Jamaican reggae band Raging Fyah has roared across 2017. You could hardly say that they're coming off of a world tour because this band never seems to stop. They’ve been traveling the world since 2015, and the effort paid off big this year when their third and most recent album, Everlasting, earned a Grammy nod. The band—featuring singer-guitarist Kumar "Kumz" Bent, bassist Delroy “Pele” Hamilton, guitarist Courtland "Gizmo" White, drummer Anthony Watson and keyboardist Demar "Keysie" Gayle—even spread into other industries, designing and releasing a band-branded cannabis strain called Everlasting Kush through Coloradan breeder Elite Organics. Bent, who previously attended Jamaican art icon Edna Manley, co-founded the strain with Robin Schaffer at Rock 'N' Robin's in Fort Collins, Colorado. PRØHBTD spoke with Gayle about the band’s experiences, which range from playing in remote Russia to crafting weed in Denver.
You, Anthony [Watson], and Delroy [Hamilton] had a traditional music education. How has that influenced the work of the band as a whole?
Edna Manley [College of the Visual and Performing Arts] has helped us to be considered rounded musicians, so even though our main genre is reggae, we’re still able to play other genres and incorporate those genres in our performances. In our own rights, we are accomplished musicians, too.
What other genres do you guys like to incorporate into the music?
If you listen to the song “Judgment Day,” we say “On Judgment Day, we will be playing music for the rebels / roots, rock, reggae music.” Also, we love pop music, and we listen to bands like Coldplay. Based on the piano feel, you will hear some of it in our songs. Gospel elements as well. It’s about a combination of many genres that bring all the Raging Fyah songs. People say we’re a spiritual band.
What are the underlying goals of the music you guys make?
In the music industry, and even what’s happening in the world, there’s a lot of negativity. It’s easy to find the negative, it’s so natural to highlight the bad habits and the wrongdoings, so we wanted to make a difference in our music. We wanted to do uplifting music, motivational music. A Raging Fyah song is supposed to reach any audience, basically. I see kids loving our music, I see the grandmas, I see people in our age group loving it. We try to highlight the positivity and remind people of that.
How did it feel to get the Grammy nomination?
It was an elated feeling, we weren’t expecting it. When we were doing the album, we weren’t even thinking of the Grammys, you know? It was surprising, but it was amazing.
What’s the record deal with VP [Records] been like?
We’ve reached markets that we wouldn’t necessarily reach by ourselves, especially the U.S. When we were doing it on our own, we were going to Europe, which is where we picked up a niche market. But with the help of VP Records, [we’ve reached] widespread crowds—the U.S., South America.
How’s it felt going around to places where you wouldn’t really expect a big reggae fan base?
It’s an amazing feeling. We feel honored that we can be ambassadors for those places. In Russia, in Ulan-Ude, close to Mongolia, it was their first time hearing reggae music. They weren’t even familiar with Bob Marley at the time, so it was an honor being there to represent Jamaican culture and Jamaican music. We were playing, like, a ballad piano, [and] they never knew Jamaicans could do [that]—they thought reggae was the only thing we could do. And when they heard us play different genres, they were amazed.
Do you guys plan on touring some more in the upcoming year?
We’ll be opening for Rebelution. January 10 [is the] date we kick off in Buffalo, New York, and we’ll be throughout the U.S. in some very interesting places until the 24th of February. Rebelution [is] a band I’ve been following for years, so to be on a tour with them is an honor. That’s an exciting feeling in itself.
What made the band decide to develop its own strain?
The owner of [Elite Organics] is pretty much a fan of the music because she has a record store and a marijuana strain company. She proposed it to us, and because of the mutual respect and everything, we [made] an agreement. With this Everlasting Kush, it’s significant because the process in developing this strain was all organic. And while developing this strain, our Everlasting album was playing, and it was a magical process.
When I tried it myself, I had an amazing feeling from the strain itself. I don’t know, maybe it was my expectation (laughs), but when I tried it, it was one of the best strains I’d tasted. Even though it’s hybrid, we still got a great feeling from it. The [THC] content is actually one of the highest, reaching up to 34 percent. I got mainly what I wanted. I wanted it to be organic because it’s very natural. We are a natural vibration in our lifestyle, so if we can embrace and promote organic herb, that’s something I want.