- by Nadine White -
Young reggae crooner dabbles in Dancehall but pledges to stick to his roots
Things seem a world away from 2006 when Romain Virgo won the Jamaican talent search programme ‘Digicel Rising Stars’ including a lucrative recording contract. With a level one haircut and a twinkle in his eye, he was aged just 17 at the time – and one of the youngest contestants to ever win the show.
Here in 2013, Romain Virgo is one of Jamaica’s biggest artists with hits under his belt such as ‘Can’t Sleep’, ‘Love Doctor’, ‘Taking You Home’ to name a few. Settling down in the chair in front of me, with the same youthful twinkle in his eye, this star has now ‘risen’ and we had much to discuss about the fruition of his career.
Across worldwide television, talent search programmes appear to be more popular than ever – from ‘American Idol’, ’The X Factor’ to Jamaica’s own ‘Magnum Kings & Queens of Dancehall’ (CVM TV) which has been credited with supplying the Island with a host of fresh talent. Having received his ‘big break’ via this platform, Romain described some of the challenges which he has faced, on his path to stardom as a result: “ I owe my career to ‘Rising Stars’. Talent searches, as a whole, are absolutely great for finding talent and giving them a platform. The only challenge which comes from talent search programmes is trying to then establish yourself as an artist, outside of the show”.
The artist hit headlines a couple of months ago, once he announced his intention to record more Dancehall material. However, he denies that his recent decision to grow his hair and record this material is an attempt at shunning the ‘sweet boy’ image which he had whilst on ‘Rising Stars’ and has been typically known for since.
In any case, this decision has been praised by his legions of fans and his first major dancehall track (on the ‘Afterlife’ rhythm) ‘Scary Movie’ has received mass airplay across radio stations worldwide, despite scrutiny over the video’s gothic theme. The follow-up single ‘Jah Jah Over All Things’ is soon to be released.
Virgo was keen to explain that his current emphasis on Dancehall music is not so much a case of a ‘transition’ as it is an ‘expansion’ of music, with which he’s already familiar.
He has been known to occasionally record Dancehall material throughout his short, promising career such as ‘Mi A Wait’ (‘Tuff Love’ rhythm, 2012). Still, Romain says that he will continue to record the Reggae/Lover’s Rock material for which he is so known.
With a brand new mixtape ready to drop – aptly titled ‘Go Hard 2013 & Beyond’, immediate plans to tour the European festival circuit and perform at Jamaica’s annual ‘Reggae Sumfest’, Romain Virgo is a busy guy. I learned that this leaves little time for the love which he often sings about: “It’s challenging to find the time for love. Some of my love songs are inspired by my personal experiences but most of them are inspired by the work of the artists who I grew up listening to, like Beres Hammond”.
Very ‘Rich In Love’, the 23 year old goes on to sensationally state that he has never been ‘deep’ in love! However he does remain hopeful: “When the day comes then perhaps the love songs will be even stronger!”
After a very successful UK tour in 2012, alongside Beres Hammond and label-mate Tarrus Riley, I can confirm that Virgo is keen to return to our Isles, where he will surely be welcomed back with open arms.