Born Alberto D’Ascola, Alborosie rose to fame in the early 1990’s with the Italian reggae group, Reggae National Tickets. In 2001 though, D’Ascola left his group and moved to Jamaica to be closer to the sounds that inspired him. Driven by a passion for music and spirituality, he has steadily released a small string of solo albums over the past decade, all inspired by the power of music to change the way the world turns. Alborosie was kind enough to take a few moments to speak with The Pier regarding his latest album 2 Times Revolution
The Pier: A decade ago you moved to Jamaica to pursue your career in reggae and I’d like to know how you feel you’ve gotten closer to reggae music as a result?
Alborosie: Me and reggae always go together from way back when. When I went to Jamaica it was just the marriage between me and reggae. Reggae so far is treating me good. And I treat reggae good, too.
The Pier: Do you feel you’ve learned anything new about reggae?
Alborosie: Yes, of course. Imagine me now from Europe and I was playing reggae, but it was not the same thing. You come to Jamaica and you learn, more than the music, you learn the vibe. You go with the flow. You deal with the culture and learn something about the culture. Imagine eating Pasta in the States, and then you go to Italy and you eat the real pasta in Italy. It must taste different!
The Pier: Did playing reggae in Italy with the Reggae National Tickets feel different from playing reggae in Jamaica?
Alborosie: The music, it was still reggae but it was like a European sound. Latin and soul….not really straight reggae. We were doing very well, but I guess my mission was a different mission. What is to be must be. I was doing well and whatever, but I still decided to leave Italy and come to Jamaica and try a new experience.
Maybe I was not satisfied with what I was doing. My country is in a way a little bit behind schedule when it comes to music. Italian music is really just for Italy and nowhere else. I said to myself “I just need to expand.” Not because I wanted to be somebody. My plan was not to come to Jamaica and be whatever whatever. It was more like going to study. “I need some knowldege. I need some wisdom.” I was not thinking about my career.
The Pier: What does your album title 2 Times Revolution mean?
Alborosie: 2 Times Revolution because life needs a revolution change things. That is the history, right? History tells us that every time something is not working right, the people need a revolution. That doesn’t mean it has to be a violent revolution. It can be a spiritual revolution. Revolution is an evolution. To reach that evolution maybe you need a revolution.
The Pier: Was this at all inspired by the recent string of revolutions in the Middle East?
Alborosie: Not really like that. I started working on the album like one year ago way before the Middle East situation. I find myself now talking about revolution and revolution is going on! It’s the same as when I wrote “Jesus Is Coming” and everyone started saying “the 21st of May is going to be Judgement Day!” Sometimes you say things and things just happen around you.
The Pier: Interesting the album cover, a picture of you holding a guitar shaped like a machine gun. What’s going on there?
Alborosie: I’m gonna make a revolution with my music. That was the idea, the concept for this album.
I built that guitar. In my free time, my hobby is to build guitars. I wanted to make a Peter Tosh guitar. Because Peter Tosh never really promoted to a next level and the meaning of “I’m gonna kill you with the music” is very, very good for me. 2 Times Revolution and I’m gonna use a machine gun! But it’s not a real machine gun.
The Pier: Can we talk a bit about your love of vintage instruments and gear?
Alborosie: I have a lot of passion for vintage stuff. I start to collect instruments like keyboards, guitars, and bass…everything vintage. And then I start to collect vintage gear like spring reverb, delay, echos… I have a large collection, everything vintage. I start to incorporate this ingredient into my music and that is my sound, the shengen sound. A bit of new school with the old-school combined together. The recipe is very good. I love it
The Pier: In the press release, I read that you refer to your music as ‘Jahspel’ music. Could elaborate on what that means?
Alborosie: After nineteen years now in the music industry, first in Italy, now in Jamaica, I found myself thinking about reggae and spirituality. I’m not a gospel act, but I’m a ‘Jahspel’ act. This is my own version of gospel. I spend my whole life doing that, and I named my sound. When I’m onstage I feel like I’m at church. But I’m not a normal christian. I gave myself a denomination. My music is “Jah.”