One Sea, Digital Album Download
Family dynasties, there are plenty of those in music. Whether it’s the Marley’s, the Buckley’s or the Jackson’s, we can all name our favourites. The group I am writing about today, Florida based Root Sea, has a strong family aspect to it. They may not be as famous as the names above, but the family influence is very much part of who they are.
Root Sea are made up of two friends, Michael Stauch and Joshua Shaw. Joining them are Michael’s son Noah on drums and Joshua’s daughter Kendall Brooke on vocals. Their new album is called ‘One Sea’ and features themes close to their hearts. Whether its ocean conservation, the use of medical cannabis or the traditional themes of love and loss, it is very much a personal home grown set.
Reggae in Florida
I caught up with Michael to find out a little more about Root Sea, what influences them and to try and get underneath those potentially tricky family dynamics. First up, to help set the scene, I asked Michael about the reggae scene in Florida and how Root Sea fits in?
“The reggae scene in Florida is vibrant and varies some from city to city and community to community. The growth of reggae rock in recent years has seen a change in focus away from roots reggae and a more traditional sound and message, but it’s still good to see the growth and rise in popularity of reggae. Root Sea strives to achieve a more roots and dub-based sound which here in Florida being so close to the music’s origin and community is as popular as ever. So, for every new reggae rock band there is a new roots, dub or dancehall artist as well regardless of its commercial coverage.”
One of the things that drew me to Root Sea was that they have steered away from the ‘reggae rock’ sound that Michael mentioned. It’s not my personal cup of tea and unfortunately it seems to dominate my press release inbox at the moment. The track ‘Give the Medicine’ is a good example of how they try and follow a more traditional groove. This is pure roots, a heavy reggae beat with a strong social message. If you are reading this then I guess you are probably sympathetic to the song’s message for the legalisation of cannabis for medical purposes. It’s music with a commendable personal message and not a rock guitar solo in sight!
Strong social messages
I next asked Michael what it was about reggae music that got him hooked, not surprisingly the recurring social message theme was important.
“Reggae is message oriented music with a purpose pure and simple! Root Sea tracks are no different and messages stem from protecting the ocean and marine life to cultivation of medical cannabis. Aside from its message, we are all drawn by reggae’s infectious rhythm and pulse and the artists who have come before.”
Thinking about the artists who have come before, the track ‘Programmed’ is a good example of what Michael talks about. I can hear some strong reggae influences in there, it sounds to me like a lost Dub Syndicate track. They also include a track called ‘Tribute to the Farmer’ which pays homage to the classic Peter Broggs tune ‘International Farmer‘. The ever present ecological message strand jumps to the fore. Conservation, ethical food, it all runs through these songs and this album. It’s good to hear this antidote to the rampant consumerism and greed we have in today’s society!
Moving onto the family aspect of the group and reggae ‘dynasties’. As both Michael and Joshua have a son & daughter respectively who are part of the group, I wanted to know what this family bond brings to Root Sea.
“Having two of our children in the band is great and a natural progression! Having played and toured for years prior to Root Sea with another reggae band, my son was thrust into a musical family. From different instruments all over the house to going to sound checks as a toddler, he was immersed from the start in music. Likewise, Joshua’s daughter Kendall also had a musical upbringing from performing at a young age to attending the Douglas Anderson School of the arts in high school.”
The obvious question came to mind about whether having children in the band causes any problems, creatively or otherwise?
“There is always going to be at times some tension in a band whether creative or otherwise but we’d rather go through that with family than a stranger. They are both still young and have a lot of opportunities coming their way so both Joshua and I are just happy to have this current time to work and perform with them.”
Listening to ‘On This Journey’ I like the line that talks about different journeys and paths, I suppose that is apt for a family orientated group. As I have found in life, your children must follow their own paths. You can set them up with the right social tools and skills, but ultimately it’s up to them to motivate themselves. If nothing else Root Sea will offer a good musical grounding for the younger members, it will be interesting to follow their careers.
Moving onto one of the stand out songs ‘Fabric’. It has a melancholy feel to it and seems to talk about loss. I asked Michael whether the poem it was formed round had any particular personal significance.
“The last track on the album ‘Fabric’ is an adaptation from an Erin Hanson poem ‘Skyward’ and certainly does have a melancholy feel. It is about loss and has personal significance for some band members.”
I didn’t press for details here as the song obviously has a deeper resonance for the band. As listeners we try and read between the lines and second guess what artists are singing about, it’s part of the fun. Ultimately musician’s write for themselves and this was a case where it wasn’t appropriate to intrude!
Finally and not wanting this to sound too like a job interview question! I asked what was next for Root Sea, and what ambitions they have for the group.
“We are looking to increase our shows and tour if the right opportunity presents itself. We want people to hear the ‘One Sea’ album and issues being addressed from the benefits of cannabis to protecting our Ocean and marine life. Plus we will continue to record as we have several new tracks since the release of ‘One Sea’ that we are excited to release in the future!”
Reggae, the right way
There you have it, Root Sea are a reggae group with a strong work ethic, a strong socially positive message and have a desire to do roots reggae the right way (my personal opinion!). I hope this short showcase of their work helps to promote their worthy messages. The album is a very good collection of reggae tracks and really worth checking out. Follow this link to buy a digital copy of the album, if you like streaming then check out Spotify. Finally if you are in the Florida area check them out live, more details can be found at their website. If I wasn’t 4,300 miles away I certainly would.
I hope you like this interview, let me know in the comments what you think of the band and their work. Is this the way reggae should be played? Social media shares are always appreciated so please click those Facebook and Twitter buttons.
Cheers, Paper Lion