see myself as a success already – I’m already successful doing what I’m doing, producing the music, producing the music videos, getting television airplay. However, the difference between my success, and, let’s say, Movado’s success, is that he’s a lot more popular than me. That’s all – that’s the only difference. And what can change that is developing a strong infrastructure in the reggae industry, whereby this large market – and it is the largest market – if the market could have the infrastructure whereby they could go and purchase good roots, cutting edge music, the market will grow, the money will come in.
Click to hear the song “Time Has Come” from the album “Freedom’s Journal”: 03 Time Has Come
Click here to see Dellimore’s newest music video