Ras Stone

NiceUp talks to Ras Stone – the Ghanaian vocalist helping roots reggae to rise up in Aotearoa.

Please introduce yourself Ras!  What lead you onto a musical path?

>Greetings NiceUp, I am Ras Stone, the Ghanaian who reached Aotearoa via London! Thank you for inviting me to do this interview, keep up the good work!

I have always been interested in music and was surrounded by music from an early age. From memory I remember hearing all sorts of music blaring from houses early in the morning around Nima, Ghana, where we used to live. I used to get my mum to line up her cooking pots for me to use as drums or anything that sounded musical to me as we couldn’t afford instruments.

This then lead onto singing a likkle bit in the church choir which came to an end when I started boarding school. Though I still messed around in the musical field trying to sing songs from Alpha Blondy, I-Jahman Levi, Don Carlos and the likes to college mates and seniors, I found myself leaning more and more towards sports and dancing. Though I still enjoyed singing now and then with my mates but it wasn’t to be fully until I came to Aotearoa!

You’ve had a long history now in the NZ reggae scene.  Can you tell us a bit about the crews/bands you’ve collaborated with in this time?

I have done stuff with a variety of groups and people including having a go at forming the IRootz band – though it’s disbanded for now it’ll be resurfacing soon!  I’ve also worked with the likes of Rhombus, The Nomad, Safari, Rhythm African Band, The Mighty Asterix alongside the Yardwise crew, Ruffneck Souljah, Selecta Art, Topknot, Tuffy Culture, Lemon, Dubhead, Audio Mechanics, Antsman, Sole, Range, Ras Twig and last but not least the mighty Selecta Manray with Vital Sounds Hi-Fi where it all started for me in Aotearoa! Big up Manray!

How have you seen the scene develop over the years?

To be honest there have been times when I have seen the reggae scene rise-up but there has never been a big momentum to take it where it needs to be and it has still remained underground. Though there are a few reggae bands in Aotearoa who seem to have a good following it doesn’t seem to last long.

So you’re usually based in Wellington but are in Auckland for a bit at the moment. How is it going up there?  Any thoughts about differences/similarities in the Auckland scene compared to Welly?

Auckland is not bad, I just want my son’s leukemia treatment to be over with and then come back to Wellington. In saying that I have met up and coming reggae artists from Auckland and Whanganui who are in the same situation that are looking for other musicians to link up with. I haven’t really been out much up here but I think there is more following when it comes to gigs due to the population.

What projects are you working on at the moment?

I am currently trying to go through all my old tracks that I have done in the past but haven’t released and see what I can come out with. Also thanks to Selecta Art for introducing me to Willi the Kid aka Iron Will in Auckland, who in my opinion is the youngest and wickedest reggae producer I have ever met in Aotearoa. Will is helping to redo some of my old tracks and work on some new ones while am up here.

Are there any vocalists that you look to for inspiration in your own works?

Ooooh yes, I love the rooticals and fire brands but to mention a few I’ll start with Anthony B, Burning Spear, Pressure, Junior Reid, Bushman, Morgan Heritage, Lutan Fyah, Capleton, Turbulence, Luciano, Don Carlos, Macka B, Dennis Brown, Eek a Mouse, Midnite, Kiddus I, Tony Rebel, Richie Spice, Chuck Fenda, Sizzla and many many more.

What are your thoughts on NZ reggae vocalist talent at the moment?  Anyone in particular you’re linking up with?

To be honest Aotearoa has got a whole different style of reggae in comparison to what am used to but I recently listened to the group Three Houses Down, and I think they are sounding a bit more like the reggae I know. Linking Up?  I’ve met one very talented brother called Toby with the group Roots Provider from Whanganui whose daughter is receiving the same treatment as my son and we’ve been having a few jams so that might be the resurfacing of IRootz when he moves to Wellington in a few months!

Any words for the massive?

Please keep supporting roots reggae music in Aotearoa to help rise up, without you we will still be underground.

Also keep an eye out for IROAR CREATIONS – my soon to be launched clothing label of African, roots reggae influenced street gear. Boom Shack Fire!

And big up to all who keep the fire burning!

Venus Hi Fi