The Ellameno Beat
IT is not often one gets the opportunity to interview…
a Reggae band from Florida. The Ellemano Beat, not only provide me a glimpse into the American Reggae scene, but I get to connect with an intriguing group. Hailing from Jensen Beach, Florida; led by singer Reggie Froom, the group combine progressive Roots music and mix it with powerful horns and modern production values. I chat to the guys about new single, One of Us – the latest single to be taken from their record, Surface. I was curious how their new single differed from previous offering, Muse.
They tell me the origin of the band name and what the scene is like in Florida. I wonder whether Trump’s presidency affects them as people and musicians; what kind of gigs they have booked and whether we will get to see them rock the U.K. this year.
Hi, gang. How are you? How has your week been?
We are great!
This week has been very exciting as we have been getting lots of response from our new single - and are starting to make noise about our album release-party in our hometown!
What is the story behind the band name, 'The Ellameno Beat'?
In the beginning, as I had my sights set on developing a band to perform my studio work, I was searching for an Identity. For some reason at this time, a memory was floating around in my head of a fellow classmate in grade school confusing the individual letters ‘L’,‘M’;‘N’,‘O’ and ‘P’ as one complex letter - due to the repetitious rhythm in which we all learn the alphabet.
During a session with my good friend Dave Richards, who currently plays bass for Shaggy, I told him the funny story and tossed the idea of spelling out the combination of letters as if it were one single entity. Within seconds, Dave came up the idea to replace ‘P’ with ‘Beat’ - and there it was!
I like to think that by taking these multiple entities and identifying them as one: the name represents the synergy that is the back bone of the sound we are after.
PHOTO CREDIT: Ashley Kidwell Photography
As a producer and lifelong music enthusiast, I have never been impacted more heavily than by the experience of hearing the multiple elements of an ensemble come together to create the unique, magical sound that is Reggae music!
So, it just feels natural to represent our efforts with a simple, memorable play on words that, in a way, represents that passion.
You all seem pretty close. How did the band all come together? Have you known each other for years?
All the original cast (Reggie, James; Dylon and Walker) grew up together in Jensen Beach, FL - which is a small coastal town that thrives off of fishing and surf culture. There, we were all heavily shaped and inspired by everything that place had to offer.
We’ve all been friends since a pretty young age - being that we all came up a part of a tight, family-oriented surf community there. As the majority of us had been playing music together since we were very young as well, when the time came to start playing live, the band was already formed!live, the band was already formed!
One of Us is the latest single. What is the story behind that one?
One of Us is a special song to all of us.
It’s born of a few very special long, creative, improvisational writing sessions. At the time this song came about, I was experiencing a phase of my relationship that has now proven to have been quintessential to the foundation of my being in its current state. There were tons of thoughts swimming around in my head at this time - and One of Us represents them directly. The cadence of this song inspired me to express my honest love, belief and commitment in the synergic life that I have begun with my significant other.
One of Us is an invitation to express. It is an invitation to shed the weight of insecurity and just be!
It is the second single from Surface. It is a little different from the previous track, Muse. It seems you are influenced by a lot of different genres. Would that be fair to say?
We are all constantly listening to all kinds of stuff!
I hear a little bit of Earth, Wind & Fire on One of Us. Are they a big influence of the band?
As of late, yes!
I snagged a few of their old vinyl from my parents’ collection last year - and have been really digging into them ever since. Everyone in the group loves groovy, funky tunes.
What kind of issues, subjects and stories can we expect to hear from Surface?
We have all grown immensely since our debut release.
Surface is the product of a sincere yearning to express ourselves in our current state. The path that we have found ourselves traveling for the last couple years has given us a (very) unique view of the world we are living in - and has been the catalyst for the massive fire burning inside each and every one of us.
PHOTO CREDIT: Ashley Kidwell Photography
You are donating the album’s sales to the Mauli Ola Foundation. What can you tell me about the cause and how you became associated? What provoked you to donate money/sales revenue to them?
As they say best in their mission statement; the Mauli Ola Foundation (M.O.F.):
“is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing hope and confidence to individuals living with genetic diseases. Harnessing the healing powers of the ocean, we introduce surfing and ocean-based activities as natural therapies. We are honored to share our knowledge of the ocean, family values and community.”
M.O.F. is widely known in our circle and, as we as a band hold the life that the ocean has given to us so dearly, it just feels right to support a foundation that strives to use the things we are most passionate about - to benefit people truly in need!
Jensen Beach, Florida is your hometown. What is the scene like there and is it quite big in terms of music?
Jensen is a small town full of people who love music!
Though the scene has much growing left to do; there are a couple great places to play in the area that lay the groundwork for memorable, energy-filled experiences! We have been fortunate enough to build a large, family-oriented following there - through a massive common interest in music and ocean culture.
How did Reggae come into your life? It is quite rare for a white American band to tackle the genre – or do you feel it is becoming more common and widespread?
Since the beginning, I have been exposed to Reggae by way of my parents and family friends. First was UB40 and, of course, your standard Marley records.
As I grew and dove deeper into the genre, I began to heavily explore Roots music and became addicted to the Skank.
In the last decade, the American Reggae scene has definitely experienced a lot of growth on both coasts.
America is changing; in terms of politics and its people. Is it quite a frightening time living in the 'Age of Trump'? Is he someone who provokes a lot of fear and anger in you?
It does provoke fear and anger to watch one person unravel the progress of so many who have worked in the best interest of our country and its people.
As someone so connected to and concerned about the environment, as well as about human rights and civil liberties, it is difficult to watch the gains American society has made during my lifetime be degraded against our better interests - and the interests of our international allies.
What can you tell us about tour dates and the rest of the year? Where are you guys heading?
For the rest of the year; we plan on touring hard here on the East Coast of the U.S. to support our new album.
Keep an eye out for new tour dates to be dropped soon.
Any chance you’ll ever come to the U.K.? What do you think of British music?
We would love to play in the U.K. A.S.A.P.!
I would describe British music as some of the most creative and expressive music I have experienced. I am a huge fan of The Beatles and the sound they pioneered. I constantly find myself reaching for old recordings from Abbey Road for inspiration and reference - in my mission to manifest the ‘Progressive Roots’ sound The Ellameno Beat is working towards.
Also, I am currently hooked on The Skints! Such an awesome take on our genre.
IN THIS PHOTO: The Skints
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
If you each had to select the album that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?
Reggie: Beck - Morning Phase
That album has led me to more personal discoveries and progression of passion than any other piece of music to date.
As an engineer, I learn something new every time I listen to it and all of its sonic glory. As a songwriter, it leaves me longing for the next writing session time and time again.
As a person, it inspires hope and confidence in who I am - and who I am becoming.
Walker: The Grateful Dead - Friend of the Devil
Every song on the album represents a different time in my life, whether it be good or bad. On that record, there is a song to help me through each one of my qualms or quarrels that I have experienced throughout my life.
Nowadays, when I hear this record, it brings me back to those times and helps me appreciate them and how they have shaped me as person. It goes without being said that it heavily ties into my current musical creativity on a daily basis.
There are so many little moments on that album that have influenced a massive amount of my own original material.
Dylon: Red Hot Chili Peppers - Stadium Arcadium
It makes me feel like going surfing.
The arrangement of the entire album is like no other: such a wide range of sound in one amazing package.
Brings back memories of some of the best years of my life.
James – Sublime - Everything Under the Sun
It’s a great raw introspective into the band and who they were as people and musicians.
E.U.t.S. helps me get through the day to day better than any other album I’ve heard.
What advice would you give to any new artists starting out right now?
Be yourself! As much as you can be.
Express yourself as honestly and passionately as possible.
Finally, and for being good sports, you can each name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
Reggie: Most Beautiful Girl (In the Room) - Flight of the Conchords
Dylon: Bankrobber - The Clash
James: So Aware - John Brown’s Body
Walker: Sundown Syndrome - Tame Impala
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