Currently in New York for philanthropic work with The Kulture Movement on the #NoDisrespect Campaign, and the American Foundation For The University of the West Indies (AFUWI) Gala, reggae artist Chris Martin is certainly making a name for himself as a humble, down-to-earth, and overall cool man of music. Preceding his second studio album “And Then” which is slated for release on May 3rd (mark your calendars!), Chris Martin will be promoting positive messages of hope and respect without resorting to violence with the #NoDisrespect Campaign. He attended, and performed at the AFUWI Gala to help raise funds for the University of West Indies Scholarship Fund. Even with the release of his new album on VP Records in a few months, and with this determination to give back, Chris Martin sat down with us to talk about “And Then” and when he came to be known as “The Reggae Chris Brown.”
Growing up, who were the people that inspired your music?
The people who inspired my music are Stevie Wonder, Sam Cook, Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Kenny Rogers. I like the older stuff. Oldies, but goodies. My dad used to play all those records.
Tell us about the creative process when creating music.
I would say there are two different kinds for me. The kind where I have an entire idea and melody scheme in my head before I actually get an instrumental, and then there are other times when I get an instrumental, and then I write to the instrumental. I try to fit the melodies, and the lines to the beat. Those are the two ways I go about doing it. For me, I need to be in a space where I’m comfortable. Either I’m home, or I’m actually in the studio, or I have a lot of downtime on a long flight. As long as I’m comfortable, and I’m chilling, the creative process is relatively easy.
How has traveling impacted your music?
Exposure is always a plus, you know? Everywhere is different. You have crowds that perform when you’re performing. They react differently. For a time you have to grow to understand that. Like in Scandinavia, they’re crazy, man. When they hear reggae music, they love it. They’re very interactive, they’re with you. And then there are other places where they’re more of a listening crowd. It doesn’t mean that you’re not doing well, it’s just different people. People react differently. It all boils down to exposure, and that’s how I treat my writing. I cater to everybody. I try to be as broad, and as vague with my music as possible. There can be no box, there can be no cage. It has no boundaries, it has no borders for me. There is no limit.
When did you first start to realize that you could make a living from your music?
17. I always knew I could sing, but I played football, or soccer for you guys. I used to play soccer in high school, so I always thought I’d probably be a soccer player, but I could always sing. And I always knew that, but I never saw myself making a living out of music, until 2005 when I entered a competition in Jamaica called Rising Stars [Digicel Rising Stars is Jamaica’s top televised talent show] comparable to American Idol here. After I was in that competition for a brief spell, may 2 or 3 weeks, I realized…’oh! people are drawn to me.’ They loved my voice, how I looked, my movements. It was just eye opening to me. That’s when I was like…I could try this.
Is that when they started calling you “The Reggae Chris Brown”?
No, that was after. [laughs] When I won the competition.
Can you tell us about the new album?
The new album is called “And Then” because at the point and time that I was putting the song together, I was expecting my son, so my manager thought his name was going to be close to “And Then” but it’s actually “Aiden.” So they wanted to use the album to celebrate the name of my son. That was like a year ago. He’ll be 1 on Friday. So that’s initially how the name came about. After that, it had so many meanings that in the end it worked out. First there was “Big Deal” [Martin’s debut full-length album which reached the top 5 on the Reggae Billboard Charts in 2017] and then there’s “And Then” and the story continues. The sky is not the limit, there’s so much more to achieve. So we kept the name, and it has 15 tracks. No features. That was not deliberate, actually. It was complete, and I didn’t feel like it was lacking anything, so we kept it.
There are songs on there that will hit home with anybody, with the masses on a whole. There are love songs on it, feel good songs.
What’s your favorite song on it?
All 15. [laughs]
Every one of the songs, they mean something. I’m split into 15 parts, and each part has their favorite. It’s nice. I look forward to your feedback.
Was there any song on it that illicited any really really strong emotions in the process of creating it?
Yeah, “Life” is one of those songs. It’s up-tempo but it hits home. I speak of myself, actually. How I was raised, my background, and where I’m coming from. Now that I’m in a position where I can know better, and be better, I’m thankful. Life is the most expensive thing. It should be cherished, and it should be valued as such. That was one song that when I recorded, I was really proud of it, because it put me in a time of like Maxi Priest, those guys, back when music was just feel good. Reggae music pouring out of your soul, it gives me that vibe. If I keep talking, I can talk about all 15 of them.
What’s the overall message that you want to bring out with this album?
Good vibes, you know? This album shows that there are no limits. You can do it yourself. Good vibes. It doesn’t matter where you are, what you’re doing, what you plan on doing…you can incorporate this in your day, you will have awesome energy.
Stay tuned for “And Then” coming our May 3rd, and his focus track “Life” to be released on March 15th.