Interview: Attila Image

by Federico Di Puma

We love finding new and impressive artists, and this time we went to Italy for a conversation with the talented Attila, who has recently released his latest work You Neva Know Me. We had the pleasure to talk with him in Benicassim just after his Rototom debut.

JAmusic: A couple of days ago you made your debut in the Dancehall Stage of Rototom Sunsplash, how did it go?

A: For me it was a dream becoming reality to sing here at Rototom, and I felt there was the right energy between me and the crowd so it was great. Beautiful really, I’m very happy about it. 

JAmusic: How did you fall in love with Jamaican music?

A: The first reggae album I listened to was Comu Na Petra by Sud Sound System. It was 1996, I was 10 and my brother made me listen this music for the first time. From there on I started listening reggae music more and more trying to go always deeper. I used to listen lots of mixtape and live audio of dances of sound systems like One Love Hi Powa and from there on the passion became reality when I started buying the first 45s and when with some friends we started our own sound.

JAmusic: Your first artist name as an artist was Pupiddhru and then it became Attila, tell us something about that.

A: Yes, Pupiddhru was a nickname given by some friends, it’s like a little jumping fish.  Then when I started touring a little bit we realized that the promoters couldn’t write Pupiddhru correctly on the posters, and people overall had problem with the spelling of the name, so I was looking for another name and a friend suggested Attila. And it was also part of an important personal change, I know it’s a strong name but if you’ve seen me on stage you know why I use it.

JAmusic: How did the collaboration with your producer Mighty Cez started?

A: Well we had been knowing each other for a while, then one day I was in Venice for a show and some common friends suggested me to go to his studio. So I went there and he told me he had a riddim ready, he already had the choir but not the verses so he asked me if I wanted to work on that. And you know we started working on that and in less than half an hour the tune was ready, and for me it was the first time I worked with a real professional. So the next day I went to his studio again and we recorded Promises and from there on we kept on working together and this year we released the album You Neva Know Me.

JAmusic: Talking about your new album, the opening tune is called Try Dis My Name, who are you talking to in that tune?

A: That tune was dedicated to many people! It happened several times to me that I decided to trust people that later turned their back on me, and I’m not talking only in music, in my personal life too. I believe in friendship, seriously, and so this was a tune to remind people how important friends are.

JAmusic: The first single released from the album was My Story, a song that follows Aidonia’s 80s Dancehall  Style.

A: Yes that Aidonia tune was huge, and I love that kind of raggamuffin style. I had in mind to do a vintage tune like that for a while and then I was hit by his song, and you know in Jamaica is quite common to do over tunes. My Story is about my life in reggae music, and my love for the raggamuffin era of djs like Josey Wales or Super Cat. As I say in the tune, “ragamuffin music mush up my life and I feel so much better”.

JAmusic: In many tunes you talked about the sound system culture, how important is it for you and who are the sounds you listen to?

A: Sound system culture is incredibly important for me. I grew up in that scene, in a scene where you sing on versions in a dancehall and I’m proud to sing about it. For the sounds, internationally I will always say King Addies ,Mighty Crown Stone Love and Killamanjaro, in Italy I-Shence, Northern Lights, General  Palma and of course One Love Hi Pawa, without Lampa Dread and the rest of the crew we probably wouldn’t be here now.

JAmusic: Going back to album, there are three Interludes with you talking and with the music of Dennis Brown and Vybz Kartel, tell us about those choices.

A: That’s simple, it’s my musical journey. It starts from Dennis Brown and it reaches Kartel, who in my opinion is the best lyricist we have had since 2000. The first Interlude comes just before a tune called The Future, that’s an important tune and we felt it needed an introduction; I had just came back from Africa and so I had some special images in my mind and Mighty Cez immediately thought about Dennis Brown’s Country Castle King as something that could give a real sense to what I was going to sing in the following song.

I’ve always loved the idea of having Interludes since Buju’s Inna Heights, where he had the Inter Lingua. I’ve always wanted to do that.

JAmusic: In the tune Lock Up you sing “the good weed neva kill no good man”, what do you think of the various marijuana legalization processes that are happening around the world?

 A: That’s another Kartel inspired tune! Well finally the American experience is showing the world that to ban marijuana is simply stupid. Think about Colorado, they are fixing their public debt thanks to the legalization of cannabis! I’m afraid it would be very difficult to achieve something like that in Italy anytime soon, but if at least we could do an important step towards the development of marijuana for medical use it would be already a huge step.

JAmusic: Is Kartel your main inspiration? Who are the others?

A: Kartel is there of course, I like his flow a lot and you can hear it in many of my songs. Then Terror Faboulous, Super Cat, Nicodemus, Josey  Wales, the whole raggamuffin era has always been important to me. Cham is another artist I’ve listened a lot, but overall I like those artists who are ingenious, they are the ones that push me to do more. For example recently I liked very much Popcaan latest work because he is able to create the right thing. Also, I also listen to a lot of rap and hip hop.

JAmusic: As a young upcoming artist, how is the Italian reggae scene from inside?

A: To me the real problem of the scene nowadays is that it’s very difficult to find versions in the dancehall, so it’s very difficult for a young unknown talent to emerge, and that’s a problem for the artists and for the whole scene. Also, it’s considered extremely important to tour with a band, if you don’t have a band you are not professional enough, but then we don’t get paid much to sing so how can I have a band? So many people simply introduce themselves uploading a video on Youtube, if they get likes or clicks then it means they are good and honestly that’s something I can’t stand. It took 6 years to me to record my first tune. And in those  6 years I’ve learned so much by trying my best in front of the people. Now unfortunately you don’t get to go on stage, on any stage not even the smallest one, unless you are already known, how can the Italian scene put out new talents?

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