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MARK RAGSDALE ASKS 20 QUESTIONS TO SOLOMON JABBY

1. How did you get interested in reggae music and dub music in particular? 

As a young 13 year old drummer I became fascinated with the rhythms I heard on a Bob Marley album. I started playing along with reggae records to learn what they were doing. One day in my local library I found the album 'King Tubby Meets the Rockers In A Firehouse.' This was my first exposure to dub music and I was blown away by Tubby's mixing and by the musicianship of Augustus Pablo. This is where I first began to study dub music. I went on to play other styles of music but none of the style moved me like reggae did. 

2. You play all the instruments on your CD, Rootical Revelations. What is your musical background and training? 

I started playing drums when I was 9 year old. I had a little cheap drumset in my bedroom and I used to play along with Beach Boys records. In my early teens I began to take lessons and I played in a band in high school. While in college I changed my major to Jazz Studies and I played in the university jazz band and latin ensemble for about a year. After a year I got out of the jazz program. It was really hard because as a drummer I was having to learn how to read music and having to learn music theory at the same time, and I couldn't keep up. A couple of years later I played drums in the college chapel band. It was a great experience both musically and spiritually. After a couple of years playing there I began to feel a little limited as far as creativity is concerned. I was really getting into recording my own music. It allowed me to put my soul on tape. The reggae that had so influenced at an early age came to the forefront of my vision for what I wanted to do. When I started out, I didn't any idea what I was going to do with it, I just kept moving forward. Very shortly after I started recording some reggae tracks, I began to get interested in dub production. This began an intense pursuit of any information I could find about how dub was made by the original dub pioneers of the genre. 


3. Playing all the instruments yourself must have took a long time. Did you have any help in the studio? 

Unfortunately not, and yes it is very difficult and time consuming to work alone in the studio. I hope to find someone soon to assist me. I feel like the more people you can get involved in a project, the better quality the album will be. It's kind of like the "two heads are better than one" philosophy. 

4. How did you get Jim Fox involved in your project? 

Mark Mohr of Christafari was helping me with the final stages of the cd. He recommended that I try to get Mr. Fox to master the album due to his extensive experience with dub music. He accepted and it was really a blessing to have someone of Mr. Fox's stature be a part of my project. He is definitely a professional and a great person to deal with as well. 

5. When did you become a Christian? 

I was saved on a youth retreat at Jekyl Island when I was 14. I drifted away during my high school years and pretty much turned my back on what I knew was true. During my freshman year in college, I clearly felt the arms of the Almighty pulling me back into a relationship with Him. I haven't turned back since although I have had my doubts from time to time, but through my struggles He has answered each one...Selah. I have much to learn and many areas in which to grow, but that is what life is for. 


6. Many of the songs on your CD are instrumentals. How did the song titles of these come about? 

6 of the 15 have some type of vocals in the song. The titles for the instruments came about in different ways. Many times a title will come while reading the scriptures, other times they just come during prayer. My music is still in its infant stages, spiritually, meaning I don't feel like Jah's plan for my music has completely unfolded. I would like to see the day when I have a band to go on tour with in other countries so I could have direct contact with the people. I feel like I am a missionary at heart, I would like to somehow use my music in that way, to minister to people both in the US and internationally. 

7. How did the name Dub Revelator come about? 

I seek to 'reveal' the Truth of Jesus through dub music. Even in the instrumental tracks I seek to reveal Him. I want people to know that you can be artistically creative and be a Christian, these things are not contradictory. I didn't like church as a youth because I viewed it as being boring and counter-creative, that is a consequence of non-Biblical tradition. If I have the Spirit of THE Creator living inside me, I should be more 'infused' with creative energy than the world. Unfortunately, many times Christians claim you are 'diluting' the message if you spend too much time on the music. But who will listen to the message if it is in a cheap, thrown together package? I say make the music unique, creative, and original so they will at least open it. 

8. How long does it take to record a song once you start on it? 

It really depends. Some songs develop rather quickly while others take alot of time and experimentation before they begin to unfold into something I feel pleased with. Generally speaking, a song usually takes 5-10 days, but I usually work on two songs at a time. The reason for this is, after hearing the same song over and over, I lose my ability to listen to it objectively. By having another song in the works I can go to the other one to 'clear my ears' so to speak. Then after a few days I will return to first song and finish it. 

9. Why did you release your CD yourself instead of signing with a label? Was this ever a consideration? 

Well, when the cd was complete I didn't have any offers. I hadn't really sent any demos out for one reason, for two years straight I was just recording and recording, thinking I may be able to use the material for a demo cd. Then I sent a rough version of all my work to Mark Mohr. He told me to get it printed up and get everything retail-ready, and he would sell it in his store. A few weeks after that I had a complete album with no label, so I just released it under my own label "Altarsound Records." I am currently talking with a couple of small labels so we'll see what happens. 


10. What was the hardest part about recording your CD by yourself? 

I only had two arms. Also, it is sometimes difficult when recording real instruments to get everything to sound right with just one person listening, it is hard to listen to your own song objectively. It's also very important to have someone else listening to everything in order to get a second opinion to make sure mistakes don't go unnoticed. It's also very hard to check the levels while recording drum tracks by yourself. I have to do it as best I can while sitting at the kit, then I record a little rhythm, rewind, listen and make adjustments. I usually do this several times before I start to record the final track. It has almost made me quit on several occasions but I would always come back and continue working. I think I am often being taught the lesson of patience and perseverance, a lesson I have yet to master. 

11. When you write a song, do you start with, say a roots song then dub it up, or do you already have the dub in mind? 

Yes, I record a roots song first. After I have a solid song that I am pleased with, I will start thinking about the dubbing process. I will usually listen to the song beginning to end several times while I make notes about where certain parts are in the song, like where a guitar riff is or an organ solo. Then when I go to dub, I have feeling of what instrument I want to bring out in the dub and where it is in the song. 

12. Is there a message behind your music? 

'One day the whistle ago blow, make sure the people gonna go, Christ is the Light I say, Jah Jah Son is the only way.' -Youth Revolution (Version) 

13. Some people say that reggae music is the music of a false religion and that Christians should have no part with it. What would be your response to these people? 

Well, there is no doubt that many have been saved through reggae based Christian ministries, so my opinion is, if souls are being saved, then there are no grounds for debate. 

14. Who are your musical influences? 

Yabby You, for lyrics and roots, King Tubby's dub mixing, and Augustus Pablo's instrumentals. 

15. What is your opinion of the current state of the CCM industry? 

I don't know alot about it but from what I've heard it sounds like some wolves in sheep's clothing have invaded the camp. I think we need to run the money changers "outta de temple fe sure." I think Christian artists need to be wise and refuse to do business with these producers who jumped on the CCM bandwagon when they learned they can make a dollar. Just because something is making money doesn't mean it is successful in the spiritual realm. 

16. When you write a song, what is the process you go through? 

I usually start with the bass. I try to a come up with a bass line that has a solid rhythm and a good melody. Then I usually record the rhythm guitar track. This adds a little structure to the bass track and lays out how the chords will fit in. Next, I lay the drum track down along with any percussion I intend to use. After this foundation is complete, I experiment with different instruments and melodies until I find something I like. 

17. How did you hear about STAR and how has STAR helped you? 

I heard about STAR from I-dren Bill Laminack. STAR is vital because it serves as an international connecting point for all reggae-loving Christians. We are a small group so it is vital to have a place to meet, organize, and come together in order to forward reggae music from a Christian perspective. 

18. For those who donít know, what is the difference between dub and roots? 

Roots music is reggae in its purest form. Nowadays, you have the dancehall taking over the Jamaican music scene. Back when dancehall first started getting big, artists who were still playing the old style used the term 'roots' to distinguish their traditional style from the new dancehall style. Essentially, dub is when you take a roots tune or reggae song, strip it down to the drum and bass. Then the mixing engineer may add effects like reverb and delay, showcase particular instruments in the mix, and eventually create a new song from the original. 

19. What do you see in the future for yourself? 

I'm not really sure, I will be leaning on Jah's wisdom to guide me. I plan to release another album some time later this year. Like I said before, I would also like to form a band and play some live shows. I would ultimately like to do a tour of the US, Europe, and maybe and the Caribbean within the next few years. I may also try to get into producing if the opportunity arises. 

20. Any plans to team up with other musicians for the next CD? 

There are no concrete plans as of yet but I hope to work with some other musicians at some point. in the near future.