Monday, May 16, 2011

The Saginaw News: The Process releases international collaboration with England's Ghetto Priest

Lionartists.jpgArtists involved in making "The Lion of Judah Hath Prevailed" are, from top clockwise, Ghetto Priest, The Process, Adrian Sherwood, Congo Natty, Skip "Little Axe" McDonald and David Harrow.
Published: Monday, May 16, 2011
For three years, David Asher has spread the word, talking about an international project, a collaboration with a brain trust of musicians and producers in Great Britain, a recording that would take The Process out of this world.

Anyone who knows The Process knows there is no one like Asher to drum up some enthusiasm — in another age, he might have traveled with the Ringling Bros., rounding up audiences for the coming circus.

And “The Lion of Judah Hath Prevailed” is a reality now, the collection of mixes and a bonus track available on the website and at Records and Tapes Galore in Saginaw.

Don’t listen for it on local radio stations soon, though the Rastafarian-influenced tune is getting play on England’s BBC and stations in Windsor, Ann Arbor, San Francisco, Portland and Houston. But be warned, once you hear it, it’s going to rattle around your head for a long time to come.

“I found The Process via MySpace,” Ghetto Priest said of the Vassar-based band, talking via e-mail from England about the project totally carried out through the Internet. “When I listened to their music, and saw it was a rock band open-minded enough to play reggae music, I thought of it as an interesting challenge and possible collaboration.”

Asher sent Ghetto Priest, a Rastafarian himself, a link to the film, “The Footsteps of the Emperor,” about Emperor Halie Selassie’s exile in England in the 1930s, Asher said, and within two weeks, Ghetto Priest sent back a vision of where he saw the song going. It was a tribute, Asher said, to “the courage of the emperor of Ethiopia who never lost his faith that God and right would prevail over the forces of evil.”

Soon after, guitarist Skip “Little Axe” McDonald and vocalist Mikki Sound, producers Adrian Sherwood and David Harrow and rapper Congo Natty AKA Rebel MC joined the mix and it began to grow.

“It started as a single and then took on a life of its own,” said Asher, who with bandmates Garrick Owen, Bill Hefflefinger, Gabe Gonzalez and Seth Payton worked with local producers Gee Pierce and Bernard Terry at their studios on the recording, featuring Hefflefinger’s arrangements.

In the meantime, Ghetto Priest was laying down tracks at Sherwood’s On-U Sound Studios in London with McDonald and Sound. And electronic music producer Harrow, now living in Los Angeles, did his own “Dub-step” take on the piece, adding it to McDonald’s reinvention of the song and Sherwood’s three mixes, including one that pulled in Congo Natty to “toast” over the tracks, a Jamaican style of talking over the instrumentals, similar to rap.

“We ended up with six mixes — and a bonus track, ‘Ghetto Life,’ from Ghetto Priest’s upcoming album, ‘Sacred Ground,’ ” Asher said, adding that The Process’ own version embraces the blend of high-energy rock with the warmth and passion of reggae the band’s fans have come to expect.

Ghetto Priest, considered one of the most flamboyant and creative performers on the London music scene, Asher said, is known for pulling the rhythm of the street into his music. And it didn’t take long for him to tap into The Process as well.

“I grew up listening to all kinds of music, so for me, differences are no obstacle, or even a barrier for that matter,” Ghetto Priest said.

As for the process — the American and British musicians have never met — “in this technological digital age we live in, physical distance is no problem,” he said. “I suppose it would been a great vibe for all involved, working at the same time in the same place, but due to the situation, we made good with what we had.”

The Process’ recordings survived a fire in Pierce’s studio, Asher said, and a transfer to Terry’s place in Flint, so a digital collaboration was one of the easiest parts of the process.

“You don’t have to be in the same room to create anymore,” he said, talking about how Ghetto Priest would send a verse and he’d add a few more and a bridge. “In the end, it lived up to everything we hoped and more. It was almost mystical, the way it all came together, very star-crossed.

“It couldn’t have happened without God’s hand in it.”

The Process has turned its attention on its own music for the moment, Asher said, as attention builds on “The Lion of Judah Hath Prevailed.” He’d like to go to England at some point and meet the people who’ve worked so closely with him on the project.

There are no plans for another collaboration at this point, he said, “but I’d like to do more work with them. It’s still hard to believe Adrian Sherwood was involved; I’ve admired his work for many years.”

Ghetto Priest says the same.

“I have no great plan to collaborate, but if it happens, and the artist or musician reflects what I do, that’s cool!”


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