Reggae | Jordan T.

Irie Magazine | Reggae | Jordan T.

Jordan T.

Bridges with the Vibes

With growing audience of over 40,000 monthly listeners on Spotify alone and no stranger to the global reggae touring circuit, his touring career has taken him to International Music Festivals such as Rototom Sunsplash (Spain), Riddu Riddu Festival (Norway), Chiemsee Summer (Germany), SummerJam (Cologne, Germany), Reggae Sun Ska Fest (France) and American Reggae festivals like California Roots Festival, Reggae on the River, Reggae on the Mountain, Island Vibes Fest, Island Reggae Festival, Trenchfest (Guam), Reggae on the Block (Orlando), and many more across the globe.

To fund the production of his independent debut ‘Bridges with the Vibes’ (2017) album and future tours, he and his fanbase raised $30,000 after exceeding their initial goal of $23,000. Following the successful campaign, Jordan T linked up with Habitat for Humanity in Nicaragua (2017) to give back, building housing for those in need.

Jordan T has shared stages/festivals with artists such as Fiji, Katchafire, Jimmy Cliff, Major Lazor, Third World, Tarrus Riley, Jemere Morgan, Steel Pulse, Iration, Anuhea, Maoli, Soja, Mike Love, Damien Marley, Alex Marley, Sammy J, Common Kings, Collie Buddz, Irie Love, Ali Cambell (UB40), Kimie, Ekolu, Rebel Souljahz, The Green, J Boog, Bobby McFerrin, Mick Fleetwood, Michael Shrieve, and many more.

Former lead guitarist/vocalist of the Maui band Maoli (HI) relentlessly pursued his dreams which led him to play as lead guitarist/ vocalist touring the globe with the legendary international reggae band, Katchafire (NZ). His music is a mainstay on Hawaiian and international reggae radio stations in O’ahu, Maui, Big Island of Hawai’i, Guam, Tahiti, Cali, Japan, and various European stations. His most renowned singles include his #1 hawaiian hit, ‘Sunset Tonight’ (2013), ‘Closer To You’ (2015), and the most recent release off of his Debut Album (Bridges with the Vibes) ‘Find Ya Riddim’ (2017), which features Jemere Morgan, son of Gramps Morgan of Morgan Heritage.

“Maui Reggae star JORDAN T. is taking Bob Marley along with his unique dash of sun splash hip hop to anada “POSITIVE VIBRATION” level. A breath of fresh air and if his sold out concerts and high energy performances of Artistic Integrity like his fellow Hawaiian star IZ is a indication of a class act, then he is certainly destined to be the next reggae SUPER STAR IMO.” – PHIL CHEN – (Bassist for: Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Ernest Ranglin , Skatalites, Jerry Lee Lewis, BB King, Ray Charles, Roy Orbison, the Doors, Sir Rod Stewart, Jeff Beck, Bee Gees, Brian May Queen, Eddie Van Halen, and more…)

Official Website: JordanTMusic.com

The Interview

IRIE. Take us back to your childhood. You are originally from Maui, Hawai’i! How were you introduced to reggae music?

Jordan T. I’m a mixed breed, Hapa Ilokano and Dutch. I have 2 brothers and a little sis! My Dutch mom’s side is from the Cascade mountains in Wenatchee, WA and my dad’s side fam is from Paia, the Northshore of Maui. “Ama”, my great-grandfather and other relatives worked the Sugar Cane fields back in the day. After my older brother was born in Maui, my family moved to Washington State where they had me. Spent my summers in Maui growing up to stay connected to both my island and mainland family roots, but always felt the Islands in my blood. Travelled a lot as a kid and after experiencing the mainland, I moved back to Maui to trace and reconnect with my dad’s family island roots.

My introduction to reggae started when I was kid with Jawaiian, Ekolu, Katchafire, Gregory Isaacs,  and of course Bob Marley. Fun fact- when my dad was in high school, he jammed guitar on island in a band with the original drummer of Natural Vibrations, Stacy Medeiros. So obviously I grew up listening to them and also FIJI. “Uncle” Fiji is one of my biggest inspirations as he is (in my opinion) the GodFather for island reggae music. Because of the path he paved, I and many other emerging island reggae artists are able travel and do what we do today. =)

IRIE. You picked the guitar as your choice of instrument. Why the guitar? Do you still have or remember your first guitar?

Jordan T. I started playing guitar when I was 11, taking lessons from Flamenco guitar master, Enrique Hanao. Yeah, I’ll never forget that acoustic, nylon string guitar! I haven’t touched that guitar in years – still safe in its case though!  I spent more time with it than my friends haha. =)  I definitely felt a bit of a calling to the guitar because I used to watch my dad play when I was a kid so I’ve wanted to keep that family tradition going I guess.

IRIE. As you pursued your dreams as a musician, who were some of your musical influences?

Jordan T. Growing up I listened to a pretty eclectic mixture of styles from reggae to classical, to hip hop, to Motown, to heavy metal and everything in between.  Ones that influenced me the most were Kalapana, Cecilo and Kapono, Kapena, Hapa, Katchafire, Damian Marley, Earth Wind and Fire, Marvine Gaye, Al Green, Brandon Boyde (Incubus), Fiji, Gregory Issacs, Steel Pulse, Third World, UB40, the other Marleys..etc. too many to name. =)

IRIE. Your first band as a musician was the Maui band, Maoli. How did this opportunity come about?

Jordan T. ACTUALLY, the first band I played shows with on Maui was a band called, Cane Fire. We played locally around Maui. After that I was blessed with the call asking to audition for Maoli as lead guitarist/vocalist in 2012. I still remember getting the call from my braddah Chris Mahon, introducing me to Josh Cravalho, asking if I could tour the United States with Maoli – I was already a fan of Maoli so that was an obvious yes!

At the time, I was working full time as a 1st mate (sailor) for this catamaran company called Trilogy. They were awesome enough to allow me to leave the island to tour and still have the job when I came back, so big up Trilogy! After our first tour together, endless laughs, and great music making, I knew these guys would become music ohana no matter where we all ended up in lives and our careers.

IRIE. After 3 years with the band, Maoli, you got the opportunity to perform as lead guitarist/vocalist for the legendary reggae band Katchafire. What was the feeling for you to be able to perform with a globally recognized reggae band? Did you feel that you were on your way?

Jordan T. To be honest, I grew up listening to Katchafire. I’ve been covering their music for awhile so to have the opportunity to open up for, and then later play lead guitars/backup vox IN the band was a dream come true for me.

I learned so much wisdom from da Maori Whanau and had some of the best times of my career touring the world with them. They are one the hardest working reggae bands out there and are insanely talented – I’ve seen it with my own eyes! They’re a HUGE inspiration to me and I feel very honored and blessed for the experiences.  Always good vibes! Big up Katchafire ohana!

IRIE. In 2013, you scored your first number one Hawaiian hit with Sunset Tonight. Tell us about the song.

Jordan T. So I recorded that song in Oahu at Buprint Studios (Kapena) with some hammah Hawaiian artists: Pena Bu engineering + Mixing, Ruff Mastering, Revelation Kalauli on drums, Jay Keyz on Keyboards, Puunui Wong on bass, and Glenn Awong of Maoli. I came in with my preproduction and then we started laying down drums, guitar, bass, keys, vocals, track after track. The whole song took us no more than 4 hours to finish. I remember after the all nighter, we looked at each other laughing, “yup das a wrap boys!”. I wrote this song in Maui a while back for this island girl I was crushing on at the time. I wanted the vibe to reflect the vibe of Maui. I feel blessed that people ended up liking it ya know? You never know how your creations will be received until you take the chance I guess. We did a music video for that song on Oahu thanks to the kanaka from Moloka’i, Paulele from Hawaii’s Finest and his crew!

IRIE. You’ve had the opportunity to tour around the world, performing at some of the biggest international music festivals, including Rototom Sunsplash (Spain), SummerJam (German) and Reggae Sun Ska (France). Is there a memorable moment that stays with you?

Jordan T. I feel very grateful. Playin at Rototom in Spain was definitely a highlight. It was a sea of people and we got to play on the main stage right before Major Lazer and Bunny Wailer the legend! I watched Bunny Wailer from back stage smash his set, but he felt sick in the middle of it. I watched him walk off stage, clean his stomach out, and walked right back on stage to finish his set. It was one of the dopest moments I’ve experienced in person. He’s an absolute Champion! Later we got to cruz with him and he said he ate something funny earlier. He went on to destroy the stage like nothing happened. Inspiring.

IRIE. Let’s talk about your latest debut album, Bridges with the Vibes, which was crowdfunded by your fanbase. What was the feeling like to be able to have the support of your fans to produce this EP?

Jordan T. Humbling. From someone who cleaned church toilets for money at one point, I feel eternally grateful that there was enough people out there that believed in our vision/mission enough to contribute. I couldn’t have made the album without them.  I’ve learned so much and I loved getting to connect directly to the people who were previously fans, but now are family. As an independent artist, it’s a great platform to fund larger projects and to be able to afford the musicians/studios/engineers you want to hire, to get the quality sounds you want. I’m still kind of in shock that it was successful! =) Give thanks to the most high! Go check it out on itunes, googleplay, amazon, spotify, etc…

IRIE. On your album, ‘Bridges with the Vibes’, you feature an eclectic group of musicians including Jemere Morgan, Leylani, Unga Barunga, Mr. Kapu, to name a few. How did these collaborations come about?

Jordan T. Yes – I wanted to show how music can bring people from all over the world together, but also to showcase the local Hawaiian talent. I wanted to fuse roots with different genre feels.  =) I honestly have been a fan of all these artists before I even worked with them. I say that this project was shaped by the King of Kings because somethings you just can’t plan out. I randomly got in contact with good braddah Jemere Morgan a couple years ago and we worked on an unreleased project via instagram/skype! It’s kind of funny because we never met in person till after we released “Find Ya Riddum”. Big up his fams on the Grammys!  I met Unga Barunga while on tour with Katchafire and Nattali Rize. He was backing up the sis and we got to know each other! They some good braddahs! Years after he emailed me from Jamaica saying he remixed sunset tonight and wrote a verse – once I listened to it I knew I had to put it on the album! Big up Unga and Notis! Leylani is one talented sis from Maui and was blessed to work with her! Mr Kapu and I go way back to playing local shows in Maui called “The Medicine Men”. We were bringing all kine locals acts together under one roof for a kanikapila (Jam sesh). I got busy with Maoli and Katchafire so it took awhile to finally get this song with his poetic fire. More music is cooking as we speak… =)

IRIE. Can you share with us the meaning behind the title, Bridges with the Vibes?

Jordan T. The mission of this album/my career is to use music to uplift, unite, and promote love to ALL people of ALL cultures on a global platform. I wanted to represent my journey, my roots, and my family through this album. Like my ancestors before, we build bridges and we travel. Music is my outrigger to carry this message! There’s a lot of crazy things in this industry and in this world. I believe music is the perfect vehicle to get messages across – to bring healing to the brokenness out there. Bob Marley showed us how through everything he did and was to this world. Bridges with the Vibes is about setting that tone. At my shows I like to tell the people… I don’t care who you are, who your father or mother was, where you come from, what color your skin is, tonight in this house, we’re all family. We are Ohana. We gotta be the ones to stand up for whats right, what’s pono. 

IRIE. You are a humanitarian as well. In 2017, you linked up with Habitat for Humanity in Nicaragua to build houses for those in need. What was the experience like for you?

Jordan T. It was an amazing eye opening and perspective changing experience.  Went out with a group of 13 to one of the poorest places in the world called Estelí, Nicaragua. A percentage of people are basically living with mud floors, latrines for bathroom and shacks made from scrap wood and metal. Our mission was to build from bottom up a “seed home”. It’s a basic concrete structure that they can live in and build onto later after we leave. Hard work mixing concrete by hand for about 7 days straight. Worth every second of it to see the face of the Julia when she walked into her new home and out of the mud. They have a new future now. This is only ONE of many people in the world that are below poverty levels and we must raise that awareness. For us that can give, let’s give. Building bridges with the Vibes.

IRIE. Is there anything you would like to say or share with the Irie Magazine audience?

Jordan T. We’ve got a brand new EP in the works right now – no release date yet, but blessed to have 2 songs recorded with my bay area fam, CRSB. Also grateful to be combining forces with the one and only and legendary reggae roots band, Third World for a project! Give thanks!  We also have collaborated with the Tahitian/Polynesian fam, Hinano. We’ve got a brand new merch line that can be found at www.jordantmusic.com. More tours in the works for the future and all that info and more music releases can be found on social media: facebook, instagram, twitter –  @jordantmusic. Big up IRIE MAGAZINE for the opportunity!! Strictly love and good vibes! Bless UP!

IRIE. Much Love & Respect, Jordan T! Mahalo!

Irie