You have no idea how much I have wanted to have a conversation with this man. I am undeniably a fan of his work, his charisma and humility. I have seen him perform in Grenada and the UK. What Marcus ‘Lavaman’ James has done for Jab music and the Grenada music industry is immeasurable. Lavaman is all about Jab, Jab music Grenada style. And if you have ever been to Spice Mas (Grenada carnival) and experienced their J’ourvert, then you would understand how powerful and unforgettable Jab music and playing Jab is. His catalogue of music is vast as he has been working and putting out music for a long time. He has been with Fullmoon Entertainment since 2002. But even before this he has been singing, writing, working. My personal favourites have been ‘Ah Cyan Hear’, ‘Gutter’ ‘Psycho’ ‘We Nah Change’ and his most recent collaboration with Kerwin Du Bois ‘Nike’. This multi talented artist sings, writes, produces, supports and more.
So many people said that Lavaman does not do interviews so having the opportunity to talk with him was a blessing. We have this conversation just after his performance at the All White Fete at the Ibiza Soca Festival. And Lavaman did not disappoint.
I’ve always wanted to ask you this. Cause when I think of Jab music, I think of you. So if you had to explain what jab music is, how would you describe it? Jab music… very infectious. I feel is like the drums alone speaks to the soul. Any place jab music play you see people react to it instantly. It’s very I would say something very infectious and deep. I’m very passionate about it. You know what I mean? Cause everybody in Grenada is a jab. All PM playing jab [laughter].
People have tried to replicate it, but is not really the same… That is our blessing too and that is why we should try to push further cause people are now really getting on it.. So yes focus on it.
You have such control of the crowd. How do you do that? Is that experience? Guess it is just God’s blessings. It’s the energy and the vibe. I think the people always feel something real.
In terms of music, you are a power man. But I noticed that you are doing a bit more groovy now. Is that something that you wanted to do? Yeah I always wanted groovy in my catalogue cause most times when I go out to perform I always get the crowd on a high. To bring them down plus you yourself might have all that energy pumping in you, you might need a breather you know so it definitely has to fit in the catalogue. And that’s a form of money music, the groovy. That’s what they call it. So it’s all good. I have to give thanks to King Bubba, Platter Studio. Cause he put me on and gave me ‘We Nah Change’, June Bomb Riddim, And that kinda propelled me more on the international market so definitely have to give thanks.
Do you think you hard core fans will like you going a bit softer? Umm even if I am going softer, I always include the mas in it. So it still has that griminess to it ‘We go mash up’.
You have worked with many people. If you had to think about one or two people that you worked with which was meaningful for you who would they be? In terms of artists? I would definitely say every one. Cause everyone had input. And likewise if I was to do a tune with, let me say for instance, if I do something with Skinny Fabulous, Vincy crowd I can appeal to and they will appeal to me more. Even in my island Grenada,I am from St. Georges. I do something with someone St. Patrick, it works.
Is there anyone in particular you want to collaborate with now? As time comes I would say anyone. Really? You don’t have anyone on your wish list? Kes, Have already done some collabs. Kerwin… already did it with ‘Nike’. Have something coming crazy coming with Peter Ram. A tune called ‘Bad Head’. That definitely gonna tun up!. Something with Skinny Fabulous, something called ‘Tooth Ache’. So definitely and definitely can’t forget the king of Soca kingdom, Machel Montano HD you know. Must give him his… I know that’s the king. But as they say ‘Time you know is everything’.
Now the smaller islands, the music seems to be pushing forward, why do you think that is? Cause we keep knocking on the door and we ain’t giving up. The small islands have a vibe that we always keep. Groovy soca is rising but we always keep the power. As a people, we can’t drink and chip too long, we need energy to be released so you know? Power.
Have you ever played in Trinidad? I went to Trinidad and did army fete and performed ‘Gyal Alone’ in 2013. It was well received. But I never really focus on the carnival aspect as Trinidad have their ting and Trinidad artists have to buss too. I never watch it like stop somebody food. Which is good thing cause Trinidad is the dynamic of the thing. So definitely give Trinidad and Tobago much respect. But as time goes by will look forward to getting into the market.
You have performed in so many different places. Where have you got the maddest crowd? Apart from home. The maddest crowd… that’s hard to say because even look for instance Ibiza could have been number 1. I definitely have to shout out New York and Toronto [laughter] mad people place. And then when you talk about London, is on a next scale. But for this year? We gonna do a survey, which is the maddest place? Is it London, Toronto or New York? Well Toronto and New York may have more numbers. You feel it? London is very crazy too. That’s the battle right now, who can defend the madness [laughter]
I heard you are a good cook. Wow, all of that? [laughter]. What’s your favourite thing to cook? Numerous. I’m a person, I love the Indian cuisine so I do a lot of Indian.
So when you are not performing, what do you do to relax? To be honest, I’m a workaholic. Always working. And when I am not working is family time. Get some time for myself but the majority of the time, family and work. And cooking.
Thinking about working, is there any particular goal that you have now? Do you want to work more on writing? Or groovy? To be honest right now, there are different stems. I am putting in some work for some other artists, writing for them, international artists. I don’t just want to call out their name. Likewise I am focusing on my show. My personal show I wanted to do it this year. With the collabs I’m doing, the writing I am doing, building better bond with the artists. So I watch it for 2019. White Rave, The Lava Show. That’s what I am working on right now. The support is great, even from other artists. Doing the collabs, meeting other people, going places kinda come out of the shy zone a little. Cause you know me, I’m a little quiet, humble, laid back you know? Just keeping the brand going, a clothing line, you know different things. Humble, piece by piece but we doing it.
You have a very quiet laid back persona. When you’re out on stage though, that’s other thing. When you’re off stage, you’re back to quiet. How does the two come together? At the end of the day is the people that make me. I never want to show off or ego you know? I always keep myself as humble as possible.
Is that a hard thing to do in your industry? You have to respect the people. Once you respect the people, you will be cool. Definitely see it all over the world. Some people let things get to their head. I try my best not to… always keep humble and respect everyone.
Thinking about the moment you have been most proud of, is there anything you have been proud of? Umm so much, so much. That list is young. I help out the youths. A lot.
That’s probably what most people don’t know. How do you help them out? If I realise they are trying, I will do my best to push them cause there is food for everybody. Nobody should be fighting anyone or be jealous of nobody cause at the end of the day, every one has a blessing to put food on the table. I always believe in helping. Even for like, you know big up Little Natty and Thunder, Top Striker. I endorse I, and push it. Cause when you see people doing the work, you need to endorse it and give Jack the jacket. And those two brothers are doing marvelous right now. Big up every Grenadian artist, every Caribbean artist.
Apart from your music and helping the youths, what else do you do? You sound like a busy man. [laughter] Trying to do my own business and stuff. For instance I have a costume rental. Just spreading my wings in different places. Because it’s one thing to make money and not invest it.
How do you take care of yourself? Cause I remember there was a time when you fell ill? Umm to be honest, I don’t think it is something you can really stop. At that time when I got sick, that was like two performances back to back that night. J’ouvert in July, then Ten to Ten. But what happened, after J’ouvert in July, I had no time to go home and change. I had to go straight there. Tried to get the mud off my shoes from J’ouvert in July. I tried to wash it off, my shoes got wet. At the same time, people are calling ‘Where are you guys, where are you guys? Rush off to do the next show. The show started, the body got heated up again. Got home, took off my shoes to relax. Cold breeze came and I ended up knocking out. Falling asleep on a beach chair right outside, me and my friend just talking who came to the show. All I know when I wake up, I can’t move. Pain straight down my back. Some saying semi stroke, some saying draught. We learn from it. Cause it kept me out for the rest of the season. That’s the part too. I work real hard but people don’t see that. I work real hard. But I put things in place for that right now.
What do you want to see for Grenada? What do you want to see for Grenadian music? The market expand and be able to provide for the family.
Do you think if it expands more though, it might become diluted and won’t be pure Grenada jab? I guess we just working trying to spread it. With collabs. People from different islands doing collabs, like Kerwin doing a collab, Machel endorsing Little Natty and Thunder. Always have to give mad respect to Skinny, that is like my brother. Then I have another brother Bubba. But we just can’t just keep it one genre cause we have some talented singers on the island that singers, singers that might not take part in jab but can sing. There are so much.
Would you do anything like R’N’B? Pop? If it comes to that, you need the right set of people. Yeah definitely.
So there you have it. The workaholic Jab King who wants to push Grenada further on the international market, who endorses and helps upcoming artists, who is mad and crazy on stage but off stage, quiet respectful and focused. Don’t let the colourful hair and madness n stage fool you. Really intelligent guy with a warm personality. I am looking forward to his rave. Where ever it is, I’ll reach.
For more information on Lavaman or to check out his music, please visit Lavaman on Facebook, Lavamanddragon on Instagram, Lavaman on Twitter and Soundcloud.
Videography by Advance Dynamics, Photography by Larri Alleyne Photography.