Roots reggae and singer songwriter Horace Andy is, without question, one of the soundsystem greats. Recognised instantly by his unique, distinctive vocal style, his single Skylarking is an out-and-out reggae classic the world over.
His longstanding collaborations with Massive Attack – contributing to all five studio albums over almost two decades – means that Horace Andy is also no stranger to the Bristol music scene.
Nitelife managed to have a quick chat with the influential Jamaican reggae singer ahead of his first Bristol headline performance in five years at The Fleece this August, with support from Bristol reggae treasures Laid Blak.
His longstanding collaborations with Massive Attack – contributing to all five studio albums over almost two decades – means that Horace Andy is no stranger to the Bristol music scene
‘I’m excited to come back to Bristol to headline. I just want to play good music and for people to be able to enjoy themselves.
‘I think I’m going to play some new music, but to be honest I’m not too sure yet. The main thing is there will definitely be good vibes.’
Horace Andy began making music in the early seventies with his friends, before he realised his voice stood out from the rest. It was only when he began recording his first material at Jamaica’s iconic Studio One in the early seventies, that he realised he was onto something.
‘I think my friends discovered my voice first, because every time I’d sing they’d say, “Boy, why do you sing so good?” At the time I thought, “What are they talking about?” But after we started practicing, there was one time when I was singing in the bathroom, so I could really hear myself – that’s when I realised I had a good voice.
there was one time when I was singing in the bathroom, so I could really hear myself – that’s when I realised I had a good voice
‘Honestly, it all just started out as a bit of fun. We used to do lots of singing contests, but after a while everyone was saying, “Why don’t you be a singer?” When I went to record my first song, I didn’t really know that it was going to end up like this. I wasn’t a singer at the time, but after practicing and practicing, I went to Studio One in 1970 and that’s when I started to think yes, I can do this and actually think about making music a career.’
Nearly fifty years on, Horace Andy looks at the younger generation’s interpretation of reggae music and shares his opinion on some of the newer reggae sounds.
‘I like listening to the younger musicians like Chronixx. There is definitely some good music out there, but for some of the artists, some of the lyrics I don’t really go for. Don’t get me wrong, I think their music is wicked and their ideas are brilliant, but they might not be that respectful to women. I always listen to the youth’s music, but some of the lyrics are just too disrespectful to women. It’s a different generation thing. I don’t think it’s down to freedom of speech or anything, I just don’t think they know what they are talking about.
I always listen to the youth’s music, but some of the lyrics are just too disrespectful to women
‘It’s really disrespectful, but some of them don’t even care that they’re doing it. They just do it to make money and now everybody is jumping on the band wagon. But I’m not bringing them down, like I said, it’s a different generation thing. If I were their age, maybe I’d be doing the same thing. Just know that when they are with their friends, they do their thing, but as soon as they get home I guarantee they act all innocent!’
Although boasting an extensive solo career, in terms of mainstream success, Horace Andy is best known for his work with Massive Attack, featuring and even part-writing some of their best known tracks, including Angel. Horace Andy explains how their collaborative relationship first came about and how they are still working together today.
I respect 3D (Robert) one million percent because he let me sing in a way I never thought I could
‘It was just really brilliant, you know. I respect 3D (Robert) one million percent because he let me sing in a way I never thought I could. I was born singing reggae music. The one person I’d really like to thank is Dick Jewell, I haven’t seen him in years, but he was the one who said his friend has a group and they were looking for a singer. If it wasn’t for Dick introducing me, I would never have collaborated with Massive Attack.
‘The first time I ever came to Bristol to record with Massive Attack, it was a really good experience. All the guys were there and it was brilliant – all really original people. 3D is the one that keeps it going though. Daddy G goes off and does his own thing, but 3D is the one who sits in the studio and does all the recording. If it wasn’t for 3D, Massive Attack would not be around today.
I have my own project coming up, but I am still working with Massive Attack. I’ve done about six songs for their new album
‘I have my own project coming up, but I am still working with Massive Attack. I’ve done about six songs for their new album, which 3D has been working on for the past five years or so.’
As we wrap up our chat with Horace Andy, we can’t let him go without hearing his thoughts on Goldie’s apparent revelation/slip up on Scroobius Pip’s Distraction Pieces Podcast this June, which seemed to strongly indicate that long-time suspect Robert Del Naja (3D) is in fact Bristol street artist Banksy. Unfortunately, our reception seems to break up at that moment, before Horace tells us he ‘hasn’t heard of’ Banksy.