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Reggae Rules the World
Jamarado was founded in London by long-time Reggae DJ, fashion designer and style-life selector, Karen Proctor. Karen’s quest was to create the ultimate easy-to-use, super-stylish reggae and dancehall App for anyone drawn to exploring the music and lifestyle from those with a fledgling interest to those who live the music.
Release Date: October 18, 2018
Size: 59.5 MB
Age Rating: Rated 4+
Compatibility: Requires iOS 9.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.
The world of reggae in one, the App is designed to allow listeners to select the music by their mood or the general genre. Each Zone or more focused Special Selectahs allows subscribers to intuitively enjoy continuous flow, curated tracks from a hugely diverse collection. Karen wanted Jamarado to be all about the music—no Ads, no chat, fiddly playlists or image bombardment. She believes this Radio X Streaming approach creates an explorative and inspiring listening experience, streamlined to counter today’s overloaded choices. Jamarado is a new way to listen to reggae – the simplicity of the past with the tech of today.
Jamarado’s unique Lifestyle zone is integral to Karen’s vision. It includes a global Diary and Directory and snappy coverage of the best in reggaematic food, health, fashion and home alongside the people and the culture. Jamarado wants to connect and empower the businesses, creatives, artists, and people who love and live the music.
Behind Karen’s motivation lies the belief that this much-loved music deserves more reach and more power. Launched in 2019, Karen believes Jamarado can give the music more prominence, show its diverse talent and reach both existing and new audiences. In 2018 the UN ruled that reggae be protected due to its contribution to world peace and social equality.
Karen’s own passion for reggae has spanned over 20 years and touched her entire life from spirituality and politics to fashion, interiors, travel, food, festivals, and friends. It all started with a tape of Jamaican Rocksteady and a very memorable cab journey from Brixton with a Ghanaian driver who played Gregory Isaacs all the way. On hearing this music, Karen felt she came home.
The music drew Karen to a new world as she began DJing. It was the era of raves and house music where vinyl ruled and the clubs boomed. Karen succeeded in bringing reggae to the chill rooms, bars, and private parties. Moving to Notting Hill further fuelled her passion. She connected with the people who lived the music and the communities that have embraced it. She then won a Ph.D. scholarship at UCL to research the impact of Jamaican culture on British identity.
Single motherhood and fashion then called. Karen was one of the founding members of Liberty of London personal styling department, going on to run her own bespoke label Albertine Burdett (known for its tropical, floral and African Vlisco prints), and her own styling business, The Intrepid Stylist.
Throughout the highs and lows of her life, Reggae always grounded Karen. Whether listening at home or going out dancing she loves how uplifting the music is. As Bob Marley said “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain,” In Karen’s words, “Jamarado, like the music itself, was born from passion, loss and rebirth, and the belief that brighter days will always dawn.
The App is all about exploring the music and checking into its vibes, knowing the best places to go out, what to enjoy, how to look and feel good, whilst feeling a sense of belonging and adventure.”
Jamarado is the easy-reggae music and lifestyle App with a big vision.
Photography by: Lydia Evans
IRIE. Can you share with us the story about your cab journey from Brixton that introduced you to reggae music?
Karen Proctor. That’s a very long time ago, mid-90s. Seems a lifetime away now. I got the cab back after a House music rave at the Dog Star on Coldharbour Lane. it’s still there and back then when we had parties everyone talked to each other and engaged in a different way to now, much more open and free. Brixton, London was very much the place to party (and still is) – there was a freedom in the air there, a rebellious feel and a counter-culture within the youth as well as an empowered Afro-Caribbean community that had fought to establish themselves in Post-war Britain in the face of the racism and colonial legacies.
When it came to the acid house culture, Indie Scene and raves, money, status and hype around celebrities just didn’t feature – it was about having a good time, the music and the people. And being yourself! Who you met, what atmosphere you created in that one building where the music played and people lost themselves – that’s what mattered. You actually went out for the music, party vibes and to free your mind. Mobile phones barely featured then – let alone the Social Media.
To this day some of my deepest and best conversations have been with cab drivers. I was still very sheltered in a way at this time, coming from comfortable middle-class Blackheath and I loved hearing about lives different from my own—many times the cab drivers had the most interesting stories and experiences to tell as many had migrated or come as refugees. On this occasion, I got to hear Gregory Isaacs non-stop and that was at the time one of my first introductions to Reggae outside of Bob Marley. I have always been a hopeless romantic and of course, I fell in love with the lyrics and Gregory’s crooning voice and the warm tones of the rhythms and bass. What fascinated me was the connectivity of Ghana to Gregory Isaacs and Reggae too, given the histories of Jamaica and the African diaspora. The driver was telling me how popular Gregory was in Ghana. Years on I discovered Reggae artist Sonia Spence. Her voice is hauntingly, stunning. It’s the same story with her. Her most popular market was Ghana. I love how music travels in the expected and most unexpected way to other countries and people. That’s how it breaks down barriers and brings its universal human messages and experiences.
IRIE. You are a Reggae DJ & a Fashion Designer. You’ve also won a PHD scholarship at UCL to research the impact of Jamaican culture on British identity. What motivates you to be the entrepreneur that you are?
Karen Proctor. I’m only an entrepreneur in terms of my ambition to create a product or service that I’m passionate about and bring it to people. That for me is the true definition of the word -it’s about realizing a passion into an entity that can operate in the economy to generate positivity and income for people. This relates to my vision for Jamarado – I believe the music has huge potential to grow its revenues and elevate the lives of those who make the music and work in its community.
I became an entrepreneur out of necessity and personality. I didn’t seem to have a choice about being an entrepreneur as I tended to always cut my own path and my passions always seemed to push me down this route for better or worse. As a single mum, I was also always struggling to make ends meet working in child-friendly jobs so I was constantly thinking – what job can I create for myself to generate income and fulfill my purpose and potential? I think my education and upbringing taught me to be independent in thought, although sometimes I think that made my life more complicated. I actually started a Law degree, my parents barely talked to me for a year when I dropped out, but my passion for History just didn’t go away and I chose to study that.
Being an entrepreneur can be a tough and lonely road. There are many highs and lows and rewards in terms of achievement but it can feel like a lot of responsibility in the early days and I sometimes think picking the Road less traveled may not have been the easiest of routes, yet it is the one with the most interesting twists and turns, most beauty and deepest experiences.
IRIE. How did the idea for Jamarado come about?
Karen Proctor. The idea was based on having a well-designed, easy-to-use, stylish platform for getting all the music, lifestyle and culture in one place. When it came to the music, I wanted to find all the music I loved, across the styles from big classics to niche gems, from the 60s to now in one place. I also wanted to know where I could find the best Reggae-inspired places to eat, stay and go out around the world and where all the festivals were happening.
Ultimately, I wanted a simple process to enjoy and discover the life and culture as well as listen to the music. Our lives are so busy now and too full of choices and marketing bombardment – I wanted an effortless escape in my pocket to the world of Reggae.
Reggae is so diverse…… I wanted to bring that diversity out and connect it globally and show people the music’s huge breadth, talent, and vision. Somewhere, I guess, I felt Reggae has been dealt some difficult cards that have hampered its true empowerment as a musical and economic force.
When it came to the music I wanted to be able to get Roots, Lovers, Dancehall, Ska, Rocksteady, Afro-beats, Fusion and more at my fingertips without having to search or over-think what to play. I have individual artists that I love but often I just want the flow and vibe of the tracks and to discover new ones easily. I often found selecting on Spotify overwhelming and too many adverts on Youtube.
I started working on Jamarado 18 months ago, yet I had been looking for an opportunity to work with the music since DJing and my Ph.D. over 20 years ago.
IRIE. Did you experience any barriers or obstacles in taking Jamarado from concept to product?
Karen Proctor. I almost feel l should say No Comment………… mentally, financially, emotionally and spiritually it’s been one of the hardest things I’ve done. Little, independent start-ups with a global vision face a lot of challenges. Reggae faces many challenges….. it always has.
Artists have given their lives to this music and some have lost their lives. I often think of Bob Marley’s track Small Axe, that’s us!
I hope readers appreciate my honesty here! I can’t pretend otherwise. I say to people it’s like climbing Mount Everest. You have a compelling drive to do it and it calls you from the greatest heights but the magnitude of strength and faith that you need to climb is overwhelming.
The detailed planning and obstacle dodging are intense and it’s a constant learning curve which definitely stimulates your mind. The good news is, I have just made it to base camp – just about – I now have the mountain to climb and there are no guarantees that I’ll reach the summit. If I do reach the summit and have the privilege of putting Jamarado and the Reggae flag on-top of the world then I will definitely celebrate!!
It’s taught me so much about resilience and how incredible the Reggae artists are in their huge capabilities and determination to bring their music to the world.
IRIE. What do you hope users get from using Jamarado?
Karen Proctor. A unique and fun listening and lifestyle experience. Somewhere they can go to escape and be warmed by the beauty and power of the uplifting music. A sense of discovery and adventure and the chance to belong to an independent, global Reggae community that wants to empower the movement.
The opportunity to get back to the music as music and to find everything Reggae that you could wish for in one place.
IRIE. Is there anything you would like to say to the IRIE audience?
Karen Proctor. Sign up to Jamarado’s Free Trial to see what we’re really all about! Take the time to get into the App as the music will take you on many journeys.
And I’d really appreciate hearing from you directly! Email us on [email protected] If there are things you love, think we need to add or improve on, let us know…. We’re always growing and evolving.
I’d also love to hear which Zones people like and what they’ve discovered through the app.