Sting and Shaggy Discuss Their Love Affair with Work, Sharing the Load and Taking it Slow
STING: “You know, for both of us, the nothing at all option is never on the table. We’re both of us addicted to our work. We both love working. We love it, and we’d never ever consider doing nothing, but to actually share the load, together with a peer of Shaggy’s stature, for me is wonderful. You know, because making a record on your own, you have the concept, you have to produce it. You’re responsible for a lot of stuff and frankly, sharing it 50% with somebody like Shaggy is a great pleasure and it’s a great deal of weight lifted off my shoulders, so thank you.”
STING: “It’s a two-way street, you know? I’ve learned a lot from Shaggy. His spontaneity. For me, the creative process is largely private. I like to work on things and I’m not willing to share it with a third party until I’m absolutely sure of it’s structure and how coherent it is. This one just goes in and just starts, and he says, “Sting! Come and join me!” I said, “I don’t do that.”
I thought, you know what? I should. I might learn something, and of course I did. It’s a very genial, competitive spirit we’ve got going. Shaggy will sing something and then I have to up my game to match his energy and match his output. So, I’m learning that spontaneity.”
SHAGGY: “Yeah, you know, you meet a girl you just want to get in, but how about just savoring that moment and taking your time and follow her lead. If she says, “Hey, I want to be a little bit more serious about this.” You know what I mean? This is gonna take some time to get to know each other and get into the whole situation. That’s what the record is really about. You’re saying to yourself, “Don’t make me wait. Don’t make me wait to love you.” But she’s saying, “I’m worth the wait.” You see that?”
Sting: Grammys & record sales have nothing to do with success
STING: “Here’s the truth. We are both students. We are both here to learn and we learn from each other. No matter how many Grammys you’ve got or how many records you’ve sold, if you are in service to music, that’s what you’re here for. Regardless of your success. I’d still be doing the same thing if I hadn’t been successful. I’d be making music, so here we’re given the grace and the opportunity to do what we love, because we work hard. It’s as simple as that.”
Sting and Shaggy discuss the reggae’s influence on rock and roll
STING: “You know, it’s very difficult to be revolutionary within the context of rock n’ roll. It’s a very conservative art form. It’s a very reactionary art form. Reggae turned it on its head. It was truly revolutionary, and the predominance of the bass, as a bass player, that was like sunshine to me. The way the drums were played. Stuart Copeland and I would experiment with that, and then we would develop a style where it would juxtapose a reggae style with a straight rock and roll style, going from one to the other. That became a signature and a very effective signature.”
STING: “You know, music is a common language that we share among cultures, so I’ve never been really interested in fitting into a genre or being limited by genre. I like when sparks fly if you add two things together that shouldn’t be put together. Maybe nine times out of ten you’ll fail, but sometimes you’ll put something in the soup that makes it fizz and that’s what we’re looking for the whole time, you know? Some spice.”
SHAGGY: “Well, for us doing it, it’s like he always says. It’s giving back to the culture within itself, but making the music together. Whatever energy that we have, you feel it on the recording. I mean, you’ve heard a couple of tracks. You know what I mean? It’s paying homage to the authenticity of the music and the culture within itself, but at the same time, putting our twist to it. You know me, from day one that when I was making records, I was the guy that always did these hybrid records. We did those for a reason, because that’s the way for us to go to get on radio. You know what I mean? Much like when Chris Blackwell had Bob Marley’s music and put overdubs.”
Unseeming similarities between Sting and Shaggy
SHAGGY: “But in doing it, imagine how nerve wracking it is. He’s like, show me what to do. Produce me. Tell me what it is. But it’s humility for such a massive rockstar, a guy that’s sold over a hundred million records and to look at me and be like, yo, yeah, tell me how we do it. It did wonders for my self-esteem as an artist.”
SHAGGY: “We both say, “Yes ma’am.” We have a lot of common. We like a lot of the same things. We’re both humanitarians. We both love nature. We both love people. We love the art of music and what we’ve been doing on this is really kind of learning from each other’s creative skills. Process, so to speak and it has been an amazing ride. I mean, what else was I gonna do at this point?”
This interview was done on Red Bull Radio’s Federation Sound
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Co-founder of esteemed production team the Federation Sound, Max Glazer has been spreading awareness of soundsystem culture ever since he discovered bashment sounds as a hip-hop journalist and DJ. His extensive experience on the decks, behind the boards and in the radio studio working with many of the biggest names in reggae and dancehall have made him a global authority on Caribbean music, from foundational riddims to crossover smash hits. Every week, the live radio veteran guides listeners through music of the Jamaican diaspora via his arsenal of dubplate specials, fiyah remixes and exclusive premieres. In addition, our host invites both new friends and old family onto the airwaves for in-depth conversations with never-before-heard insights into their career and craft. Wheel up!
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