Wednesday, 12 October 2011

SMOOTH OPERATOR: Keeping his songs emotionally authentic is key to Romain Virgo

ON HIGH: Virgo talks songwriting and his success.

One thing’s for sure: years from now Romain Virgo won’t be worrying that he left things unsaid. As he tells it, a good number of his songs have been autobiographical – and his critically acclaimed self-titled debut album, released last summer, is filled with emotionally charged songs he wrote or co-wrote over the past couple years – a period no doubt filled with relationships, admiration from local and international fans, and his observations of the standard of living in Jamaica and elsewhere.

“Most of the songs I write come from a personal place. It’s a personal thing,” he tells TALLAWAH of his popular hits coated in reggae-soul and pop-dancehall confection. “I always write about what I see or what I am going through. It is easier to write something that feels real and comes from a personal place.” And it’s formula that Virgo applies to even his encounters with attractive members of the opposite sex. “Even today I met a girl, and the first thing that came to my mind was writing a song about [the experience].”

For the 21-year-old singer-songwriter, keeping both himself and his art honest has played a significant role in his ongoing evolution as a young man and his creative growth as an artiste. Part of the credit, he admits, belongs to those contemporaries in reggae and dancehall who dually inspire and challenge him for the better. “I’ve been around other artistes, like Busy Signal, D Major and Brown Suga, who have creative minds and definitely a similar style to mine and it encourages me to lift my game,” Virgo says. “I like to surround myself with people who are serious and who bring substance to the music, and also producers who are influential and make good music,” he adds, while giving kudos to other young go-getters like Nicholas Browne (son of producer Danny Browne), who penned Virgo’s latest hit, “Rich In Love.”

Professionally, 2011 has been full of highlights for Virgo, who not only put out a slew of chart-climbers, but also appeared on VP Records’ star-studded compilation release Reggae’s Gone Country, which led to a successful performance of the gem “California” at Nashville’s Academy of Country Music Awards (ACMs) last month with Larry Gatlin. Back home now, Virgo says he and his team have kicked off a strong promotional drive in support of his new singles, bringing them to the attention of radio disc jockeys and the fans. And he’s planning to close out the year on a high with a special music video for “System (Feel like Letting Go)”, a soul-searching record that speaks to the standard of living and holding those in authority to account. Says Virgo, “We just did the video with [director] Asha, and it should be released within a few weeks.”

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