from the roots up with new jamaican reggae superstar, protoje

"Music saved me from a life of depression and being lost, it gives me direction. When you get up in the morning and you do something that you love, it’s a feeling that you can't put money on." He may have recently relocated away from Kingston but...

by Milly McMahon
26 August 2014, 7:30pm

Ash Kingston

Now in-between homes and touring the world promoting Ancient Future, his third and most anticipated album, Protoje played his debut London show at the RBMA stage at Notting Hill Carnival this weekend. Dodging the West London rain, Protoje fronts vibrant colour from his collar and cuffs right through to the conversation.

You've shot videos in some beautiful parts of the world, where do you consider to be your own personal paradise? 
There's a little town in Costa Rica called Porta Vela that I really like. I wasn't around in the 70s or 80s naturally, but it reminds me of what Negril in Jamaica would've been like then.

I love the video for your song Arguments.
That was my first video, my sister shot it, I was real proud of her. It kind of started everything for me so I'll always have a special place for it.

Did the girl that you wrote that song about respond to it? You sing about monogamy being difficult, do you still feel challenged by remaining loyal to just one woman?
It's about one or two people. Right now I'm not with someone but I can be faithful though, for three years I was in a relationship and I held it down, you know.

Do you want to have kids yourself one day?
It's important to me that I really love the person that I have a relationship with because only that way something special can come out of it. I think that the main problem with youth nowadays is that they aren't sprung forth from a deep connection between two people, so that's what I am working on.

In a previous interview you quoted Oscar Wilde. You said you should always endeavour to see the good in someone even if it doesn't seem to exist on surface level.
It's about understanding and empathy - it's something that I'm trying to work towards. That's why I say that stuff in interviews or in my lyrics, so I can hear the sentiment back and be held to what l have said. At the end of the day people want to be happy, there's no one out there who wants to be miserable. Even when someone goes out and does something horrible, somewhere down inside him there's good. They are probably doing that to find some sort of satisfaction and feel that's the only way they can go.

Of all the tracks you've written which has the most profound verse in terms on representing you?
I wrote 7 Year Itch at my lowest point - it was my first song on my first album. I felt like I was about to give up when I wrote that, I was like, 'do I go and get a job and give up on this'. Then there's a song on my new album called Who Can You Call. It's me being honest about lots of stuff, it reminds me of who I want to be.



Text Milly McMahon
Photography Ash Kingston

Notting HIll Carnival
Ancient Future
Ash Kingston
Milly McMahon