Raging Fyah is one of the hottest, most captivating and powerful entertainment packages coming from a long awaited Jamaican reggae renaissance in the last few years. They are an authentic, soul-filled, roots/rock/reggae band with a contemporary flair that will set your soul on fire! The ‘Fyah’ was ignited in 2006 by Anthony Watson (drummer), Demar Gayle (keyboardist) and Delroy Hamilton (bassist); who were later joined by Courtland White (guitarist) and Kumar Bent (lead singer) as they set out to rekindle a flame of positivity in the music industry.
Fueled by passion, purpose and life experiences, their lyrics touch the soul of the listener, uplifting and motivating people from all socio-economic and cultural backgrounds. Whether the message is love, peace or empowerment, Raging Fyah burns through barriers of time, age, race or class with relatable songs for everyone to love.
In 2011, they released their critically acclaimed debut album ‘Judgement Day’, gaining instant popularity and presence locally and internationally. Some of the songs like the title track ‘Judgement Day’ and hit single ‘Far Away’ received heavy rotation on the airwaves and even found their way onto a few notable charts. With conscious roots/reggae on the rise again, the ‘Fyah’ continued to spread into 2012 as they steadily captured the hearts of the Jamaican listeners.
There was a heavy demand for the talented and versatile band’s thrilling live performances at various shows – from intimate acoustic sets to large stage shows such as Rebel Salute and Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival. In that same year the band hit the road to perform on a number of global stages as well as to headline several major reggae festivals in Europe like Summerjam, Rototom Sunsplash and Garance.
Then came their sophomore album, Destiny, in 2014, bringing with it rave reviews, widespread recognition and a massive global following. The band has since been touring heavily throughout Europe, Costa Rica and areas of the South Pacific promoting their brand and delivering solid performances from their second album.
Raging Fyah is currently in studio working on a third album which, they promise, is set to surpass the reach of the previous two and have also released four new singles – ‘Barriers’, ‘Naah Look Back’, ‘Dance With You’ and ‘Brave’. They will close 2015 with a US West Coast tour and their own highly anticipated event – the five-year-strong Wickie Wackie Music Festival in Bull, Bay, Jamaica on December 5 & 6.
Irie Magazine had a chance to sit down with Kumz Fyah to reason about Roots Reggae, Touch the Road and the Wickie Wackie Music Festival.
IRIE. What prompted Raging Fyah to become the host of the Wickie Wackie Music Festival?
Kumz Fyah: Well we’ve been doing Wickie Wackie Live for 5 years, same venue, same community, same energy. So to improve on what we had invested so much time, energy and capital into, we decided to step it up and host our own Wickie Wackie Music Festival where there is roots rocking reggae music, beach vibes and sound systems for two days… it’s a real family affair.
Likewise, there is nothing like this happening in the East of Jamaica. To us it seemed like a great way to really capitalize on what we have out here— an airport next door and Kingston the heartbeat of Jamaica around the corner. Also from being Bob’s Marley’s regular running endz to Billy Mystic’s surf camp, Jamnesia, the area has nurtured the life energy of many musicians, veterans and upcoming.
IRIE. What makes Wickie Wackie different from other music events in Jamaica?
Kumz Fyah: Well, first, a bit about the name. Wickie Wackie is a small community here in Bull Bay 7 miles outside of Kingston and about 10 minutes from Norman Manley Airport. We started as a free, community inclusive event over five years ago, so it only made sense to name it after the community that nurtured the spark.
From the musicians who touch the stage to the man who builds and strings up the sound; we all became family. Most importantly, what makes Wickie Wackie different is that it has always been a space where up and coming musicians can showcase their talent. For example, we [Raging Fyah] started the show to create a platform for people to hear our music. With Jamnesia next door, everything just fall into place; Bully Bay became a musical endz. Now we’re at a stage in our careers where we have the know-how and experience to offer this same stage to upcoming bands & artistes like Earth Kry, Ras-I & Persons of Interest. There are so many more worth mentioning. You’ll just have to come see them live!
IRIE. You guys have been touring like madmen, performing around the world while growing your fan base. And now, you are about to embark on a tour of California with four dates beginning with Santa Cruz, CA and ending in San Diego, CA. What’s the feeling like for you?
Kumz Fyah: It’s a great feeling having performed in Cali at the SNWMF two years ago and since then we have always wanted to do a West Coast tour. The opportunity arose to get out that side with the support of Caliroots and VP Records so we’re looking forward to bringing the fyah.
IRIE. Are there any Cali Reggae bands that you would like to collaborate with?
Kumz Fyah: Yeah man! Tomorrow’s Bad Seed & Slightly Stoopid have a cool sound. Of course there’s others making waves, Rebelution & Tribal Seeds, why not?! If the door’s open, we’re ready to work.
IRIE. Any chance that we’ll see you guys perform at Cali Roots 2016 (our fingers are crossed)?
Kumz Fyah: Hopefully! Yeah, I look forward to performing on Cali Roots. Band’s got their fingers crossed too… so that’s a lot of fingers crossed!
IRIE. Let’s talk about your sound which we feel is a beautiful interpretation of the classic reggae sound of the 70’s that has evolved. How are you guys able to recreate this magic in the studio with each album release?
Kumz Fyah: The magic happens outside of the studio, first in rehearsal and in our listening habits. Likewise our lifestyle, the things we read, the questions we ask about the world we live in.
That being said, love is the final additive. We grew up listening to this music, these are our roots.
We’re currently working on the third album. Look out Cali!
IRIE. Does having your own recording label, Raging Fyah Productions, help you guys stay true to your sound?
Kumz Fyah: Yes and no. Yes, because we have developed a sound already for ourselves, but we realize the value in sharing musical energy with other like-minded and more experienced producers like Lamar Brown (Riff-Raff) because currently this third album is going to be released under VP’s newest distribution label, Dub Rockers. So, yeah, working with others is just to enhance what we already have – not to change it – we will always be Raging Fyah. It’s one of the best things about doing business these days, you can negotiate and have autonomy in your creation.
IRIE. What can first-time visitors to the Wickie Wackie Music Festival expect to experience?
Kumz Fyah: Top quality roots, rocking reggae on the beach, under the sun with your toes in the sand while you’re surrounded by family, nourished with local food, fresh coconut wata and herbs. We’ll be surfing, jamming, drumming, doing yoga, painting, making memories – its just a Wickie Wackie World. We’ll have a wide array of local products being showcased, arts, crafts, fashion, healing remedies – we’re supporting local and travelling local… that’s what its about this year.
IRIE. Are there any surprises planned for this year’s event?
Kumz Fyah: We’ll see – if you reach Wickie Wackie beach, I guess you’ll find out.
IRIE. Is there anything you want to say to those who are thinking about attending WWMF but are still on the fence?
Kumz Fyah: What fence? Even ZincFence Family is gonna be there! We don’t expect everyone to be able to come this year, but we do hope the ones who can make it out from Cali will go back home and tell a friend to tell a friend WWMF haffi reach in 2016.
IRIE. Tell us about Touch The Road & their involvement in WWMF this year?
Kumz Fyah: As a band we travel all over the world meeting fans who dream of visiting Jamaica. It’s great to be able to present them with an option to experience our home country, feel the music, travel safely and see the real Jamaica. So for this year’s staging, we decided to partner with Touch The Road who we believe does a great job of taking travelers through Jamaica. They are a local destination management company committed to sustainable travel and are facilitating the community inclusive element for travelers to experience WWMF this year with camping, local accommodations and tour packages. Central to their model is the development of local communities through tourism, so we know it’s a great way to get the Wickie Wackie Community and Kingston’s local travel stakeholders involved in growing the community tourism scene in St. Thomas.
IRIE. TTR seem to be offering a completely different product when it comes to travel and entertainment in Jamaica. Can you tell us more about this?
Kumz Fyah: What’s unique about TTR is that they are committed to taking travelers outside of the typical resort experience and bringing them directly into communities. Navigated by trained local guides, people from around the world can take day and night tours, multi-day experiences and explore the true local scene here in Jamaica. It’s about interacting, sharing culture, and showing off the best of what Jamaica really has to offer while supporting the local community at the same time.
IRIE. What can we expect from Raging Fyah, Touch The Road & WWMF for 2016?
Kumz Fyah: WWMF 2016 for sure! Maybe we’ll be able to showcase artistes from around the world to our local community just like how we’ve been showing the rest of the world what we are doing over here. It’s about spreading rebel music – music for jah people. Thanks Irie Mag, Every time.
IRIE. Much love and respect from Irie Magazine!