[INTERVIEW] MAXI PRIEST - Viper
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[INTERVIEW] MAXI PRIEST

About three weeks ago I was lucky enough to interview english reggae artist Maxi Priest.  He has worked with UB40, Shaggy, Shabba Ranks, and many more. He was a founder member of Saxon Studio. His cover of Cat Stevens’ Wild World put him on the map, but most notably he became one of only two British reggae acts to have an American Billboard number one with his song Close to You. Today, he released his album It All Comes Back To Love produced by Shaggy. Read what Maxi and I talked about below and be sure to stream the new album.

Calvin:
What can you tell me about Saxon Studio?

Maxi:
Oh my God, such a sound system, yeah.
I had some great times. They were awesome times for me, being around the sound system, being a sound man, building speaker boxes. Performing live on the set was my training ground.

We all went to school together and we just kind of grew into it. It wasn’t a date of start or date of finish. It was just something that merged and especially for growing up in England, it was just a situation that brought a camaraderie with those who had such a love and a desire to want to be a part of music.

Calvin:
How do you think growing up and living in Britain has shaped your music, with both the culture and influences from out there, and just the overall vibe?

Maxi:
It has shaped me in many different ways as a person. We went through a lot of bullshit racism. It was a massive struggle with that, going to school and just every day life. If you look at that tight bond, or that tight camaraderie with the power of music, especially with the power of Reggae music coming out of Jamaica. And also the struggle through R&B that was coming out of America.  England was a massive melting pot for music in general, you know? It was a great time, especially with the music. Everything was beginning. Everything was starting. It was a time of creativity in everything. As a person living in that time, as a young kid growing up in that time, everything was just a new time.

Calvin:

It’s been a while since you released your last album, Easy to Love. What do you think has changed since then? Within yourself, or within the world, and things you’ve been doing.

Maxi:
The music business has changed since then, I think, and continues to change as we speak. Even though you saw it moving, but unless you’re actually in it, doing it, your perception of it can be very different. And that’s taken a little time to wrap my head around it, but I guess I feel like a little kid again in a chocolate factory, just trying to understand everything. It’s a bit overwhelming, but at the same time I’m excited to understand it because it also brings back a lot of the previous stuff that I did, the older stuff. Where is this fitting right now? Where does it fit in this computer, in this internet world? Am I in the right places? Am I getting my results? Am I getting what I’m supposed to be getting? Stuff like that. So it’s just opened up a whole nother book. How I changed? I try to think that I’m just evolving and maturing.

Calvin:
Very well said. What can we expect from this upcoming project, and How does this project come to be?

Maxi:
Fun, laughter, smiles, Happiness. How it came about was basically we’ve done quite a lot of work together over the years. Writing songs and working together on stages and stuff like that. He went to a function and met Steve Greenberg, head of BMG. And somehow or another, my name was mentioned. He offered to play him some stuff that we have at the studio. He came down to the studio and, according to what I heard, he was excited about what he heard and asked if we’d be interested in making an album. I guess the old cliche is, and the rest is history.

Calvin:
Where do you think that reggae music is going now?

Maxi:
I would say the only way is up, because I know where it came from. So I’m pushing to get it to where we would like it to be. I think it’s moving forward. It’s a new time, there’s new generations. So many new aspects of the entertainment and the music world that it’s going to come with good and it’s going to come with bad. And eventually the good will overcome the bad and it will find its place, you know? The pop world has so much of reggae dance hall influence in it. And I truly hope that we can somewhat grasp a little bit more of that as well, because it’s being used, you know?

Calvin S:
Is there anything that you want the world to know about Maxi Priest that we don’t know already?

Maxi:
I don’t know. I’m just God-fearing person who just loves humanity and loves the world. I don’t know what more there is to know about me.

Calvin:
Who would you say your biggest influences are right now in your current music?

Maxi:
Right now I’m going to tell you that the young lady Koffee has inspired me a lot. I like the chronic stuff. There’s so much stuff that I like that’s in the charts today. Rihanna’s in there for me. It goes right across the board. Drake.

Calvin:
Do you see yourself collaborating with UB40 again?

Maxi:
I don’t see why not. My doors are open to everybody and anybody. I love all genres of music. I’d love to do something with Snoop Dogg. I’d love to do something with Dre. I’d love to do something with an opera.

Calvin:
Amazing. How does it feel to be one of the two British reggae artists to have a billboard number one song? No small feat. 

Maxi:
I feel fantastic, but I need another one. I really thank everybody for the support over the years for my music, and without you guys there is no us. And I sincerely mean that, and I appreciate it.

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