The musician discusses his upcoming work, starting with a new single and video on Friday.
BY DAN ADLERMARCH 13, 2020
BY HARRY EELMAN.
By the time the Jamaican musician Chronixx released his debut album Chronology in 2017, he was already used to performing across the world. He stretched his supple voice from home to Asia, Africa, and Europe as he flitted between sweeping musical gestures and plaintive lyrical intricacy.
The effort added to his reggae chart accolades by garnering him more high-profile fans and endorsements without any major label backing. At the same time, it drained him, and led him to rethink what he wanted out of his music and career. “As you try to make everything exactly as you imagine it,” Chronixx said in an interview in New York last week, “you burn yourself out.”
“I’ve had times in my life where there was this really loud and distinct voice in my head telling me, Yo, go and do that,” he said, laughing for a moment at the notion. “And after you do that, then do this. But I haven’t been hearing that very clearly.”
On Friday, Chronixx announced that his second album, Dela Splash, will be released later this year. He took what he described as his downcast fatigue as the starting point for it. “The main word I would use is dark,” he said. “It’s so much darker than anything else I’ve ever done.”
But Chronixx’s sense that he’d lost his direction also led him home: The album is named for a discontinued annual concert in Spanish Town’s De La Vega City, where he and his musician father Chronicle are from. He followed that impulse in the lead single “Dela Move”—inspired by the 1987 Admiral Bailey song “Della Move”—and accompanying Nabil Elderkin–directed video, and ended up with something more high-spirited and playful than the state he was writing in may have suggested.
“It’s like a freestyle, that whole song,” Chronixx said. “I had three songs on that beat, and I chose that one ’cause it’s just fun. It doesn’t have a chorus; it goes from start to finish just going from different flows, different melodies, and the lyrics doesn’t really make much sense, to be honest. It’s more of a musical jam, fusing the different sounds.”
“You ever watch a kung fu movie where before they start fighting they would do a demonstration of all the styles?” he continued. “I think this is what this song is like. It’s like a demonstration of all the styles that are on the album: Oh, so he has Atlanta drums, he has Ethiopian samples, he has a title from 1980s Jamaica dancehall.”
Dela Splash is still coming together as Chronixx works out some horn sections, partly because he has opened up his circle of collaborators. On Chronology, only his father had a feature, while last week, he was surprised and excited about a verse that had just come in for the new album. He’s still working with his longtime producer Teflon but said the production would vary in its personnel and style. His daughter just turned one, and Chronixx said that would account for some of the upcoming music’s more interior, intimate textures: He records at home and found a hushed manner of singing that wouldn’t disturb her too much.
It was perhaps a characteristic maneuver for an artist who makes music as almost an incidental fact of life—and who isn’t under a record deal. “What requires a push for me is to release music,” Chronixx said. “To make music, no one has to push me to do that…once I’m in existence there’s going to be music being made.” His thoughts in conversation often sprawled out in long explorations about such fundamental concerns, and he emphasized on a few occasions that he viewed any success as part of a larger project: “All the people who bet on you from the start, who gave up everything else that they could be doing to make sure that your visions could be realized, you have to also be a part of their vision as well, and where they’re trying to go, and the things that they even envision for you.”
As Chronixx’s global profile has grown, so have the expectations of him, and he was somewhat ambivalent about continuing to push forward. “You’re having to continue and still do your thing, but what you’re experiencing on the inside is you feel like you’re at a crossroads,” he said. But in the creative pleasures of “Dela Move” and Dela Splash he found an opportunity to hone in on the joy of making music in the first place. “Every album I’m trying to achieve the same thing,” Chronixx said, “but I’m just trying to get closer to it.”More Great Stories From Vanity Fair
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