Children of Augustus Pablo: Isis Swaby & Addis Pablo by Anicée Gaddis
Interview Previously featured on Marley Natural Blog by Anicée Gaddis
Gaddis: Your father, Augustus Pablo, is one of dub’s founding members. How do you help keep that important legacy alive?
Isis: My father as a Augustus Pablo is enough to help me, keep pushing for my artistic, musical and entrepreneurial goals. So, it isn’t a struggle to keep his legacy alive because his legacy is amongst us in conversations, his message and music dictates his longevity. I manage his Facebook account with Addis and recently launched www.rockersinternational.com. Rockers International is my father famed label and records shop based out of Kingston, Jamaica, therefore, his legacy lives on in Jamaica and throughout the world. In addition, I am a DJ and producer, so that's another outlet for me to push my father’s legacy and learn more about what I want to create as a producer and performer. Honestly, I feel like he travels with me everywhere I go, meaning his spirit. In 2014, I toured in Japan on behalf of his Rockers International productions and it lead the way of my monthly Japan tour and I felt his influence and love strongly during that time in my life.
Addis: I have been doing music for at least ten years Zwingli learning and researching the music my dad created called rockers which created the foundation for dub because of the Musicianship which he and the fellow musicians and engineers like King Tubbys Jammys etc so learning all of this in all of my efforts. I try to make the same effort in creativity and livity which can be nostalgic for myself and for others so my main way is by being alive to represent my father and his legacy in this modern time.
Gaddis: What are the plans for his 62nd birthday tribute in Kingston this June?
Addis: We have a three day weekend planned starting from the 16th of June at EDB vinyl Thursday’s following with a Record Shop Pre opening at our Rockers int Record shop on Orange Street the Mecca of record shops in the founding years of Ska Rocksteady Rockers. Finally, we will host a live stage show with performances by Original Rockers Int singers likeSpliffy Dan and White Mice and new generation Rockers artist Kelissa, Isis, myself, Keida, Exile Di Brave as well as myself alongside the Inna Di yard Band and more guests
Gaddis: What are some of your best childhood memories of seeing your father play live, either at home or at a show?
Addis: I saw my dad perform many times some of the moments, On long journeys to places like St Thomas in Jamaica by the bath fountain having good food from the community of course seeing my dad mash up the show but honestly it’s blurry to the amount of events and shows he did I did always want to go on tour with him but never got to do that and over all every moment we shared as a family was a blessing more so the ones as a family and moments at home or at the beach in Hellshire
Isis: Since, I lived in the US with my mother, I would only visit my father on holidays and some summers. One time when I visited my father in Jamaica, it was around my birthday or just after my birthday; he wanted to throw a party for me and my brother, I didn’t have many friends in jamaica at the time, I was only a child, so the party end up being for the adults with live music, ital food and his friends and I had to go to sleep at 9 p.m. But I remember, seeing my father commit himself fully to music and bringing joy to me and his friends. My father was a very kind and giving person and I always remember him sending me gifts from his travels and being thoughtful by writing me letters and cards.
Gaddis: He played a rare and unique instrument, the melodica, and you chose to play the same Addis.
Gaddis: Tell me about that decision.
Addis: This decision for me was very organic in that a didn’t plan on playing I always loved the sound because it’s my father's sound that I knew before I was even born it’s like the soundtrack to my life so at the age of 15 a started to play with the encouragement of my dads close friends like Binghi Kojo for me it’s a form of healing and meditating as well to express a message.
Gaddis: It’s been said that as a performer Augustus was sometimes shy in the studio, but that he would come alive on stage.
Addis: I could say my dad was quiet to himself but he could be loud and excessive vocally as well having a good sense of humour when he was with his bredrens.
Isis: I think my father and I are similar maybe we are both shy in moments but have our bold moments when we perform. I would say on stage for him, he would be focused and come to life even more because he was serious about his music.
Gaddis: Can you talk about your father’s commitment to the Rasta faith and how that impacted his lifestyle and music?
Addis: My dads levity was totally Rastafari his music his sound his life was all based all around the movements of Rastafari he was devoted to his livity totally he would he always give all credit and praise to the Most High HIM crediting .HIM as the producer and composer Of all his Albums and works. He was a kind hearted person hard working and strong willed all of which was part of his character and livity as a Rastafarian. He was there, right in the mix, during the rise of Rasta culture, and then when Jamaica became independent in 1962.
Isis: My father lived fully in Rastafari and deep in his music. It was his embodiment and his way. He knew this was his mission for his life. I would see him work on his music and smoke herb daily and spent time in meditation.
Gaddis: He was there, right in the mix, during the rise of Rasta culture, and then when Jamaica became independent in 1962. Did he ever talk about those early days?
Addis: He may have spoken about it during reasoning with bredrens however as I said my dad was quiet in terms of talking about things he may have witnessed or done he was more meditative or having reasoning on current issues and even possible future events
Gaddis: Tell me about the continuation of the reggae movement that was birthed in the 1960s and how it has evolved through to contemporary times.
Addis: The continuation of the reggae movements is in harmony with the movement of Rastafari which both Can be seen throughout the world with the emergence of many reggae artist groups and Rastafarians who have been influenced by the works birthed in the 1960’s in some way or another the Eco friendly organic food and medical marijuana movements which are growing across the world are a reflection of the evolution of the works of Rastafari and its musical message in the form of reggae through the people which have been influenced by these works
Isis: I grew up with my mother and father as Rastas, I feel like current day in the 90’s was very community based in DC and Baltimore, it was a memorable time in my life being around my god mothers and fathers and that community of like minded, strong minded and spiritual individuals; where they had a sense of community and values together to build eachother up through supporting each other with raising kids to helping with daily activities. Modern day 2000’s, it's kindve trendy for some to join Rastafarian culture but if it connects to their soul and it's genuine, that's a beautiful thing. I grew up Ethiopian Orthodox and spent a lot of time following that path as a child under my mother supervision and I relished in the spiritual values which is what Rastas are apart of as well.
How do you, as young creatives, borrow from and evolve the learnings and ethos of your father?
Addis: I am greatly influenced totally by my father’s works and the works from his time in the approach they took to creating and composing sharing their message and sounds inspired by the MOST HIGH so what I barrow is the organic selfless approach to playing my father’s music and creating my own.
Isis: I honestly, used his motivation, spiritually and determination to keep doing my music. When I was attending Dubspot, a private music school for the first time ever getting hands on experience with music production, I felt discouraged. But I thought of my father and his work ethic and love for what he did and created that pushed me to follow through on my Musical commitments.
As well, I had some gigs, it was very trying times where I felt like giving up but the spirit from my mother and father really empowered me to stick to this path of creation and believing in the beauty of it even in the most trying times.
Gaddis: Isis, you mentioned that you are currently working on a film related project. What is the subject and when can we expect to see it?
Currently, I'm planning on developing a documentary on my father's life but more from fans perspective and the core of the love is from Europe, South America, Africa and Asia so it would be interesting to document his influence throughout the world. This man and our father called Augustus Pablo who was able to add so much joy and peace to others lives whom he has never met. I have met some of his fans and they cried telling me stories and his meaning to their life. And there's great value in that story and I want to go further to do more in namesake of my father's legacy. But I want to do it the right way, with appropriate backing and planning because it's his legacy that will live on through conversation and sound.
Gaddis: Isis and Addis, what is the latest music you are working on and are there upcoming tour plans?
Addis: I am currently working on my sophomore LP Creation Sounds which is set to be released on VP/Greensleeves Records featuring original music as well as Covers of some of my favorite compositions from my dad like Java, East of the River Nile and the Day Before the Riot
Isis: I'm doing a mini tour in August 2016 to promote my ep, Naked Lunch and doing selective DJ sets along the East Coast will be managed by my label / agency, Someguysenterprise. Naked Lunch experimental/trip hop influence and named after William Burroughs’ novel. I'm working on new music with other artists in reggae and alternative/experimental and re-releasing Naked Lunch with a few new songs on Vinyl limited run.
Gaddis: How do you both feel about the increasing international embrace of reggae and the culture surrounding it?
Addis: It’s very good to know That the works of Rastafari can be seen and felt throughout the world and its growth can only make a positive effect on the minds and lives of the people who listen as it has been doing since its early development.
Gaddis: What do you think is the most important thing your father contributed to Jamaican culture?
Addis: I think my Dad’s use of such a unique instrument and sound contributed and diff way of approaching music and life to take something people might have never considered as a serious musical instrument to have created some of the most serious instrumental Music to ever be created mystical sound he helped to expose a style of music which would go on to influence hip hop drum and bass as well EDM music as well fe artiste he worked with like Jacob Miller Hugh Mundell and Yami bolo would also be a part of his contribution as he was one the first if not first producer of these and many more artists engineers and musicians.
Isis: Most important thing my father contributed has been a work ethic that truly lead the way for other artists to use as a model and his vision was clear which is needed as an artist. He was a visionary and like most visionary they are misunderstood and under looked sometimes I know he felt he didn't get his rightful credit or monetary but his work is priceless to the world. As for Jamaica, it was his home, it shaped my father but the beauty of my father he wasn't limited by an island but had a big vision to travel and see more and expand his experiences and his mind, that's the contribution right there to inspire others to do more. If it's to learn an instrument such as the melodica or to learn how to sing. My father encouraged a lot of new artists to do their craft, some whom didn't always know they had the ability, but he believed in their abilities.