Dancehall, Feature

ZJ Liquid Talks New Album, BET’s First Reggae Cypher & Dancehall Juggling Era

Multi-talented artist ZJ Liquid recently sat down with the hosts of the Fix Youtube channel for a wide-ranging interview about his new album Point of View. The popular deejay, whose real name is Micheal Brissett, explained to the hosts that he took a break from music to rebuild his career as he wanted to make sure that he paid his dues.

One of the things that helped him bring this album together was his versatility. “From ever since me play all genres, anything,” he said. He spoke about the process for the new album.

New Album Point of View

He said that he has been working on the 14 track album for close to two years now.

“Me been working on it for like two years and a year and a half, 2018 me drop the EP Mobay Son, and di feature the single Dem Nuh Like We, Keep a Smile pon me face, from dey in a different grove,” he said.

The break that he took was to reflect on his career, rebuild his brand, and try to learn from other artistes. “Me wah know say yo anytime me ready or if whatever opportunity forward me ready pon the spot at anytime and you know me can deliver.” He added that he did the album for fans who wondered about his career as a performer and kept asking for new music.

“This time ah full focus,” he said and added that it’s not about people taking him seriously as an artist but rather knowing that he is a serious artist. His hiatus was a learning experience and reiterated that it was very important to him to pay his dues even though he is well known for his deejaying skills.

“You can’t rush it, you can’t really force it, sometime you know you just have to really feel it. Sometimes you ah push things wey people nah really connect to that.” ZJ Liquid also said that he has become more selective about rhythms and producers like Seanizzle and Dane Ray because he wants to focus on finding the right chemistry with the right producers so that he can put out the best music that truly connects with his audience.

“It’s more of a more mainstream album. It have a little of everything meaning topics and music like genre a little fusing ah this, fusing ah that.”

He also said that he doesn’t use his deejay influence to get his music played as he usually waits until the producer is finished and sends it out and just waits to see the reactions. The most he’s asked for with this album is honest opinions from his friends.

The artist known for his production and deejay skills considered all of his talents as extensions of music and said he has no problem balancing them when it comes to making music. He said he’s still building on his deejay skills and still practices.

“My strength in ah deejay ah the mix, the transition.” He added that he would not give up deejaying if his career blows up more but he would decline to do as many parties and would work on his scheduling.

He continued on to say that’s because he’s been a selector his entire life. The album is available on all digital platforms. His favorite song of the album is Overcome because it highlights his journey and conquering of obstacles to get to this point. This song also reminds him of where he came from, and that included his days being homeless.

1st BET Reggae Cypher

He recently appeared on BET’s first Reggae cypher and said it was an honor to participate. He also thanked management team Romeich Entertainment for making it happen

“Me never know it was BET awards anyway really until I got there. All the time me know me just have something fe do me ah go do a video.”

When he got to the location, he was told it was for the cypher. “It was a pleasure for me for just be the Reggae star.” He said the beats that were chosen were a good balance between new and older ones, and he believed that Reggae and Dancehall were well represented at the end of the experience.

ZJ Liquid Suspension from Zip FM

He also spoke briefly about his suspension from local radio station Zip 103FM in 2011. He was suspended after he allegedly committed a breach of station rules. He said that he’s never looked for another radio station job since that time because “at the end of the day me get suspension dem never say me fired.” He added being so busy producing and being in demand took his mind off of the suspension. He does miss it sometimes, he admitted but said because he trusts the station, he was willing to abide by their decision. He was suspended for four months at that time.

He said he was proud to be part of Zip 103FM because he was there from the beginning and believed that they changed the scope of music. He also believes that the radio format will not die because some people have no internet. He said that the music space is now shared, but that doesn’t mean that the format isn’t doing well.

The difference he believes is how people choose to listen to their music, but he said if you debut on the internet, where would the music play?

Challenges of the coronavirus pandemic on the entertainment industry

ZJ said that he has lost about half of his income since the coronavirus pandemic because a lot of his international gigs have been cancelled. He said this was mostly due to losing summer time jobs.

He said he misses the vibe of playing live for people even though he believes that they still connect with the music. He said it would be great to play for a party post-Covid-19 and not have to look at the watch and worry. He anticipated it might have a full week of parties when the time is right.

“Of course, you miss the real people dem, the vibe, that roar of the crowd. People just ah drink, the real vibe,” he said excitedly. He added even though you get live feedback from social media, it’s not the same as seeing the crowd and hearing people request a recently played song.

Is Dancehall Juggling Dying?

The face of music juggling has changed, he said. “Sometimes producer overdo it and sometimes ah selfishness too.” He explained that sometimes producers would put too many people on a rhythm and that would kill it.

“Remember now, back in the day, you used to go ah the record shop and buy what we like and that’s it. Wah we nah like stay ah record shop but now times change, yuh have a CD you can put 20 songs pon it,” he said adding that many people can now be given a chance that wouldn’t have made a record.

He said that ZIP, along with IRIE FM, had helped Dancehall over the years by giving artistes a platform and felt that the station was not diluting Dancehall by playing other genres but was still a big promoter of Dancehall. “We balance it, ZIP ah ZIP.” He said that his major annoyance with artists these days is that they demand that their music is played and don’t exercise patience and trust the deejays. “Tomorrow is a next day bro,” he said.

On the issue of the volume of ads that the station is known for, he said radio was about more than just the music and was also about making money and spreading information. “It’s a business also. It’s all about information.”

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