Interview with Seed Organization & Clinton Sly

Montreal-based reggae artists Seed Organization and Clinton Sly have been quite busy lately bringing their dub-wise sound to the Montreal community and beyond. Seed Organization, a Winnipeg-born producer and DJ, has already worked with several heavyweight reggae singers, including Daddy Scotty, Danger Man, and Mikey Murka. Recently, he’s teamed-up with Montreal vocalist Clinton Sly for number of tracks on Green House — Seed Organization’s sub-label off Balanced Records — and a brand-new tune, “Peace Love and Unity” on Svaha Sound’s Northern Light compilation. Reggae fans can see them performing live at MTL DUB Session in late May. Bucketlist writer Rob Coles caught up with the guys ahead of their March 18, 2016 set at Pull-Up Selector.

How long have you guys been working together?

Seed Org: Since 2012. Before I moved to Montreal from Winnipeg, Clinton had done a mix on Titan Sound’s “High Grade Show” and I think the guys had been in touch with him and said “Hey do you know this other guy from Canada?”

Clinton: Because Canada is such a small place!

Seed Org: It just so happened he was in Montreal and I was moving there in two months, and I heard his mixtape.

I guess there’s not a massive reggae community in Montreal, so it’s natural that you guys would eventually meet up?

Clinton: Not like there used to be. I think it was bigger in the 90s; that’s when dancehall peaked over here. I think that was the last time we had a lot of Jamaican artists coming over for big events. After that, as dancehall faded from the media spotlight, the popularity of the scene kind of dried up here too.

It’s a small community and everybody kind of knows everybody.

Clinton: Yeah exactly, everybody who is anybody has probably already worked together. Obviously for me, hooking up with anybody else across Canada is a plus, because it’s a shame most Canadians don’t get to explore much of the country. Instead of me going over to Winnipeg to fight the cold, Spencer came over here.

I know you guys generally play reggae, but how would you describe your music?

Clinton: For me, I left dancehall a little behind. I associate dancehall with a more youthful thing not to say I’m not young but there’s so much more you could write about with other styles. With dancehall, compared to what it was back then, there seems to be a bit of narrowing of some of the subject matter. People don’t take on serious matters as much as they used to, you know? I branched out into different styles like roots, dub, and steppers. That’s kind of where Spencer came in. Once I discovered him doing his style, I thought this was a perfect fit for my lyrical content.  Styles of music that people don’t generally link to reggae, but reggae did give birth to them, like jungle, and, to a certain extent, dubstep I’ll even dabble in those genres. For the most part I’ll do straight up roots music, but obviously you can hear the dancehall too.

What do you have planned for the Pull-Up Selector show?

Seed Org: It’s going to be a soundsystem clash, but not in the battle sense.  We’re going to be playing shorter sets and keeping the energy high. We have done that already.

Clinton: It’s about keeping the energy level pretty intense. Everybody’s going to try to bring their A-game when it comes to tunes. You don’t want to be known as the crew that spreads the crowd and thins it out. You want to keep people moving constantly. That’s what our aim is going to be.

Seed Org: No ice cream sound!

When you guys play a live set, do you use your own music, music by other producers, or a combination of both?

Seed Org: Generally when we play together we do a mix, unless we are doing a showcase for Clinton. We will play big tunes that we both dig, plus the riddims so that Clinton can roll over them. So it’s a mix.

Clinton: For this event I think it’s going to be a play on what we’ve done with some of the tunes we’ve worked on together. We’ll also try to put a different spin on other popular riddims, like the “Taxi” riddim, for example. I’ll take one of my tunes that I currently have out there and just try to run it on that riddim, because that’s what’s hot right now. So that’s the game plan, without giving away too much.

Do you have to read what the crowd is feeling too?

Clinton: Definitely, especially for Spencer; you got to feel out the crowd.

What else do you guys have coming up?

Clinton: We have the Blackout Sound event MTL Dub Session. They were doing them last summer at Passport. It’s another line up of different selectors with a couple of vocal artists for people to gather and have a good time. Event-wise, that’s what we have in the foreseeable future, but it’s a long way to go for the warm weather.

Seed Org: It seems that Montreal is set for a lot of dub this spring, if the next three weeks are anything.

It’s been really quiet all winter, and now as soon as the weather gets nicer there’s all these shows.

Seed Org: I think I found when I moved to Montreal and we were doing Lightah events starting in the summer, they were good until it started snowing, and then…

Clinton: It’s harder to get people to come out when they see a bit of damp, cold weather.

Seed Org: The main thing is it’s spring, it’s beautiful outside, and it’s starting!

Clinton: As for the studio, we’re working on a couple of projects. We’re in the early phases of a collaboration project hoping to get it out before the end of 2016. There’s another EP project I’m working on. Of course there’re tunes I’m working on for the dubstep crowd a younger crowd. I’m trying to bring them in to reggae music. A lot of those people who started following me recently, who listened to dubstep primarily, they weren’t too familiar with reggae. It’s nice to see them being introduced to it just by listening to what I’ve done, and they kind of take a bit more of an interest in the genre now. Not to say that I would like them to only follow my music, it’s just nice to see other people show some interest in the whole genre of reggae music in general. Just more love to give.

I have a vocal sample pack as well, in collaboration with Dub Salon, and possibly another one on the way, so be on the lookout for that. I’m kind of multi-tasking all the time. I give everything my full attention all the time; I don’t go into any project half-assed. When I go into record it takes multiple takes.

Do you have any releases coming out on Balanced Records?

Clinton: My last album (Ready) was on Balanced, and I did a remix release of that on Balanced as well.

Seed Org: Well, those are on Green House, which is my sub-label on Balanced.

Who is on the remix album?

Clinton: The remix version had FLeCK, so there’s a bit of jungle in there, and Dirty Dubsters, so more jungle. There’s some dub, mixed in with some steppers, and of course Seed Organization had one of the remixes, “Strong Like a Lion.” It was a nice follow-up to the original, and it was nice to get a different spin on some tunes, a lot of them were dancehall oriented. The rest should be coming on Greenhouse, so look out for that.

Seed Org: Hopefully this fall we’ve got our EP that we’ve been working on together, which will be a bit of a different vibe than the stuff we have done until now. It’s probably a little more digital than the project we worked on previously. And that’s going to be on vinyl. On digital too.

Clinton: But we want to put more emphasis on the vinyl.

Seed Org: I think vinyl is a way to make contact, meet people, and give someone your vinyl. You can’t really do that with MP3s, well you can but it’s meaningless, it’s like “here’s an email”, or “here’s a spreadsheet.”

It’s more significant to give somebody a vinyl.

Seed Org: Exactly.

That’s going to be on Greenhouse?

Seed Org: It’s going to be on vinyl! I’ll say yes, I’m not sure if it will be on Balanced, there’s a lot of things we’re doing on Greenhouse so it makes sense to maybe do something slightly different with that. I’d say you can find it on seedorganization.ca whenever it does come out. And Clintonsly.com

Prior to that, I’ve got a record coming outKing Casio’s debut album. It’s a digital steppers tune: “Concrete Lion.” I did a remix, and I did all the mastering on it, so it’s going to be two songs by King Casio, a remix by one of his friends from Switzerland, and myself. Then after that it’s a tune I did with Dangerman, that I’ve kind of had done for a while now. With a remix by Toronto’s-own Dubmatix. Those should be coming out in spring.

Written and Compiled by Rob Coles
*edited by Kate Erickson

About Rob Coles 102 Articles
Rob started DJing trip hop and drum and bass in the late 90s at various underground watering holes and sub-standard, probably condemned warehouses in Winnipeg’s downtown core. He fondly remembers making weekly pilgrimages to the local record shop to pick up a fresh stack of the latest 12” singles for weekend gigs. As a co-founder of Quadrafunk Radio, Winnipeg’s longest-running electronic radio-show, Rob set out on a mission to find the perfect beat —for the mind and for the feet—be it reggae, dubstep, techno, or any other bass-driven, dub-infused sounds. Rob moved to Montreal in 2009 to study art history, but like so many other ex-pats he found himself mesmerized by the city’s deep music culture, talented performers, and late-night debauchery. You’ll find Rob nodding his head in the sweet-spot of the venue (as close to the sound-guy as possible) when the bass drops.

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