Photography by: Danilo Moroni
Soom T is a Scottish singer of Indian origin. After having campaigned alongside Y Network, a group of young representatives of Glasgow ghettos aiming to change their city, Soom T decides to devote her life to music to denounce injustices and talk about her daily struggles through militant and impactful lyrics.
She was first a member of a hip-hop group, released a few bhangra songs (Indian popular music), then discovered sound systems and reggae culture thanks to different crews and producers, including Bus, The Orb, and Mungo’s Hi-Fi.
She is quickly spotted by the public thanks to her generous music and her incisive and inimitable flow. Soom T handles words with incredible ease and has always preached sincerity in her lyrics. She then becomes an essential artist of the underground reggae scene, known as the “The Raggamuffin Queen.”
After fifteen years of activity and nearly a hundred tracks to her credit, she released her landmark album “Free as a Bird” in 2015 on Wagram Music, which shows the full extent of her talent and musical spectrum. She followed that release with “Ode to A Karrot” (Khanti Records) in 2016, “Born Again” (Strong Foundation) in 2018, and “The Arch” (X-Ray Production) in 2020.
Soom T has been performing shows on the biggest stages in Europe (Dour,Solidays, Déferlantes, Paléo, Vieilles Charrues …) for over 20 years.
It’s 2022, and Soom T is back with a new studio album, “Good,” entirely self-produced through her label Renegade Masters. “Good’ is an album at the crossroads of reggae, dub, and jazz, in which she denounces, as usual, the political and social problems of our time.
In this new reggae-dub album, the result of ten years of writing, composition, and production, the Scottish MC blends the studio recordings of her musicians, The StoneMonks, with digital productions from various composers.
From this multitude of musicians and producers, an original sound is born at the crossroads of reggae, dub, and jazz, even sometimes pop.
The tracks “Big Bad World,” “Yes My People,” “Born Free,” “My Struggle,” “Your Time,” and “My Shelter” composed by the French producer Kiko bring a distinctive digital sound to an important part of the album. While “Don’t Stand for Dis” and “Steps” are signed by London dub legend Gaudi and pay homage to the early hours of dub music with great echoes and reverberations in the purest tradition of the style. “One Real Friend,” composed by Alex Dupuis of Flash Hit Records, brings a welcome swing and jazz touch.
“World We Live In,” “Our Day,” “I Wanna Live,” “Get the Fruit,” and “One More Tune” were composed and recorded in Paris over several years with The Stone Monks, under the supervision of Xavier Waks. He also mixed the entire album in his 31DB studio before passing it on to Simon Capony for mastering at Basalte Studio.
Soom T continues to denounce the current political and social issues, all with a spiritual approach, an inimitable style, and an incisive flow of her own. If she deplores the dark sides of our time in songs like “Big Bad World,” she also tries to find a ray of hope with tracks carrying positive messages, sometimes very melodic, such as “Don’tStand for Dis,” or catchy, like “Yes My People.” “I Wanna Live” and its heady guitar riff, “Our Day” with its bright major chords or even “Amazing Graces,” pour a flood of optimism amidst much heavier themes.
On the cover of “Good,” we find a portrait of Soom T, a microphone in her hand, designed by the French street artist specialized in 3D, Nikita.
Get ready for a unique musical journey searching for all that is good in this world with “Good,” the long-awaited new album from Soom T, aka the “The Raggamuffin Queen”!
Soom T will be back on the road in 2022, backed by her live band, The Stones Monks, to support her new album “Good,” scheduled to be released on April 8, 2022.
Soom T INTERVIEW
IRIE. Take us back to your roots. How did you get started in music?
Soom T. As a youngster life was tough. What teenager actually enjoys growing up in a corrupted western society surrounded by frustrated adults? Not me. Escape was a necessity and music was a great mercy during a predominantly grim time. My big brother Deerj very quickly urged me to stop listening to the commercial music on the radio and gave me cassette albums he selected from his massive music collection. Knowing I liked hip-hop, he swapped my MC Hammer for Rage Against the Machine, My Vanilla Ice with Cypress Hill, my Madonna with Body Count, and girl bands with Public Enemy. This was no doubt a massive influence in my life and one that would change the course of my life, my opinion about politics and activism, and my general musical tastes. Heard the truth early and was lucky to be able to escape the mass media commercial brainwashing at a relatively young age.
IRIE. Who were some of the musical influences that inspired you along your musical journey?
Soom T. As mentioned above, I also loved Michael Jackson, who was universally adored in my family. We also loved Bob Marley. I got into 2Pac, and I could rap out ‘Outlaws’ word for word. I enjoyed Warren G, Black Sheep, Bone Thugs N Harmony, Arrested Development, Lighthouse family, Lauryn Hill, Enya, M People, Celine Dion, Prodigy, Lata Mangeshkar, The Bluebells and a lot of other music which I listened to for many, many hours.
When I was 11, I got to go to a rock club in Glasgow called ‘13th Note’ to see my big brother Deerj play live with his metal band ‘Question Authority.’ His was the first band I ever saw live, and I was intoxicated with the loudness of the sound, the energy of the band, the aggressive yet jolly atmosphere of the moshpit, and the joy of the crowd. The manager asked our big brothers’ friend Derek to wait with us outside after only three songs because we were only children and too young to be inside the club and should not have been allowed in, but I did not care. Me and my little sister Vijya kept jumping up to see through the small window of the door and could see Deerj rocking out on the mic, rapping serious lyrics about animal testing and the powers that be. I felt very proud that that was my big brother, and I am sure I believed that day that I too could be a rocker just like him.
IRIE. Let’s talk about your upcoming release, GOOD, a studio album that you self-produced under your label, Renegade Masters. Can you share with us what the feeling is like to have complete control of your music and message?
Soom T. The first thought after completion of the album was, “I should have done this a lot sooner.” I have always allowed myself to be blown about in the wind a little. If a friend, label, or producer approached me, I would usually just let them take the reins and enjoy the lack of responsibility concentrating on songwriting and recording only. I have had brilliant experiences working with producers like Kunta of Zion High Foundation and also Romain Germa of Chapter Two, as the results were wonderful, but at other times I have had less input. This has sometimes resulted in my own musical and creative vision being blurred in the process.
However, after many collaborations working with several producers, I was finally confident that with the team I had, my experience thus far, and the label and agent I knew and trusted for well over a decade now, I could possibly achieve my goal. Talowa Productions helped massively by basically getting their in-house admin team to undertake part of the administrative aspects of the live songs studio productions. Xray also took the reins once the album was finished and guided me step by step through the project’s conclusion, including graphic design, track listing, and other elements. What a mission, but what a grand revelation. I had full creative control, and I am happiest with this album than any previous as I kept songs that I feel other producers would have ditched preferring to stick to their own musical taste. On this album, I did whatever I wanted, and beyond some guidance from my road and studio crew during the creation of the seven live songs, I pretty much did what I felt like, and it felt good. It felt authentic, and I must say, it made me feel happier inside, like it was the Lord’s plan for me all along.
IRIE. As the ‘Raggamuffin Queen,’ you are outspoken with your music, singing about the dark side of society while at the same time offering hope with songs that proudly carry a positive message. So powerful! How do you come up with your powerful lyrics?
Soom T. I believe that our art, lyrics, words and intellectual output is a direct reflection of our own inner thought process. My own clearly reflect my views of the world as a dark and awful place full of greed, corruption, war, lies, control, and Godlessness, but my faith in my precious Lord Jesus gives me hope and also eyes to see the good still in the world that no darkness can every touch because the Lord is still in control despite all the devil does to destroy what is good. This applies to people too. There is a light within all people that no evil will ever fully eradicate giving me hope that all people no matter what evil has touched them, can be saved from their dark road and brought to a place of good. There are most definitely times where the Holy Spirit of the Lord himself takes over his host bodies to offer a message of truth and hope to his struggling children on the earth, and I am certainly one of his tools due to the faith I have in the Lord as my shepherd and in that fact I rejoice daily. I suppose that is where the best and most powerful of lyrics come from, not from the tool itself but from the one wielding that tool. It is the Lord God whose son Jesus that wields those who have faith in him and that my friend gives me only the greatest hope and unbridled joy.
IRIE. GOOD is a breath of fresh air, a solid reggae-dub album that can be played from beginning to end and then repeated. Is it true that the album took ten years to write, compose and produce?
Soom T. That is encouraging. The very first songs were recorded in 2011.
Most of the early recordings never made it to the final cut. In the end, I had over 70 demos. Towards the end of 2017, I realized I needed to re-record a few songs with a live band, so my stage band re-recorded them but instead created brand new songs. I ended up with seven new songs, recorded live, and composed alongside Xavier Waks, our mixing engineer, and the musicians. The results were so good that many tracks were dropped to make room for these songs. We had three days of rehearsal and seven separate studio sessions for those seven songs, and what a learning curve it was. Songs previously recorded with several producers who are GAUDI, KIKO, and Alex Dupuis, were carefully selected, and with the help of Alex, Cyril, and Julie Cescut from Xray, an agreeable tracklist was established, with some bombs being dropped due to sample issues. It was heartbreaking, but in the end, we all agreed that after 10 years of recording and writing demos, we had a finished album.
IRIE. What is the meaning behind the title of your album, GOOD?
Soom T. All that is good in the world. We want to live a GOOD life, eat GOOD, live GOOD, speak GOOD, be GOOD, have GOOD friends, listen to GOOD music. Good is the simple philosophy that when a simple heart seeks, it will find itself living in the Kingdom of Heaven for eternity. The gospel of Christ was called ‘Good News’ and what good news it was. This is where the title truly comes from. It pays homage to the Lord Jesus Christ who in heaven was worshipped as the King of the angels but who chose to set aside his glorious life, his crown, and kingly robes and all the glory of his heavenly bearing to become a man of sorrows upon the earth living among the poor and downtrodden. The good news is that anyone on earth can be saved from damnation by accepting Christ as the sacrifice for their sins. We can now ask Jesus for forgiveness for past and future sins and also pray for others. We can believe by faith that God both hears us and responds to our prayers. I pray for forgiveness, guidance, and healing, and I accept the wonderful promise of a home in heaven forever after my earthly life is over. What news could be more GOOD than that?
We are also promised the gift of the Holy Spirit inside us, which is gifted to all believers. This spirit of Jesus himself assists and guides us into developing more righteous and sinless living habits until we are ready to welcome that glorious promised day when Christ shall return and raise us all up to heaven. As a result of the gospel, a true Christian fears nor pain nor death and would defend the truth and the gospel to the end with a courageous boldness that only the spirit of God can furnish one with. And that, my friend, is GOOD news indeed.
IRIE. Your lyrics don’t hold back in denouncing the political and social problems we face in these uncertain times. Tell us why it is crucial to be genuine and honest with your words?
Soom T. In the days of old, there were prophets appointed by God himself who were commanded to speak the truth in denouncing the wickedness, sins and evil deeds of the people of their day.
The prophet Elijah was threatened with death for his holy denouncements yet he obeyed the Lord and spoke the truth without fear.
This applied also to the denouncing of the nation’s leaders who were in a privileged position among the people and who were expected to burden their share of responsibility for upholding the moral and righteous laws to ensure a noble and just society but who instead chose their own paths of foolishness resulting in the political and social disarray of their nations.
As in the days of old, these so called leaders today are failing miserably, and it falls on all who would call themselves God’s people to denounce their lies, expose their tyranny and urge the good people of the nations to act in relation to corrupt activities, seeking justice for victims of such tyranny and most importantly to remind all of God’s unchangeable laws which govern all creation. This ensures they are shown their errors, given holy guidance on amending their errors and a warning of their punishment should they fail to correct their wicked course which does so much harm to others. It is crucial to be honest and genuine because without truth and honesty the world would be overtaken by lies, and only confusion, dissension and, anarchy would reign. In James 3:5 we read: Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts of great things. Behold how great a matter a little fire kindles. You can read the rest of the chapter in your own time. But this reminds us that our words are powerful and have lasting effect. This is why it is so important to be careful of the words we use to ensure they are rooted in truth, goodness, and righteousness and inspire to good works lest they be carried away to influence to bad works and set a fire that is not so easy to put out.
IRIE. The music production on GOOD is High-grade! The flow between your lyrics and music touches the soul! IRIE! Can you take us behind the scenes in self-producing the music for GOOD?
Soom T. This is a 10-year tale, so I will give you a short synopsis as possible. It took around 100 home studio recording sessions in Glasgow, Loch Lomond, Bristol, and Paris, work with around 11 composers, studio time working with my band in Paris creating new songs and recording them live, many meetings with the label, a tonne of help from Talowa Productions in house team and a never-ending to-do list which still has a way to go. It is described as self-produced, but without the guidance, help, talents, and skills of a massive team, it would not have happened so I self produced it along with all the Stone Monks, GAUDI, KIKO, Alex Dupuis, Xavier Waks, Simon Capony, Xray Production’s indispensible team, graphic artist Nikita and the wonderful Talowa Productions team who are Bastien Bacha, Hugo Fiori, Auriane Vigorous, Laetitia Grondin and Antoine. There is a huge team here, and they all deserve serious credit. It was good fun keeping the team updated on the status of the album and seeing it slowly come to fruition after each new recording session, studio rehearsal, writing day, or project management day and the final tracklists being built whilst discussing the release plans with Xray and being involved in every aspect of the development was a unique and wonderful experience.
IRIE. Is there a track on GOOD that resonates most with you?
Soom T. ‘I wanna live’ is closest to my heart, certainly lyrically but also in my top 5 instrumentally. The instrumental creation was an accident as well, and when Gregory Emonet began to play the warm and beautiful riff which begins the track and I decided to see if the original song I sung on another composition would work on his new riff it seemed born for the lyrics, atmosphere, and spirit of the song. It is also a rare slow song which I don’t have many of, and most of my tunes are fast so this allows for a soothing and melodic break. The Stone Monks did an excellent job of this, and this is a testament to their ability. In saying that, every song on the album on resonates deeply with me or they would not be on there.
IRIE. What do you hope your fans and first-time listeners take with them after listening to GOOD?
Soom T. I hope the existing fans appreciate my sticking to my reggae roots and giving them a solid reggae excursion with some quality digital thrown in for good measure and lyrically what they are used to by now while the new listeners I hope find something positive and uplifting, empowering and inspirational in an otherwise pretty dark world oversaturated with nonsense.
IRIE. You will be back on the road in 2022 to support your new album with your live band, The Stone Monks. Any new dates or shows we can share?
Soom T. FYI… I canceled my concerts until the ban of the unvaccinated from concerts was removed, a policy I find to be disgusting, fascist, divisive, prejudice and downright evil.
I just had the news that the Government of France are getting rid of the vaccine passport requirement meaning that the unvaccinated can now enter the concerts without problems so I will no doubt be back on the road from March 18th. All the show dates can be provided by Talowa Productions.
IRIE. Is there anything you would like to say or share with the IRIE audience?
Soom T. Turn back to God, people. When the Lord returns, and you look up into the sky and see him, it will be too late to say, “I didn’t believe you were real, so I did not bother to repent of my sins and ask Jesus to accept me into his kingdom.” Repent today and ask Jesus into your life. The world lies to you, the media lies, journalists lie, doctors lie, industry chiefs lie, Governments lie, churches lie, but Jesus Christ says, “I tell you the truth.” He also said, “I am the way, the truth and, the life. Nobody comes to the Father God except through me.” That is one bold statement indeed and one a wise person should meditate upon. Consider the thoughts I have shared with you, my friends, consider the matters I sing of, and seek God because God is love, and perfect love casts out fear. Jesus said, “He who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.” Be blessed in his precious name, my fellow sisters and brothers, on this hard yet sunlit path. Let us reach the end of our journey without fear or regrets but rather with faith, joy, and hope in our hearts until that great appointed day of Almighty God.
IRIE. Maaad Love & Respect, Soom T!
Soom T. And much love to you, my dear friend. God bless you. Until we meet, stay well.
TAGS#soomt #theraggamuffinqueen #good #yesmypeople
STREAM IRIE on SpotifyIRIE on Spotify