Exclusive interview with Jamaican EDM artist The Kemist!

As seen in the COCO Magazine! 

His name is quite fitting, as this artist and DJ has been busy in the studio successfully mixing up a fusion of Jamaica’s very own dancehall and reggae with electronic dance music (EDM). The result yields a sound full of high energy and infectious beats; a sound that entices one to the dance floor, with pumping tempos and melodies so fresh making it impossible for you not to move and jump.

The Kemist released his first mixtape entitled “Party Animal” in December 2014 and fans are already screaming for the next one! With over 1.2 million spins on Soundcloud he has clearly made a huge impression on the music industry.

So who is this mad scientist? Now internationally known after dropping down in the EDM industry with a bang, The Kemist, born Errol Kemar Thompson, hails from Kingston, Jamaica. As the son of the Queen of Reggae, Marcia Griffiths, it is no surprise that music is his forte. His father, Errol Thompson Sr., was also a musician and a well-known radio personality in Jamaica. At the tender age of 3, The Kemist found himself sharing the stage with the great Bob Marley. He was raised surrounded by music, touring all over the world as a musician with his Mom’s band and as a music director at one point in time, as well.

In 2012, The Kemist teamed up with Mike Thompson to form the production duo “Black Lion.” Black Lion has found great success thus far and can take credit for producing tracks for artists such as Brick and Lace, Kelly Rowland,Nyanda, and Kat Dahlia. Not long after in 2013, The Kemist found himself producing tracks for Yellow Claw and Tropkillaz. Their first single “Assets” became a hit on the club scene propelling The Kemist into a solo career.

The Kemist stands apart from other artists and DJs in that he can perform his own records. He has collaborated with many international artists including Cesqeaux, DirtCaps, Seek N Destroy, and LNY TNZ, among others. I got the chance to chat with The Kemist and get the inside scoop on what concoctions he is currently mixing up! Read on to find out 16 reasons why you should know Jamaican EDM artist, The Kemist.

Ms. Betty Lou: First of all, congratulations on the December 2014 release of your first mixtape! Over 1.2 million plays! How does that feel? You must be excited.
The Kemist: Yea, I am definitely excited about the mixtape, it’s my first one. It took a while to get everything prepared, but it was easy to figure out the energy for the mixtape. Most of my material has a driving force. The Party Animal title was an easy one to come up with. It was fun and exciting, and I’m glad it was received well.

Ms. Betty Lou: It most definitely was. Son of the Queen of reggae! What was it like growing up on the road with your mom?
The Kemist: Well, that was an eye opener from me in my early teens and early twenties. I was on the road during the summer time when there was no school. It was a lot of fun. I got to hang around all of the greats and learn from them. I got to travel to a lot of different countries and cities, which is something I am very grateful that music offers. Being able to travel is a very invaluable opportunity. Seeing these countries and being around Beres Hammond, Marcia Griffith, Third World, Black Uhuru, Steel Pulse and all these groups, I definitely picked up a lot along the way, so I was very fortunate.

Ms. Betty Lou: Definitely! So you were a musician in her band?
The Kemist: In the beginning no, but after a few years I became a keyboardist/pianist in a band for some of these tours, and a musical director as well. So I eventually got into it.

Ms. Betty Lou: Awesome. When did you know music was your calling?
The Kemist: Music was something that has always been part of my life; of course initially the introduction was from my mother. From a musician standpoint, I just found myself picking up the piano that was outside on the veranda from an early age. I was always a fan of it and found myself trying to play different songs on the radio. It was an easy transition into making it more of a professional thing. In my early-mid-twenties, I actually started to take it seriously and started seeing it as a viable avenue.

Ms. Betty Lou:Why EDM?
The Kemist: Well I went to University in London and that was my first introduction to house music. Where I went to school there wasn’t a lot of reggae or dancehall clubs. My new European friends took me to these house clubs, that’s when I first got a taste of house music. I realized these people were just having fun, just letting it all go and partying. After this first taste, it soon transitioned into EDM.

Ms. Betty Lou: So you were a party animal? (laughs)
The Kemist: (laughs) Oh definitely. I work very hard, so when the time comes, I play harder.

Ms. Betty Lou: I can definitely relate to that! Now tell us, how did you link up with Mike Thompson from Black Lion?
The Kemist: It’s an interesting story. Way before we started to play music he was working at a store I went to, he was behind the counter. Somehow music came up and he mentioned to me that he produces. I said, “Wow, me too.” We exchanged numbers, but it wasn’t until about 2 years later that we finally got together. We each said you have some skills and talents that you bring to the table, and I bring what I bring. At that point we decided to put our skills together. It turned out we have the same last name too, so [that was] perfect.

Ms. Betty Lou: You stand apart from other DJs in that you play and perform your own records. What is that like?
The Kemist: Well that just came with the territory I think. While growing up I would also sing background for these various reggae artists while playing the keyboard; I always kind of dabbled in singing/DJing or spinning. In high school I was in these class competitions where we would compete against other classrooms and two guys would go head to head. I’ve always been DJing and singing casually. While making music, sometimes you have your own ideas and not necessarily for someone else, sometimes just for yourself. It kind of just came to be.

Ms. Betty Lou: So you’re just multitalented?
The Kemist: Hey, it’s all a part of the creative process.

Ms. Betty Lou: That’s actually what we want to hear about next. Tell us about the creative process for you! What happens in that mind of yours?
The Kemist: Well ideally you want to be inspired, ideally. It definitely starts with inspiration and that can come from anywhere at anytime. You just hope that you are available to be able to put it down when it comes. Realistically, you can start with a beat or a melody and you just lay the ideas as they go. Sometimes its quick, sometimes it takes days, weeks, or even months. I try not to force it. I like when it comes naturally, it definitely flows easier that way.

Ms. Betty Lou: Nice! So what does your Mom think about the type of music you do? Does she get down when you throw on your mixtape?
The Kemist: (laughs) My mother is the coolest thing on the planet. She supports everything I do. She loves music. She’s waiting on me now to do some stuff for her, and she’s telling me I’m too busy for her now (laughs). But she supports everything I do. My music is a little bit of everything and in that respect I think she loves it. Built on a foundation of reggae and dancehall then mix in the different influences of Motown, Pop, R&B, Stevie Wonder, love songs; I just put it all in one melody and bring it together. You hear influences of all those things in all of my music.

Ms. Betty Lou: That’s great! Tell us what artists have inspired you.
The Kemist: Wow, so many. Definitely my mom and all of the people of her time, Bob Marley, all of the groups and artists I mentioned earlier. My father was very influenced by Motown, so he would play a lot of those songs while I was growing up. Stevie Wonder is definitely one of my favorites. Elton John, Billy Joel, even rock and roll, Def Leppard, Nine Inch Nails, the Beetles; I can go on and on. I’m a very big fan of music. Even though I’m in the industry, there are times I just unplug from that creative world and go back to being a listener. Sometimes I’m just a radio person driving jamming to anything on the radio. I try to remain a fan of the music; sometimes you can get too caught up when you’re in it.

Ms. Betty Lou: That is so true. What other singles do you have out that we can look for?
The Kemist: There’s a single out now called “Fired Up” from the LNY TNZ. They are good friends of mine that I’m featured on with Ruthless, who is my Holland connection. I have other singles out with the guys who broke me into that Dutch market; they’re called Yellow Claw. They are good friends of mine as well. They were the first ones who put me on and put me in the game when it comes to Holland and the EMD world; so big ups to Yellow Claw. I have a song with them called “Assets” and one called General coming out in the next couple months.

Ms. Betty Lou: What’s on the agenda for 2015? What can we expect to see from The Kemist?
The Kemist: For 2015, I’ll be putting out more singles and picking up where I left off last year. In the next month or two I will be hitting the road on a European tour with Little John. It will be Little John and I doing a three to four week tour in Europe. So I will be preparing for that and for festivals in the summer time. 2015 will be just work, and working hard. I’m thankful that my working hard happens to be for something I love to do. Not many people can say that, so I don’t take it for granted.

Ms. Betty Lou: That is definitely something to be grateful for and congratulations on the tour! Of course us COCO ladies must know, are you single? And if so, what do you look for in a woman?
The Kemist: (laughs) Oh yea definitely single, ladies. Physically the only thing I’ll say is no extremes; nothing too tall, nothing too big, nothing too slender, right in the middle there. Any race is fine, no discrimination. I definitely like a down-to-earth girl, that’s my type; one that doesn’t mind just relaxing. That is the perfect counterpart for me. A little bit upstairs, of course. I love to talk and discuss all different things, so I need someone who can be on that level with me. Other than that, I’m a pretty simple guy; it doesn’t really take much to get me going.

Ms. Betty Lou: Well that’s good to know! Tell us where we can download your mixtape and find you online!
The Kemist: My mixtape and all my music you can find on Soundcloud, my soundcloud page is IamtheKemist. Facebook: Iamthekemist. Twitter: Iamthekemist. Instagram: Iamthekemist. The mixtape is a free download. Tour dates and things to come you can find on Twitter and Facebook.

Ms. Betty Lou: Well on behalf of COCO, thank you for taking the time to talk to us we really appreciate it and we are excited about what’s to come!
The Kemist: I appreciate COCO for having me. Big up and respect to everybody. One love. Stay tuned.

Get social with The Kemist

Facebook (@Iamthekemist)
Twitter (@Iamthekemist)
Instagram (@Iamthekemist)
SoundCloud (@IamtheKemist)

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