FAC Focus: We sat down with JyellowL one on one to discuss his musical journey so far, his opinions on the Dublin hip-hop scene, ahd his ambitions for the future.
Do you want to start by introducing yourself?
'I’m JyellowL, Irish based artist, originally Nigerian/Jamaican. I’ve been doing music off-record for 12 years now, but professionally, for about two years. I guess I’d describe my music as predominantly hip-hop, but also soul and RnB.'
Would you say that they’re your musical influences?
'When it comes to my influences, as a whole in music, it has to be Fela Kuti.
He’s Nigerian, the creator of afro-beats. His music was revolutionary. He was speaking about problems in Nigeria, the corruption and the government. He was always in trouble, getting arrested and persecuted. I think that’s what influenced me to make music about things that matter. To be conscious, more socially aware. He also had great instrumentals, and I picked up on the afro-beat sounds and the soul.'
So you say you want to make music that’s socially conscious? What do you think of Dublin at the moment? Is it progressing in your opinion?
'That’s the thing, there are so many things to be aware of. I’m hyper-aware of things that go on around me, whether it be injustices or oppression, I see it all the time. It’s a blessing and a curse. Dublin is becoming more and more diverse, and with that comes a conflict of interest, between immigrants coming in and the indigenous people here. Everyone has to get used to a new way of living side by side, of coexisting. That’s something to be conscious about.
Would you say you still feel some discrimination in Dublin?
'I really hate saying racism, but there is still a lot of racism around. Not so much anymore because people are becoming more politically correct and aware of offending others, but it is still there. All these themes and more come across in my music.'
If racism is still prominent in the city but slowly declining, what is it like being part of a Hip-Hop culture that is small at its core? Do you see this scene ever growing?
'I’d like to see it grow, and I think that’s what’s happening. If you went to a gig 8 months ago, the turnout would be completely different to a gig tomorrow. There would be a lot more people because the word has spread.It’s also to do with the quality of music coming out now. Around 5 years ago, the acts weren’t as good, but today, they could compete on an international stage. Thing is, it needs to start somewhere. Shout out to Haresquead because they’ve been doing their thing for a long time. It didn’t happen overnight, they put in the work. They live it every day, they’re always about their music, and that’s something I respect.'
We have big respect for Haresquead, they put in serious work; gigging, recording and in return they got signed to Columbia Records in the UK and are now featured alongside artists such as A$AP ROCKY, Calvin Harris and even Daft Punk. Can that be daunting for you to follow though? Or is something that shows you it can be done?
'I think everyone should run their own race. A lot of people follow a set template for how you should pursue a music career in Ireland, but if everyone goes one way, only a few people will make it. If you forge your own path, whether it succeeds or it doesn’t, that path is yours.'
We agree with you 100% on that man, the road less travelled is always the better in the long run. Yet looking at Haresquead moving to London to try make it on a bigger scene does that inspire you or do you see it as talent leaving a fledging hip hop scene here?
'I don’t blame them, it’s the people who have the power to create the industry, and they think there’s nothing here, when they could be using that power to shed light on the upcoming artists. Instead we have to do it ourselves, to make them pay attention. What we need is for people to stop outsourcing music and start looking inwards. It’s sad that in the past, talented artists have moved abroad, but my philosophy is: ‘If you make enough noise in Ireland, people will start listening.’
With Hip-Hop growing by the day (Genius recently reported it was the most consumed music genre today) how do you see the Irish scene growing?
'You have to make it into a movement, and collaboration is key. For instance, I regularly collaborate with Chris Kabs. He’s not purely a hip hop artist, he’s RnB, Afro-beat. he does a lot of things. We make music and perform together. To fund it, he produces people. People pay the money because the quality is there. He deserves it, the work he puts in is something to applaud. He’s investing it all back into himself and expanding his business.'
It’s a rare and beautiful thing to find young creatives in Dublin who have found the freedom and space to turn their ideas into a reality. What’s next for JyellowL?
'I performed at Electric Picnic this September and I’m dropping my first EP, titled ‘Bulletproof’, on the 27th of October. I’m working toward the album now, which should be released by February. Chris and I have something in the works too, a kind of classical sound, and that’s also something exciting. We’re doing it ourselves, we want to lead by example. We want to show people you don’t have to wait for someone to hand you the opportunity, ‘you go and take it!’ JyellowL is launching his EP 'Bulletproof' this Friday, the 27th of October, in The Workman's Club. Get your tickets here.
28th August 2017