After two studio albums well received by both the public and media and hundreds of concerts all over France, Europe, and across the Atlantic, David Cairol has returned to the roots of his musical emotions in Jamaica, a place where a piece of his heart has always been.
The organic beat of Reggae led him one day to scribble his first verse, take up a guitar, find his voice, and juggle some words that would set him on a journey.
His first concert was supporting ‘Idir’ at the ‘Fête de l’Humanité’. By word of mouth and through his live performances, things moved on quickly. A tour as the opening act for the famous french reggae band Sinsemilia, and then playing for the promotion of the movie “Marley” in over 60 French cinemas.
David also opened for Inna de yard, Ayo, Flavia Coelho, Winston McAnuff, Java, Danakil, Asa, Jehro, Souad Massi, The Original Wailers, Louis Bertignac, Amadou and Mariam, Vanupié, alongside appearances at festivals such as Jazz in Marciac, les Tempos du Monde, Jazz à Vienne, les Océaniques, Rock sur les Galets, the International Festival of Granby (Québec / Canada).
Roads that led him to many faces and lives from which, in turn, beautiful collaborations were born. From featurings for Papa Style & Baldas, Esne Beltza to writing texts for Fabien Duclerc and Root’System, his versatile and playful style, in both French and English, got him selected by the french star Francis Cabrel and his team as part of the Rencontres d’Astaffort 2017.
In the same year, the album U.N.I. was released, for which he undertook a ‘tour de France’ of 4000 kms by an electric car to reach his fans, meet as many as possible in person play in their own homes, and present them with the album in thanks for their support.
U.N.I. earned him accolades and support from international french media TV5MONDE and RFI, among others, and a collaboration with Sylvain Chomet (director of Les Triplettes de Belleville, Oscar-nominated and Cesar winner), who directed the video “Crazy Lazy.”
TV5 MONDE included the song “Numéro” in the French language learning program in their French alliances and institutes abroad, as they had done for “Initiales,” a song from his first album.
Back from touring, a breath of fresh air in Jamaica was enough for him to reforge his ties with the country. His meeting with ‘Alliance Française’ in Kingston allowed him to develop and expand his songwriting workshops into the city’s high schools, something he had been doing in France for more than ten years.
His involvement immediately created a buzz in the capital, and David found himself on the front pages of all the major local media (T.V.J., C.V.J., R.J.R., The Gleaner).
Back on his native Basque coast, full of inspiration, David began to write and compose a double album. Six months to decide to record these songs in Kingston and surround himself and work with… the greatests. Matthieu Bost (Bost & Bim), the talented French producer, noted for his work with Chronixx (Skankin’ Sweet), Morgan Heritage, and Tairo, will be in charge of David’s new album.
Stephen Stewart and Sam Clayton Jr (Toots and the Maytals, Burning Spear, Groundation, etc…), both famous Jamaican producers, will produce four titles.
The project was proposed, and the legendary musicians of the island responded. Sly Dunbar, Earl “Chinna” Smith, Bongo Herman, Winston “Bo-Pee” Bowen, and Danny “Axeman” Thompson were ready and waiting.
As for the new generation, Winta James (producer of the Protoje albums and keyboards for Damian Marley), Courtney Bam Diedrick (Damian Marley drummer), Donald “Danny Bassie” Dennis (Protoje bassist), Hector Lewis (Chronixx backing vocalist and percussionist) and Paris Lamont (keyboards for Protoje) joined in for the remaining tracks on the album.
To add another dimension, David invited Judy Mowatt, famous as one of the backing singers for Bob Marley with the I-Threes, to join him in a duet. Brinsley Forde, leader and creator of the legendary group Aswad, was also invited to guest on a song with David, after the two struck up a good friendship in Jamaica. Var (Inna de yard, Pentateuch Movement) and Rik Jam, who he also met in Jamaica, were perfect to feature on two tracks.
This album will be full of color and encounters and marks a decisive turning point in David’s musical direction. With Reggae as its starting point and compass, without borders or barriers, David’s artistic and human journey continues.
A music that is rooted, but is also becoming, allowing ourselves to be lost but at the same time found.
In parallel to his album, David has committed himself to several other important projects in 2019. Brinsley Forde from Aswad invited him to write and compose on his own upcoming album. Among these tracks, David features alongside Judy Mowatt and Marcia Griffiths on “Million Miles”. This single was chosen as the 2nd single of the album to be released at the end of 2019.
Judy Mowatt proposed David to be the lead singer of the ‘Bob Marley Tracks project,’ a project to re-record 20 Bob Marley & The Wailers songs with the original sounds and arrangements. The production team are delighted to have David on board for this project. David will be surrounded by talented and legendary musicians, among them Donald Kinsey and Junior Marvin (original members of the Wailers), Judy Mowatt and Marcia Griffiths (I-Threes) and Shema McGregor (daughter of Judy Mowatt and Freddie McGregor) who will provide backing vocals.
Finally, in addition to the many songwriting workshops he holds in France, in 2019 David succeeded in setting up a first, in cultural education, by twinning a French high school and a Jamaican high school, with the aim of creating a common song, and producing a video clip shot in France and Jamaica. (In partnership with Tuff Gong International, Kingston and L’Atabal, Biarritz).
In February 2020, he releases his single “Hope Road”. A song that leads him to Jamaica to promote his music. A real pioneer, he is the first reggae singer to perform at the French Embassy in Kingston and also the first european artist to perform at the famous Dennis Brown show on the Waterfront.
The same year, he also organizes the second edition of the cultural exchange that he set up between french and jamaican schools. Campion College (J.A.) and Lucie Aubrac in Linxe (F.R.) meet up to create “Message in a bottle”, a song that warns us about our environment.
In 2021, the release of the single “Building Bridges” featuring Brinsley Forde and Var is a real success all over the world. The song is played on radios in more than 50 countries. As well as « Heartcore » that features the talented Rik Jam, released during the summer.
At the same time , famous french musical journalist Alain Gardinier invites him to write a dozen of pages in his book about Bob Marley, untitled « Bob Marley & la Légende du Reggae ». The book has been a great success and has been promoted on the major mainstream media in France.
The road is paved, the bridges built, and the direction is known. The appointment is made. It’s time to write the new “verse.”
David Cairol INTERVIEW
IRIE. You’re originally from the Basque Coast. Can you take us back to your roots? How did you first get into reggae?
DAVID CAIROL. Yes, I was born in Biarritz on the Basque Coast, and I grew up with my mother, grandmother, and aunt, with friends and family around all the time. I spent most of my free time surfing. My mother listened to a lot of music, including The Police, Supertramp, and Micheal Jackson. And it seemed I was always singing in her car and everywhere. She was even turning off the radio so that I could sing alone.
Then I listened to a lot of rock, hip hop, and soul (from Jimi Hendrix to Rage Against the Machine and De La Soul).
At the age of 14, me and my classroom we’re going on a school trip to England. A few weeks before leaving, I lent a tape of Lenny Kravitz to one of my friends and told him to give it back to me for the trip. When I got the cassette tape back, I put it in my player. It was not Lenny Kravitz but Legend from Bob Marley & The Wailers. That “mistake,” which is not, of course, in my eyes, changed my life forever. Every song was so powerful and touched my soul so profoundly. It gave me chills all the time. Then I tried to discover all his work, buying his albums step by step when I got some money. And then I find out the fantastic forest behind him. Since that memorable day, I have listened to Reggae music like no other genre.
IRIE. Who are some of the musical influences that inspired you to become the reggae artist you are today?
DAVID CAIROL. So yes, Bob Marley & The Wailers. And I have so much in mind. What comes to me first are The Gladiators, The Mighty Diamonds, Judy Mowatt, Dennis Brown, Jacob Miller, The Wailing Souls, Burning Spear, Aswad, The Kingstonians, Buju Banton, Sizzla, and so much more!!
IRIE. Where do you draw inspiration when writing new songs and lyrics?
DAVID CAIROL. Melodies are already in the air, and I got them through the antenna the Creator gifted me. But, for me, most of the time, lyrics come after and are first inspired by the mood of the melody. And are connected to reality. What I experience in my life but also what I see, feel, and hear around me daily.
If we talk about the form, I love playing with words and finding the right punch line to impact and réflection my visions.
IRIE. How would you describe your sound?
DAVID CAIROL. It’s a mix of Roots Reggae and New Roots, with hints of Soul, Rocksteady, and Rub a dub.
IRIE. You spend a lot of time in Jamaica creating your music. What keeps you coming back?
DAVID CAIROL. A lot of things!! The music and working here, of course, recording, concerts and school projects, the people and their beautiful energy, the friends and family I have here now, the food and of course surfing!!
IRIE. We know you perform school workshops in Jamaica. How did that come about?
DAVID CAIROL. Going to Jamaica for the first time was a blast. I didn’t know anybody in Kingston, but I wanted to give back something to that country, to that culture that inspired me so much and guided me to become the man I am today. So I went to the Alliance Française and proposed to them to do some songwriting workshops in French like I have been doing for many years in France.
They proposed the project to several colleges and high schools in Kingston, and the answers were so positive that I had a lot of workshops to do. Of course, I didn’t expect this because I was on holiday. However, it made a real buzz in Kingston; they all wanted to interview my set, and to my surprise, I was invited on the main TV shows and radio and featured in many articles as well!
The following year I set up with my friend and English teacher an exchange between Jamaican and French students; the goal is to make them write a song together, sing it and play it right. Jamaican writing and singing in French and French in English.
This year is the 3rd edition.
IRIE. You are currently finishing up your latest album. What can you share with us about it?
DAVID CAIROL. The title of my new = album is Vers(e), which means so much to me. It is the album I was dreaming of recording for many years. I recorded it in Jamaica with many Reggae legends, from Judy Mowatt to Sly Dunbar, Bongo Herman, Bopee Bowen, Dalton Browne, etc. You also have the new generation of talents performing, including Chronixx, Damian Marley, and Protoje.
I’m so proud of this album. It’s a real unique human adventure. Musically as for its message about nature and our behavior on Planet Earth.
IRIE. Is there a song you’ve written that resonates most with you? If so, why?
DAVID CAIROL. I would have to say Building Bridges. Five years ago, I wrote it in my tiny room next to Hope Road. Somebody asked if I could add a new song for collaboration, and as I didn’t have any songs ready, I wrote this one, and it came like magic. First, it was supposed to be with two other artists, but finally, we did it with Brinsley Forde and Var, who are like family to me. I know people love that song when they listen to it, and I’m really proud to share it with such a team.
IRIE. Do you have a memorable moment performing your music live on stage?
DAVID CAIROL. Last week I would have said the Dennis Brown show on the Kingston Waterfront in 2022. I was invited to perform just before Julian Marley with some of Dennis Brown’s original musicians like Desie Jones. There were like 50 000 people in front of me. They even sang “Hope Road” with me at the end. It was unbelievable.
But now, I would say the Bob Marley Celebration, as I played last Monday at 56 Hope Road. When Judy Mowatt came up on stage, it was so incredible for me and, at the same time, so powerful. I will never forget that moment.
IRIE. What do you hope your fans and first-time listeners take with them after listening to your music?
DAVID CAIROL. I would say “Hope,” as Reggae music taught me that when I was younger, staying positive and feeling good. And also the melodies that I sing so they can sing and spread the music around.
IRIE. What’s in store for David Cairol in 2023?
DAVID CAIROL. My new album will release on March 24th, 2023. I’ll also be in concert in French Polynesia, Europe, China, and Brazil, almost everywhere! So stay tuned; I will soon be next to you!
IRIE. Is there anything you would like to say or share with the IRIE audience?
DAVID CAIROL. I want to give thanks to you, Nicholas, and Michelle. You are doing such great work for Reggae music everywhere. I appreciate your support. I am thrilled to work with you both. People go out and buy the album or stream it! Bless up!