In a time where the essential nature of the music industry is shifting evermore, like a Rubik’s cube being fashioned into a more and more complete version of itself, consumers of music are having to refocus their perceptions of it. The radio, which originally represented a hub for curated programming, has now become entirely dependent on advertising thereby warping the intended purpose.
Amid all of this, the role of the DJ, as a stakeholder in music is now resurfacing and calling for a re-examination. In fact, the birth of Dancehall, one of Jamaica’s very celebrated genres of music, occurred due to the very central role of the DJ. One very talented young Marley has expressed an affinity for spinning and sets herself apart as an act to be reckoned with. DJ Shacia Payne has been honing her voice as a curator of some of the very music that she was bred into, a voice that not only millennials but also elder generations can look to for a great musical experience. Never mind that she is the daughter of Stephen Marley, Grammy award winning artist, Shacia Payne is building a legacy of her own, with a craft that she can call her own. Her taste in a variety of music, gives her not only an ear but also inspires her to possibly create her own music. We sit down with Shacia to get the full scoop on her intentions as a young DJ and possibly artiste in the making.
When did you start mixing and or playing out(that’s what we call it here when the selectors go spin at a dance)?
My first gig out was in LA at a club called Los Globos, which I now call my second home.
Everyone has those sort of magic moments when they’re doing what they love and in the heat and beauty of that moment they realize this is what they want to do for the rest of their lives because it makes them happy. What are those like for you, when and where do you get them the most?
I get that feeling most at home and on stage. When I’m home practicing and my siblings are around they always come in the room and vibe with me, wanting to jump on the controller the minute I get off. So that makes me feel good that I can inspire my siblings to want to learn something new. I remember one day my younger brother Jeremiah was playing around on the controller and mixed two different genres that took me by surprise. My inspiration to him inspired me to be more open with my music choices. Another moment was at the club, while spinning this young lady caught my eye, she was in the middle of the dance floor with her eyes closed with the biggest smile, zero worries, dancing so freely, so happy.. That’s when I was like YES ! this is what I want to do, I wanna make people feel like that, feel good inside. You can really get emotionally connected to music. The rest of the night I was playing to her. That moment also made me want to start producing, so it could be my music that makes people feel that way.
When we first catch up with Shacia it’s at a community get together in trench town. I arrive late and the photographer Jik, says he’s already got his essential shots, which is good since we were losing daylight. Still, I arrive just in time for the last golden rays, with this as the backdrop and nineties dancehall blasting from the sound system across the street we pull up to the function. The streets are filled with people, mostly children, either enjoying themselves or just plain going about their business, but as we approach, Jik points out an old truck that’s parked on the left of the street and we walk around to check it out. Sure enough Stephen Marley and Rohan Marley are both cheesing it up with the locals as if they were regular guys, and in some sense they were, their family was from here, they belonged more than I did. We walk up and I am introduced as “the writer”, ever cautious as to that title I find it makes people hostile, yet Steve’s(yes I’ve started to call him that now since we are bros, read on you’ll see) greeting assured me of something else, that things were fine. It wasn’t until I was already looking into his eyes that I realized we were shaking hands, and then I found myself thanking God that I was a man of the land, that I had tilled soil and that I had a firm grip with which to greet this fierce lion who was smiling in recognition. The strangest of all this was being led to the subject of the interview. We found Shacia tucked away in the middle of a field possibly used for friendly football scrimmage, dancing her life away, in the presence of her equally motive audience of young children. It was apparent in that moment as I watched her perform move after move of authentic Jamaican dance, that she would be a leader of the new school.
You equate spinning with the feeling freedom, which is very interesting because freedom is one of those things that’s very fundamental to the human being but yet in the time we live it’s something we often have to fight for. Would you say that choosing to play music is apart of that fight for you and what are some of the thing would you say you are liberating yourself from?
Music is freedom – Dancing is freedom – Singing is freedom. Music is a form of expression. We all know the saying “ when music hits you , you feel no pain.” I go by that saying. When I play music, I go to a place where it’s free from all judgment, where it’s ok for me to move my body. Music frees the soul – Dancing frees the soul – Singing frees the soul. And that’s why I choose to play music, allows us to become connected to our bodies spirit and mind.
We make our way from the football field after I am properly introduced to Shacia and try to find sonic refuge inside the house next to the truck where Stephen and Rohan were standing. The yard is filled with children and people of all ages, but we soon find and empty room. It is here in this humid yet quaint office, amid the blasting sound outside, which Shacia reveals her ambitions and aspirations.
Music isn’t just something we listen to and feel that inspires us, it’s also a literal record, of time, it tells stories. As a stakeholder of music, someone whose job it is to listen to and play music for others, what stories would you say are being told of our time now?
I feel like we’re still telling the same story from 30 years ago. We’re still talking about racism, sexism, every ism. It’s still the same fight people are fighting. If it wasn’t for music most people wouldn’t know what’s going on in the world. Music is more reliable than the news nowadays , music is what brings us all together. So my question is, when will we apply the positive message that we get from music into our lives? We are making history repeat itself, when will history stop repeating itself?
If you were to make music, what would it sound like, hip hop, roots reggae, dancehall, afrobeat or some kind of fusion?
I wanna combine them all! Music is a universal language. Right now I’ve been experimenting a lot of house, afro house, kompa( African and European roots), kora (West African ), flamenco, reggaeton and Soul.
If you were to produce, who are some of the top artists you’d love to collaborate with on a song?
WHEN … I start producing I would love to work with artist like Sheila E , Alicia Keys, Lauryn Hill , Erykah Badu, Zuri Lyric , India Irie , Anderson Paak, Sister Nancy, Sona Jabareth (West African singer), Anoushka Shankar Swizz Beatz, Kid Cudi, Buju B, Busy Signal, Rihanna, Sizzla, Foxy Brown, Spragga .. the list can go on!
You are beginning to make a name for yourself as the DJ Shacia Payne, what are some of the venues you see yourself playing in a couple years, or what are some of the shows you aim to be apart of(both here and abroad)?
I would love to travel and spread my vibe to places like Africa, Japan, Europe, Dubai, Brazil, Ibiza, Australia. Worldwide ting! Would definitely love to headline my own tour in the next 2 years. Sumfest, Shaggy and Friends would love to be apart of that line up
The promise in this young DJ is strong, but as with most stories in the beginning there isn’t too much to say yet, we just have to keep and eye, or ear out.
DJ Shacia Payne coming to a venue near you, or catch her on demand online;
Photos by Jik Reuben