Elephant Wise
Kenyan-born, Australian-based artist, Elephant Wise, talks to NiceUp about his debut album, The Reasoning and reggae works happening across the Tasman.

Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you got into reggae?

Well I’m a fifth generation coolie from Kenya and my mother is Swedish. In Kenya reggae music is a part of day-to-day life so it was just something that was around me from day one.

Later on in my teens I moved to Europe where I saw reggae music go from a small movement to absolutely exploding with tons of reggae sound-systems and festivals popping up everywhere.

It was around that time I started getting into the whole sound-system culture but it wasn’t until later on after moving to Australia in 2005 that I started working the mic and eventually becoming a reggae artist.

So you’re currently based in Brisbane. What’s the scene like over there and in Australia in general?

In Brisbane the scene isn’t too big and the whole of Australia has a lot of catching up to do with the rest of the world. Having said that there are still a few sound systems like Rhythm Collision Sound and Champion Sound alongside a handful of good bands and artists that are keeping the fire blazing and slowly but surely paving the way.

You recently released your debut album, The Reasoning. What motivated you to release this?

Yes, the album was dropped July 18th and so far there has been nothing but good feedback! So I am very happy with that. I was inspired to make the album and I get from my creativity from the need to express the most high and everything else I see going on around me, life basically.

When I started off working the mic on different sound-system nights I was recording a bit of stuff but there was no real direction. It wasn’t until I had one of those life changing experiences about two years ago when visiting family in Africa. I was traveling on a local bus from Mombasa to Daar-e-Salaam.  Shortly after crossing the Tanzanian border the bus was ambushed and a mob of thugs opened gun fire on the bus and the whole situation turned a bit nasty.

Eventually they made their way onto the bus, robbed everyone and finally left. I only suffered minor injuries but one women was shot in the back.  This was a wake up call for me ‘cos at one point there it wasn’t looking too good for me…but like I say in my song Belly a di Beast, ‘I’m like Daniel in di Lions den’. I truly felt like I was being protected by a higher power.

This incident made me reevaluate my life and from then on I decided to take this music thing seriously and run with it! That’s when I started working on The Reasoning.

What can listeners expect and how can people get a copy?

Action pack! It’s a pure fire-blazing action pack of authentic modern roots and dancehall reggae. You can get a copy of the album on iTunes and other various online record stores. A 192kbps mp3 version of the album is also available for free download at the Elephant Wise MySpace and the Das Vibes website.

You’ve collaborated with Reality Chant Productions and High Stakes Records – how did this come about?  What have you worked on together so far?

Yes, I have to give a big thanks to Messenjah out of Reality Chant Productions and Tiop from High Stakes for reaching out and giving me an opportunity to collaborate at a time when a lot of other producers were not showing much interest at all. There is a lot of NZ love on The Reasoning and many times I have got better feedback, more interest and built more links with NZ crew then Australian.

What other artists have you worked with internationally?

My album features four guest appearances – LNX Dread and Elijah are two local artists that feature on a song called Cool Down; another artist, Amsie Brown out of Sweden features on a song called Oman dedicated to my empress.

On another song that has received a lot of good feedback and radio air play I collaborate with one of my most favorite artists at the moment, Deadly Hunta (UK).  The song is titled Highest Grade and it is a big ganja tune! I’m really happy to have worked with Deadly Hunta on my album, I rate him big time as an artist and a performer – watch out this youth is gonna go far!

What are your plans for the rest of ’09?  Any plans to come to NZ?

For the rest of ’09 we still keep pushing – I have given the studio work a bit of a rest and I am currently working hard on putting together a live show teaming up with a bredrin of mine, Scorcha.  We are looking to hit the performing circuit starting with opening for Anthony-B here in Brisbane on the 10th of August.

I would love to come to NZ but there are a lot of things that have to come together before this can happen but I am hoping soon.

Any words for the massive?

Yes, big up NZ massive every time. Stand firm inna Babylon, more vibes more prosperity more I-nity, less attitude! Go to the Elephant Wise MySpace and check out my album! Blessed.

More info:
Elephant Wise myspace
Das Vibes Records

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