The HARDEST interview I have ever sat through & transcribed. He’s a 70-something year old man, on a long distance call (he was in Norway), on a cell phone & Jamaican! I think I was set up! He definitely ended up being one of the most interesting people I’ve gotten to interview. God bless you YRB for this challenge!
Have you ever sat down with your grandparents and taken in their tales of the good old days about that time “Bow-Legged Lou” tried to steal his parent’s car? Well, if you haven’t you should. Learning comes from experience and there is no one more experienced in reggae and dub music, than Lee “Scratch” Perry. Imagine your grandparents’ stories on steroids, with a splash of ganja and you’ve got the endless narratives of Lee “Scratch” Perry. In speaking with Mr. Perry, he shares with me the story of how he burned down his own studio in protest and is now rebuilding it in Switzerland. You shouldn’t expect any slumped over in your chair, drooling and snoring sagas from a man who created reggae, dub and the in famous scratch—that many DJ’s use today. Mr. Perry explains to us love, lunacy and what it’s like working with new blood on his latest album Repentance.
YRB: You have been through some 50 plus years of musical revolution. How has this shaped your last album, Repentance?
LSP: I am the musical revolution. The musical revolution that we have started in Jamaica.
YRB: I’ve counted 54 albums and that is not even counting your compilations. What can you attribute to your success as an artist?
LSP: What can I attribute to my success? My success is through one God—one God out of many gods, one angel of many angels, one destiny of many destinies. I had only one choice and the choice I had was me, Lee “Scratch” Perry. I have one trinity and the trinity I have is Lee “Scratch” Perry. The sky, the globe, the universe, the equator, the space, the atmosphere. I am the energy, what you call electrical light. All the good energy—the blue of the universe—all the electrical energy, all the electrical light. I read all the words in the Bible—from the book of life and I emit all the energy from the book of rule. I enjoy all the things I own, that’s my riches and my wealth and my fortune. My miracle glory. I share my wealth with my family.
I take LSP, but not the drugs. I am the sun. I am the Lee and I am the scratch. I am the dollar and I am the pyramid—the American pyramid. I am the power. I am the LSP.
L- for Lee, love and life, S-for sky and P- for power
LSP: Ok, of course it’s ok. I don’t make mistake, I only made madness. I don’t make mistakes, no meat, no pork chops. I am perfect.
YRB: Do you consider yourself the creator of reggae/dub?
LSP: Of course I am he father of reggae and I’m the father and pioneer of dub. I am the father and pioneer of love. I am the father and pioneer of all the children in the universe. I’m addicted to babies. I’m addicted to children. I’m addicted to love and I’m not allergic to hate. So I come with my government name, music and my God’s my word. I’m addicted to my God, I’m addicted to words and addicted to song. I’m addicted to pum pum and stuff like that—clean and lovely pum pum.
YRB: Did most of the moves you made to better your career revolve around money and having control?
I was blessed with all the love and all the energy. I didn’t have to be a rude boy. Being rude was not in my brain. Only love is in my brain and sweet sex and sweet caress and sweet kisses. Find me some pretty girls to be my business partners. I love the pretty girls, especially the sexy American and Jamaican girls. They shake their bum.
YRB: What’s the biggest perk of being a living legend?
LSP: God rules everything and I tell you to be born again and recreate yourself with God’s blessings. The greatest blessing and that greatest gift is to reincarnate yourself and revive yourself undead. I know I was dead, but I am no longer dead. I’m going to shake my head and shake my leg and jump in my bed and give God thanks for making me all over again.
YRB: You’ve decided to quit smoking and drinking to make sure it was Lee Perry that was making the music. Once you found out it was you making the music, did you ever feel like smoking or drinking could elevate your music?
LSP: You know me very well, that’s true. People told me you smoke ganja and you get the power. You smoke cigarettes and drink rum and you get the power. With the ganja and rum, give me the power, but me no want to be Bob Marley. Me decided the ganja make me think, me going to stop smoking. The rum makes me hot, me going to stop drinking the rum. And then the cigarettes turn me on, so me going to stop the cigarettes. You get rid of nicotine, it saves your lungs. You get rid of dead meat, it saves your body. Get rid of the alcohol and then you get rid of the girl who drink all the wine. You have to believe in yourself and believe I can stop with that. Why should I need to go to rehab to stop smoke? Why should I go to rehab to stop drink alcohol? Why should I go to rehab to stop the drugs? If I don’t take no drugs, I don’t go to rehab. I must be strong enough to say drugs, your days are out. Drugs, get out, drugs be out, drugs, be gone and let me be, I am on drugs, how about that? I don’t inhale any drug spirit or any drug demon. I inhale love spirit and I inhale life spirit and I inhale pure energy, pure love, pure power. I’ve got the power.
YRB: How has your music changed since your very first album in 1969? How have you changed?
LSP: I have changed because I’m clean. The hands of the human beings are what makes you. If your hands aren’t clean, the things you do will be unclean. If your hands are clean, the things you do will be very clean. My hands are clean I have washed my hands of unclean energy and I only put clean electric energy in my hand—no dead meat, no dead beef, no dead pork or dead fish. So, no dead stress and no stress. I’m making music now that have no stress and no distress. I’m making music now that pork, no fat, no lean- I’m making music that is clean.
YRB: What was it about Andrew W.K. that made you want to work with him on Repentance?
LSP: He wanted to work with me. Sometimes in the music industry, you have to work with new people—new energy. Well I like to work with new people because old people take your energy and don’t know what to do with it. I get clean energy and mix it up. I wanted to find a new agent to distribute my energy I work with him because he was hoping to resend my energy. I enjoyed having him with me.
YRB: Comic books are very important to you and your career. Why is that?
LSP: The comic writer thinks what he could do to make stuff balanced. The comic writer thinks about the Bible, then thinks about good and evil. The comic writer found heroes. Heroes must do good and heroes must suffer and after they suffer, they must win all the battles. Heroes prove that they can go through tribulations and come back as a winner. Superman was my hero. Batman was my hero. Iron Man was my hero. They are exterminators…the exodus. Exodus is my super agent, the exterminator, the movement of God’s people. Superman, Batman, Dragonman—I choose all the exterminators of evil.
YRB: Why do you call yourself a lunatic?
LSP: Because I want people to be scared of me. I want people to think I’m mad. I don’t want people to come around me with negative energy. I want to keep negative people and energy away so I call myself a lunatic and a madman to scare people away and I can have peace to be me.
YRB: What was the biggest challenge you faced with this latest album?
LSP: I don’t face any challenge. I never give up. I try and try again. If I try and don’t work, I try another one until I find one that do. If I try and it don’t work, I don’t cry—just keep trying.
YRB: What have you been working on lately?
LSP: I’m working on a new album. I’m working on something with a new livication with no dedication. I don’t dedicate anything to anybody. I livicate things. I don’t drink anything dead, I don’t eat anything dead. I believe in life. What do you believe in?
YRB: I believe in God.
LSP: God is life and God is death also. When you believe in God, you don’t have to fret. Anything you want, God will let you get. Believe in God and Moses’ rod and everything that you don’t have, God will let you have, no problem.
YRB: What do we have to look to in the future?
LSP: Love, peace, unity, harmony, good love, good energy, happiness and blessing. I cannot die. I cannot lie. I can fly. I cannot dead. God will not let me die. I cannot drown. God will not let me drown. I cannot lie. God will not let me lie. And I can fly. Good luck, good health, good energy. If you think human being cannot be perfect, change into an angel and become God’s angel and you will be perfect. An angel of God cannot make mistakes.
YRB: Is there anything you wanted to add for people to know?
LSP: Good luck from Ice Age, from the animal of the jungle and good luck from the birds and fishes. Good luck from King Neptune and the African jungle. I love you all. My name is Lee “Scratch” Perry. Amen. You ask perfect questions and I have no doubt that you are perfect. All people who are perfect learn to listen because when you listen, you learn what you want to know. When you seek you shall find. The black shadow in the moon, room and sky is Lee “Scratch” Perry.