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Right on the cusp of his second single release tomorrow, #TeamIrie gets into the mind of Evaflow – the self-proclaimed ‘Systarter’ out of Jamaica ready to ‘ding the culture’ with his musical craft’.
Familiar Stranger is a story of love and longing featuring reggae songstress Sara Lugo, produced by Protoje and The Drumkeys. The romantic tune explores fantasy, mystery, curiosity and desire for a peek at his softer side, and he’s hoping to get into the ears of listeners that can relate all across the globe. Dive in…
The mind of a child is at once fertile ground and a sea of possibilities. So much so, that natural inclinations and affinities in our formative years often leave clues to the person we’ll become. Such is the case with recording artiste/music producer, Evaflow, whose relationship with music began as a youth. In the 90’s, little Matthew Elliott was growing up in the bustling town of Santa Cruz, St. Elizabeth, in Jamaica, enchanted by stories woven into the musical works of Bob Marley and Michael Jackson— a fascination his father, an avid reggae, R & B/Soul vinyl collector, unwittingly sparked and nurtured.
Introduction to Sizzla & Vybz Kartel led to deeper exploration of the artform as a teen. He would rewrite the lyrics of popular songs (keeping the original melodies) much to the enjoyment of his peers, whose reactions pushed him to continue. He then penned his first original song, Run Dis, at age 14, which was a school hit and became “an obsessive songwriter” since. And yet, much like the river of feelings marking childhood to adulthood, the journey through reconnecting with his soul’s truest expression was initially quite challenging. Naturally artistic, highly intelligent youths like himself often found themselves conflicted by and frustrated with the fervent disapproval of their loved ones who encouraged corporate settings as the ultimate goal or reward for their gifts, believing creative professions weren’t potentially lucrative or fulfilling.
It’s a struggle that resonates with artists of all kinds, and, for several years, held him captive to its convictions, so he stopped sharing his work with the world. After much internal conflict he learned to undo himself from others’ expectations and claim the happiness he sought pursuing his own dream. Meandering through these emotions and drawing on his inner strength became the springboard that launched the tenacious, resilient, unrestrained creative he is today.
Evaflow sees the sky—a space that, for him, represents preparedness, great health and sound mind— not as the limit, but as limitless. For him, “the sky is the start” (his personal motto). This philosophy means “one must be able to fly, being in a place of consistent, purposeful action”. It even inspired the name of his multimedia company, SkyStarter Creative. The start-up is an umbrella for all his artistic endeavours and an empowerment tool for young creatives who feel misunderstood and unsupported by the world around them as he once did. It represents a resolve that anyone can become more self-aware, take the reins of their lives and make a difference, instead of trying to fit into a model that doesn’t resonate with their core being. He also named his supporters #skystarters,which, he explains as, “someone who knows their worth as a unique expression of life, and their immense’power as a manifestation of the infinite”. It comes from the concept that while we strive to be the best version of ourselves, the real end goal is using that motivation to make a solid impression in our earthly existence.
Fuelled by life, The Source, and all things encompassed, and having honed his skills studying his early career influences, along with the likes of Jay-Z, Vybz Kartel, Damian Marley, Joey Badass, Black Uhuru, Outkast, Migos, J. Cole, Pharrell and UGK, he, too, is a master lyricist, skillfully caressing and firing up any beat he connects with. As Jamaica’s music evolves, he plays an instrumental role in pushing the boundaries of traditional expectations and refers to his eclectic blend of Reggae, Hip-Hop and Dancehall as Hip-Hall or Dub-Hop, described as “Bob Marley meets Jay-Z with a splash of N.E.R.D”. Music will always be his most honest expression, and he continues to erode previous conditioning by walking in his purpose, aiming primarily to “ding the culture” and better his craft every day.
“My goal is to positively contribute to the art form in such a way that my influence inspires other artists to take what I have done a step further, feel more powerful, know their worth and embrace who they are. I want to woo listeners with motivational and romantic expressions and make them feel something. To advance the bars of lyricism and songwriting, evolving the culture in a positive direction. My motto is “The Sky isn’t the Limit, it’s just the Start” and like Steve Jobs, who wanted to ‘Ding the Universe’ I want to ‘Ding the Culture’ over and over again. The world is my gallery, my work will hang across its walls as a symbol of an era when artists dared to fuse genres and create art that’s not entirely Reggae or Dancehall, just great music.”
Tune in to the IRIE channel tomorrow for a first look at the Familiar Stranger lyric video. The single will also be available tomorrow for streaming and purchase on all digital platforms, as well as on Evaflow’s website, www.evaflowmusic.com.