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Sebastian Sturm – from punk rock to roots reggae

0 17-07-2012 18:32

Visiting Poland for the first time ever at Reggae na Piaskach 2012- Sebastian Sturm with his band The Exile Airline proved to be the bright shining star of roots reggae. We asked him a few questions before the show.

Tegoslucham.pl: Today, we're with Sebastian Sturm at Reggae na Piaskach 2012. It's great to have you here. How are you?

Sebastian Sturm: I'm fine! Thank you, man.

Tegoslucham.pl: Today, in the age of sub-genres like raggamuffin, dancehall and more modern-sounding reggae being at the peak of popularity, you seem to go in a quite different direction, creating a more 60's, 70's-like, oldschool-feeling sound. Why is that?

Sebastian Sturm: You know, I'm still inspired by the music of the 70's. Totally! But what you mean is that, dancehall is at the top right now, yeah? It's the same in Germany. But it's a development. I think that, over the years, roots reggae music will stay anyhow. Maybe it will be down for a bit, but it will come up again. For me, the 70's were, I'm quite sure, the golden age of reggae music. That's where all my inspirations come from.

Sebastian Sturm at Reggae na Piaskach 2012 fot. Maken

Tegoslucham.pl: And who are the artists that were the most influential to your style?

Sebastian Sturm - OK, of course I have to say Bob Marley. I think that his music changed my life, like so many others'. After that I discovered Burning Spear, Steel Pulse, Gladiators. All the 70's reggae heroes are also mine. (laughs)

Tegoslucham.pl: Are there also any modern artists that inspire you?

Sebastian Sturm: Yeah, there's a lot of them! For sure, it's Groundation. We were touring with them a few times through France, and they really showed us how to break out of roots reggae and bring some jazz, or any musical elements from other genres into the mix without destroying the classic roots vibe. Since then, we've tried to follow that way - on my latest album "Get Up and Get Going" - and experiment a bit, but it is very important for me to maintain the vibe.

Tegoslucham.pl: It still has that oldschool feel

Sebastian Sturm: Sure, it has to sound... ya know, "handmade", and playful. I like to play with this band right now - The Exile Airline. We've got one favorite album of Bob Marley: "Talkin' Blues", where his style was more funky, and we try to bring that to our music too.

Tegoslucham.pl: Are you surprised by the popularity of roots in modern times?

Sebastian Sturm - Yeah, sure. Quite a lot of people love roots reggae music, maybe they're avoiding the dancehall sound. I think those are two different kinds of music, so for me it is certain that the massive split. And you then have the people who like the development of reggae anyhow. You know, me too! I discovered some cool dancehall tunes that sometimes I listen to, but for me it's difficult to put it into my music.

Tegoslucham.pl: What were your first musical steps?

Sebastian Sturm: I started with punk music.

Tegoslucham.pl: Punk? That's interesting, most of the legendary Polish reggae bands originated from punk rock.

Sebastian Sturm: Alright! I think it's nothing new. You got The Clash, who tried some experiments with Lee Perry in the past. Punk rock is rebel music as well, so for me it wasn't a huge step. It was the natural way to discover music.

Tegoslucham.pl: Have you played in any punk rock band?

Sebastian Sturm: (laughs) Yeah! I was playing bass, and screaming the backing vocals. I got into a few bands, when I was 16, 17. When I was 19 I had an opportunity to sing some Bob Marley tunes, and I started making reggae music without really knowing where it would go. I was merely scraping the surface back then.

Tegoslucham.pl: And how did you find reggae music in your life?

Sebastian Sturm: My brother gave me some old Bob Marley stuff. I think there was one song, that really convinced me - "Simmer Down" - the old ska tune. After that, I discovered that reggae has something punky inside of it. The young Bob Marley sounds different. So it wasn't "Redemption Song", or "No Woman No Cry". I already knew those songs, but they didn't move me then.

Tegoslucham.pl: Your songs can be divided into the more positive, optimistic ones, and the other which sound very sad. Why is that?

Sebastian Sturm:
This is something that is very fun for me - writing sad lyrics, and putting them on a positive riddim. Anyhow, reggae is still positive, but it can become a little bit melancholic. I like songs with a sad background mixed up with a happy melody, even from Marley. I find that interesting.

Tegoslucham.pl: Is there any universal message you want to share with the youth through your songs?

Sebastian Sturm: I get along with that peace, unity and love message, because it's international and universal.

Tegoslucham.pl: Usually, reggae musicians sing in their songs very directly about God, and you seem to not touch this subject very often. Why is that?

Sebastian Sturm: You're right. (laughs) It's because I'm a believer, but it's more the question of where I really belong, and to which god I should pray for my life. There's something higher, that I believe in, but I'm aware as not to name it. I don't come from a family that is strictly catholic, so I'm still searching.

Sebastian Sturm at Reggae na Piaskach 2012 fot. Maken
Tegoslucham.pl: Is it you first time in Poland? How do you feel here?

Sebastian Sturm: Yes, it's my first time. I like it. Very nice vibe. I'm a little bit tired from the trip, but I think it's going to be nice. The people I already met gave us a warm welcome. I have a very good first impression!

Tegoslucham.pl: Would you like to say something for our readers?

Sebastian Sturm: Because it's the very first time for me here in Poland, I really don't know if anybody knows my music. You know it, but I really wonder about that.

Tegoslucham.pl: I can assure you that many people in Poland who like reggae music listen to you as well.

Sebastian Sturm: OK! That's great to hear!

Tegoslucham.pl: But it's a pity that we can't buy your records at a music store here.

Sebastian Sturm: We're still working on making business here in Poland. We played a lot in Germany to get to this point, from the status of an underground band. Now, my name is known there after 7 years of playing, but anyways Sebastian Sturm doesn't sound very reggae. For me, it's a big surprise to come here, and see that there are people who know my music. That makes me really happy. So if you don't know, check out Sebastian Sturm and my latest album - "Get Up and Get Going". I hope we will see you next time on other festivals here in Poland. It would be very nice!

Tegoslucham.pl: Looking forward to! Thank you for the interview.

Sebastian Sturm: Thank you very much!


Polish version

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