Reggae music may not automatically come to mind when one thinks of Switzerland.
But the musician known as Jaba, who lives in the French speaking area of the country, has been making Jamaican inspired sounds for over two decades.
Jaba frontlined reggae band Moonraisers until 2011. After a three-year hiatus, he formed Jaba & Friends. The music project is based on a solid reggae foundation, but introduces other elements such as an Australian didgeridoo.
“I listened to Bob (Marley) from the age of 10 to 16, I have played steel drum, I have been to the Caribbean, so it’s a natural thing. Perhaps it’s reggae that found me, I don’t know. I am a bass percussionist so for me it’s the different rhythms to explore and exploit the reggae. It’s important for us to try to create a sound by being true to reggae,” said Jaba.
In bands since the age of ten, Jaba no longer wants to be the frontman. While he’s still the lead singer, he prefers to stay behind his drums. While he is a strong believer in reggae music Jaba does not consider himself a rasta, the Abrahamic belief which developed in Jamaica in the 1930s.
“Reggae and rasta for me is not quite the same thing. Reggae is music that can carry a message. Rastafari is rather a culture, a way of life. I am more on the reggae side but, of course, I put a lot of importance in the words … to make people think, that is what is very important for me,” added Jaba.
The aim of Jaba & Friends is purely artistic. They rely on their fans’ feedback as well as direct support and donations, saying they prefer to “bypass the established trappings of commercial exploitation”.
The group is preparing an online live event for October of this year.