Princelion: Who is GemSton:e?
Gemston:e: Gemstone is a very career focused fun loving and friendly individual, who loves to laugh, loves family, friends and life.
When did your carrier as a singer start?
I got started in music pretty early in life. Music was always apart of my family while growing up. My dad was a big Dancehall fan and my mom was and still is a lover of Reggae music, specifically Bob Marley songs. My actual singing and song writing skills came "into play" when I was about 10 years old and it just grew from there. I was singing solo parts in the choir at church. Then a friend of mine called Gallawass, who is a Dancehall Dj, asked me to collaborate with him on a song, a dancehall song for a competition in Portmore called Portmore Star Search, in which we made it to the finals and the judges liked us and endorsed our style. That is where my dancehall music career began.
GemSto:n is not only a singer, you’re also a teacher at U.W.I., what do you teach there?
I lecture Linguistics at the University where I am also doing my PhD in Linguistics.
Do you think your degree has helped you also in the world of music?
Yes, to some extent it has, because my PhD thesis is on the Phonology of Dancehall music and it is approaching the music from a scientific view. It allows me to spend more time researching the genre of Dancehall which has really motivated me as a dancehall artist. Not only that, but having my degree got me the lecturing position at U.W.I and that helps me to pay for a lot of musical works such as production and production elements such as studio time, etc.
Do you think education is important in music?
Yes, it is important in music, it is not essential to talent, but it is important in the sense that an artist must be intellectually aware their surroundings. They must have knowledge of the business and be able to understand the music industry and other aspects of life. Without education, it is almost next to impossible to move forward in life in an effective and rewarding manner.
Where do you start when you’re writing a song?
It depends on my meditation at the time, usually I start with a chorus, as soon as a melody comes in my head, I write it down. At other times, I may start off writing a verse and then later on come up with a chorus that suits it.
Who inspired you?
My musical inspiration came from my dad, he loves music and would always play the legends of the past in our home, especially Bob Marley. My uncle was also a big inspiration to me, he loved writing and singing music and I would watch and listen to him for hours and even try and sing along to his songs.
Which are your favorite artists of the present and the past?
In regards to the past, I would have to say Bob Marley, because he crossed musical barriers and touched the world with his songs. You can feel his passion through his words and this passion connects with his audiences. I also love and admire Ladt Saw, because she is so talented and hardworking, she is truly the Queen of Dancehall. There are so many favourites, I can’t put them all here, but to name a few: I like Queen Ifrica, Mavado, Demarco, Vybz Kartel, Beenie Man, Bounty Killer, Sizzla, Capleton, Beres Hammond and Assassin.
You have just released “Negation” on the party session riddim produced by the Italians Nite Lite, how did this collaboration rise?
I met the Italians who are the owners of Nite Lite Productions through my friend and fellow artist Asante Amen. He introduced me to them in Ocho Rios early last year. They heard me sing and gave Asante the riddim to give me and I recorded Negotiation on it and they liked it, that’s how that song came about with Nite Lite.
Moreover you have worked together with Mr.Rango, a veteran in the Spanish Reggae scene, you have made a video with him and sang on the base of Daddy Cobra. Why do you have this relation with the Spanish artists?
I love the Spanish Language, it is one of my favourite languages of the 5 that I speak. I met Mr. Rango in Jamaica 10 years ago when I was a teenager, we have always been in touch over the years and we decided recently to do a song together. Called “Eres Mia” for Daddy Cobra’s label and then Cobra asked me to do another song solo for the label.
What are your future projects? Are you planning to release an album? Or maybe to do a European tour?
Yes, I am currently working on my Album called “Diamond in the Ruff”, hopefully I should finish it by next March. I have a few shows coming up, Mr. Rango and I will be performing at Plug n Play, which is a Kurfew Productions event at the Hilton in Kingston in December. We are also confirmed for another major show in December that is staged in Portmore, Jamaica, I don’t want to name it as yet. Next Summer I will be doing a show in Madrid, Spain that is being promoted by Kaloncha Sounds.
What do you think about contemporary Dancehall in JA and in the rest of the world, comparing it to some years ago?
Dancehall has definitely changed since the 90s, it is fusing more and more with hip hop and pop music, but there are still some veterans in the business that are trying to keep “dancehall” true to “dancehall”. I like some of the contemporary stuff because change is inevitable in any career field in the world; but I miss the original swag of the 90s, in terms of the dances, the riddims and the vocal quality production.
Now a question we have made to many artists: for which producer, dead or alive, would you like to sing?
I would love to work with Dave Kelly, Stephen Marley and Timberland.
And with which singer?
I would love to collaborate with Bob Marley and Nicky Minaj.