Though JonQuan is relatively new to the reggae scene, you’d never know it by listening to the music on the upcoming EASY STAR PRESENTS: JONQUAN & ASSOCIATES. Working closely with two-time GRAMMY winner Victor Rice (Easy Star All-Stars, Bixiga 70, Ticklah), JonQuan has fashioned an album’s worth of brand-new tunes that evoke the power and soul of the golden age of reggae. These tracks are being released as singles (with dub versions mixed by Rice) over the course of the next few months, culminating in an album release in April 2022.
When it came to putting the album together, JonQuan says he “…was inspired over the pandemic to create my own original riddims to cure the boredom and woes of being off stage and locked down.” JonQuan has been the frontman, songwriter, and keyboard player for Buddha Council, based out of Virginia Beach, for the past few years, along with touring with a number of bands, including the Pietasters. “This is my first project where I produced the riddims myself. I wanted to leave the door open for the players of all other instruments for maximum creative input, but within certain parameters. I personally chose who I wanted to play what instrument on what song. I’m most accustomed to live writing with a band while feeling for a groove.” Once he had an album’s worth of riddims, he set about finding great vocalists to collaborate with, which ended up also including Sammy Dread, Vernon Maytone, JonnyGo Figure, Kelly Di Filipo (of The Loving Paupers), among others.
Once JonQuan had the record finished, Victor Rice made the connection to Easy Star Records, his label for the past few years. For the team at Easy Star, they felt like they were reconnecting with their own origins as a label, as their very first release was a similar project, EASY STAR VOL. ONE, which paired their own foundation-inspired original riddims with vocals from both Jamaican veterans and New York City-based newcomers. A generation has passed since that project, with the label since becoming a major player in the genre, and an entire U.S. reggae scene evolving into a major force, so getting involved with this scrappy upstart project that had so much energy and creativity was a joy for the label.
“In a true dancehall fashion, JonnyGo Figure was my first choice for this tune. I’ve known Jonny for a while from my hangs with the NYC reggae family. From spinning records and toasting for Deadly Dragon Sound, to LES dj nights, singing with the Frightnrs, or controlling the mic at basement bashments in Flatbush, Jonny’s iconic style shines bright, echoing the greats.” — JonQuan