“Music is a feel to me. Let they be the one to categorise me, I don’t categorise myself”
Living Legend. Veteran. Hit Maker. These are just some of the titles that come to mind when I think of Wayne Wonder. As one of Penthouse’s first artists, before artists such as Marcia Griffiths, Tony Rebel and Buju Banton, it is no surprise that the talent Wayne Wonder possesses has afforded him such a long career. In an industry that is extremely fickle with its likes and dislikes, sometimes an artist and their team have to put in many sleepless nights and make a substantial investment before they can begin to see the fruits of their labour.
With hits in his catalogue such as “No Letting Go”, “Joy Ride” and “Caught Up” to name a few, when the opportunity to sit down with the man behind the music to find out what has kept his career going strong since the late ‘80s– I just had to take it! Read further to learn more about the music career of Wayne Wonder…
15 THINGS WE LEARNED ABOUT WAYNE WONDER
Terri K: First I want to start off by saying, thank you for setting aside this time within your schedule to sit down with me for COCO Magazine. Wayne Wonder, you are referred to as a Jamaican reggae fusion artiste. Do you agree with this description of your music?
Wayne Wonder: Not really because music has no boundaries, ya know? Sometimes people say that music is crossover. That just means no matter the kind of genre of music it is, it is going to reach out. It doesn’t make it a Pop song, ya know?
Terri K: The first producer you recorded with was the late King Tubby. What was it like creating music with such a musical visionary at the time?
Wayne Wonder: For me, now looking back I say, “Wow! That was a great opportunity.” Just to be around a legend getting tips and pointers from him, ya know? Working with King Tubby, that was my gateway into the music business.
Terri K: You’ve written many songs for Buju Banton, including his controversial hit, “Boom Bye Bye”. What was the inspiration for that song?
WW: In Jamaica, it is a total different culture, nah mean? The history behind that, basically, was we were at a particular school, a boys’ school and a girl was telling us, ya know, they caught two boys in the bathroom. It was just a conversation, nah mean? And it spurred “Boom Bye Bye” from there. At that moment when we heard the story, ya know, we said, “Yo, that’s weird star,” [laughs]. It’s not like we were sending people to kill gays or nothing like that, nah mean?
Terri K: The Madhouse produced, “Joy Ride” single with Baby Cham is still getting spins in the dancehalls by many different DJs. What was the production process like for that song? Did you and Cham record the entire song in the same studio session together?
Wayne Wonder: Ya’mon! We recorded it together. We vibed the song together. We were actually in a vehicle heading to Portland, Jamaica; heading to the country and we were vibing to the track. We had some girls parring with us. It was just a natural vibe. We were cruising in a Jeep load of hunnies. Actually, we went on a ‘joy ride’ for real [laughs].
“Music is a natural vibe, ya know? That’s how I make music [naturally].”
Terri K: You originally recorded “Saddest Day” with Dave Kelly of Penthouse Records. Then you later re-recorded it with Foxy Brown for her 2001 release, Broken Silence. What was that like for you, finding out that your single had been selected as a feature on that project? Did you ever think that an opportunity like that would come for you?
Wayne Wonder: They always say music travels, so ya know, when ya making music you just hope that the fans love it and someone pick it up who is very important, ya know. It was a good situation and it just happened. Foxy Brown reached out to us and we went back into the studio. It was just a musical vibe, a part of the journey.
Terri K: You’ve released 13 albums, since you’ve been in this music business. No Holding Back made it onto US Reggae, Billboard 200 and R&B/Hip Hop charts. What was it about that album that you think lent it onto those charts?
Wayne Wonder: I guess ya know, timing. I’m not Nostradamus but I say I think timing is everything. I’ve been doing this for years, ya know. Long before “Not Letting Go” but timing is everything. I didn’t give up, ya know [laughs]. So my philosophy is just keep grinding; keep making good music and ya know, in time good music will reach ‘round. As an established artists and doing it for so long, I more look at catalogue. Just keep recording, keep building ya catalogue. This is like a deposit. Just keep depositing, keep depositing cause someday ya can make a big withdrawal [laughs].
Terri K: “No Letting Go” was your first #1 hit record. DJs are still playing that record in parties today. What was the inspiration for that song? Was there a special lady in your life at the time that that song was dedicated to?
Wayne Wonder: It’s an idea and it’s someone special because it’s all about love. Ya know, at the time I had someone special in my life also. I was actually in the basement in New York and I got the track from Lanky. I was writing and as I said music just happen, it just came that way to me. It is definitely something persona, something close to me.
“Making the music for me is the easiest thing.”
Terri K: You are no doubt a hit maker, how does it feel to hear your earlier songs played in Dances around the world and the impact they still have on the people?
Wayne Wonder: Well that’s a good sign. That’s some of the ingredients that inspire me to continue doing what I am doing because I can still take out a Bob Marley record and listen to it. I can still pick up a Beres Hammond, ya know. It’s good quality. I believe in making good quality music and music with meaning. I don’t like to sing about fashion and fad, ya know, because that’s hot. I like to sing about real tings. Love. Love is forever. Love is everlasting. You never lose off love, nah mean? If a person is 10 now and you sing about love or break up and make up, or peace and love, or ya know do good to others. You can still relate to that 20 years after because it’s just real. It’s the truth, nah mean?
Terri K: Your most recent project was the “My Way” album, released in December 2012. What was your inspiration?
Wayne Wonder: I was with VP and I didn’t really like the situation I was into. It took me a little time to get through all the legal stuff, nah mean? So I didn’t want to drop anything then the record company try to play me. So I had to figure a way out of that situation. When I finally got the change to get out fully then I started putting out stuff.
Terri K: My Way’s lead single, “Caught Up” – some folks can relate to the situation in that song, how did it come about?
Wayne Wonder: My music is my diary. Since I started writing fully, like ’92, I said I wasn’t gonna cover no more songs. All my songs are like my diary, so anything that you hear that I’ve written; it’s true [laugh] put it that way.
Terri K: So it is safe to assume that experience, although you may not have been in personally but you know it is out there. So that was something to bring to the forefront.
Wayne Wonder: Ya’mon. So caught up in this love triangle, like ya know, what should I do? Make up your mind. Ya know, coochie coochie coochie, can’t make up my mind. Eenie meenie miney moe my love is on the line [laughs].
Terri K: Do you have any favourite songs off the album?
Wayne Wonder: Well ya know I like the song with Shaggy and I, “Don’t Tell Me No”. There are a couple songs on it, “It’s All About You”. Ya know, if you listen to the album there is a different variety. There’s slow tempered, there’s dancehall vibe, ya know? There’s lovers rock. That’s me, that’s my identity. That’s how I’ve been doing it ever since. If you check back my record I make nice slow songs, ya know. Up-tempo beat songs, ya know; dancehall hard core. I can slow it down one-drop style, live reggae music style, ya know. It’s just my way! [laughs] It’s just like a glass of fruit punch. I get up this morning and I put in orange and pineapple. Tomorrow I might put in papaya, strawberries [laughs] nah mean? It all depends on the feeling, the vibe.
Terri K: Your latest music video released in October 2013 for “Reset It”, what was the inspiration for the concept of the video? How much did the lyrics of the song influence the treatment for the video? Where was the video shot?
Wayne Wonder: It’s a combination of things. In the dancehall right now most of the topics is just wine and wine and wine. One artist have five songs with ‘wine’ in it or something to with the ‘wine’ topic. I was just saying [in this song] to just reset it back to how it was, ya know, when we used to love. I remember back in the days when you go to the parties, you see a girl and you approach her, “Can I have this dance?” You don’t see that stuff no more. I didn’t want to go champagne or party. I just go nature, nah mean? [laughs] The video was shot in Portland, Jamaica.
Terri K: You have been in the music business for well over two decades. What do you think has been the greatest impact on your career that has contributed to your longevity?
Wayne Wonder: When I first recorded with [King] Tubby, he said just put in the work. Just focus on putting in the work, record, record, record, as much as you can. I never let go of that philosophy. I have a home studio, so ya know, once you have a studio you’re going to be doing work, nah mean? I’m the type of artist that, even in my hotel room, I have my portable studio, nah mean? My MacBook Pro, M-Box, Microphone, nah mean? I don’t wait! I had an experience where I waited on the engineer for hours [laughs] so I realized if I could do it, time is the master. I look at myself like Pepsi and Coca Cola. They are always out there but they never get old.
Terri K: We define a COCO Woman as a woman who embraces herself, her unique beauty and is not afraid to show the world her true self. Does you have a COCO woman or women in your life?
Wayne Wonder: [laughs] She’s perfect. Someone who is true to herself, who just reach for the stars, ya know? Reach for the stars, if you land you’ll drop on the moon. [laughs]
Having performed last year on 106 & Park during their Labour Day episode, Wayne Wonder continues to spread his music with all will listen and who appreciate good music. It is apparent that his musical philosophy has been one of the best to incorporate to ensure longevity within the business. In a business that is fickle; one day it loves you, the next you are old news. Wayne Wonder has stayed true to making good music that focused on building a catalogue for years to come, not just what will receive hype today. Here at COCO Magazine, we wish Wayne Wonder much success in 2014 and beyond! Be sure to connect with him via the following social media links.