NiceUp talks to Kris Kemist, founder of Reality Shock Records, UK.

What is your own musical background?

I grew up in a musical family still and started playing guitar from young. I caught the reggae bug as a teenager and started collecting records and selecting on a local sound. Eventually started producing when I was about 17. I later went to college and studied music production.

Can you tell us a bit about how you started Reality Shock – what gave you the inspiration to launch the label and when and how did you launch it?

It came about naturally really.  I was making riddims and started working with local artists and friends like Deadly Hunta, Mikey Murka, Prince Livijah and Aqua Livi.  Later Afrikan Simba and Errol Bellot came on board.

So there was a strong family of artists together and a solid foundation for a label. It can be a struggle for reggae artists in the UK still, so the idea was to move as a unit in order to support each other and make progress.

The first record was eventually released in 2005 and things have moved really fast since then. It’s really good to see the artists touring regularly now and starting to get the recognition they deserve.

As well as the record label, we now also operate as a booking agency, studio and dubplate service and we have a resident live band who the artists regularly rehearse with called the Upper Cut Band.

What is the philosophy behind Reality Shock?

Reality Shock is out to entertain, educate, inspire and to spread the reggae vibes worldwide.  Expect music with substance and lyrics with a serious message.

So you’re based in Reading.  Can you tell us about about the reggae scene there, because it has quite a strong history, doesn’t it?

Yes I’d say so…reggae used to be big in England in general and there was a lot going on in Reading back in the 80s and 90s. Reading has a big Caribbean community and there used to be a club (which has since been shut down by the council) where just about every artist and sound from UK to Jamaica performed at. So yeah, theres a lot of people in Reading who grew up around reggae music and a lot of talented artists and musicians about the place.

Who are some of the key Reality Shock artists you have worked with and are working with?

In the beginning we were working mostly with Mikey Murka, Deadly Hunta and Prince Livijah.  Then Errol Bellot, Afrikan Simba, Aqua Livi, Marga, Chieftain Joseph and Valorous.   We’ve also worked with Dixie Peach, Macka B, Earl 16 and Errol Dunkley.

A few years ago Solo Banton exploded on to the scene and he has definitely became a key artist for Reality Shock. We’re hoping to do something with YT soon – he’s another big artist to watch out for in 2011.

We released a compilation album a few years ago called Reality Shock Volume 1 featuring all the artists working here at the time, which is a good introduction to Reality Shock for anyone who may be interested. Hoping to start work on volume two soon.

How do you feel the UK roots scene is progressing?  There’s a common idea that the roots scene is stronger in Europe right now, what do you think about this?

Yeah I think that is definitely true – there’s sadly very little support for reggae music in the UK these days and nothing in the mainstream media despite the many great artists and musicians here. Europe has a bit more going on and has a lot of respect for UK reggae, so most of the artists and sounds left in England survive by doing shows in Europe.

Who are the people making reggae music that you are personally really feeling at the moment?

There’s too many to mention! I guess I’m biased cos everyone I’m thinking of are friends abd extended Reality Shock family really and I don’t really listen to much else these days. But there’s so many people all over the place making great music…I don’t know where to start!

The Reality Shock label has a good rep in New Zealand.  Do you have any connections to this part of the world and do you know much about the NZ/Pacific scene?

It’s nice to hear that people are in tune to Reality Shock down there, we hope to make more links in that part of the world and would love to visit one day.

So far Deadly Hunta is the only Reality Shock artist to reach New Zealand and he did some great works there with Reality Chant. I’m really feeling their production and recently linked with Gabriel so watch out for a Reality Shock/Reality Chant collaboration coming soon.

Do you have any key tips or advice for aspiring reggae producers out there?

Just to keep up the good work and do it for the love…if you wanna make money then better you make some other music, ha!  But yeah, hard work is the only way forward.  It’s all about making links and getting your music heard. These days the internet can be a powerful tool for any aspiring artist or producer.

What does Reality Shock have in the pipe-line for 2011?

2011 is set to be a busy year for releases – coming in the next few weeks is a 10″ featuring Errol Dunkley, Errol Bellot & Solo Banton. Then in February, a we’re releasing a Solo Banton 7″ featuring Walk Like Rasta and the sequel track Rastafari Teachings on the flip side.

Also coming in the next few months is a riddim album called Free The World in collaboration with House of Hits (JA), featuring Jah Mason, Jr Kelly, Lutan Fyah, Jah Mali, Tony Curtis and many more. Later in the year Errol Bellot’s debut album Know Jah is due out too, which has been in the works for a few years now.

Lots more to be announced soon, stay tuned to www.realityshock.com

Any last words for the massive?

Give thanks for your support! Big respect to NiceUp, Reality Chant and all the New Zealand reggae massive…keep reggae music alive! One blessed love.

More info:
Reality Shock Records

Venus Hi Fi