Featured in issue 3 of Marker
After four albums and many award nominations (including a Juno!), for their work, Souljah Fyah (Waymatea Ellis, “Sista J”, on bass, keys and lead vocals; Stormin’ Norm Frizzell on keys; Dorant Ricketts, “Saint”, on drums and lead vocals; and Paul Joosse, “Dr. Paul”, on bass, keyboards and backing vocalist) continues to deliver strong messages about positivity and equality through their reggae-based music. They say in their song Abundance, “…No matter the hand you’re dealt with in this life, you’ve got to remember to try….” Life seems good for the band and it’s partially because of how they give back to Edmonton. They see every chance they’ve been given in the city as an opportunity to grow as musicians.
Interview with Sista J
How do you describe your music style?
Our music style is reggae, ranging from conscious roots reggae to dancehall. It’s lyrically conscious, thoughtful, musically provocative, love-based music.
Do you remember the first album you listened to that made you think, “I want to be a musician”?
I’ve been a musician since I was born [laughs]. I played piano and other instruments in bands since before I have memory. All of us in the band have a life-long participation, love and respect for music.
What bands/musicians do you like to listen to today?
Right now I am listening to indie dance music, and before that it was some ambient dub step. Everything from Marley to Mumford and Sons to Mozart… I love music.
What does Edmonton have to offer musicians compared to bigger Canadian cities?
Edmonton has been very good to us and is a good place to grow a music career. The biggest benefit to a budding band here is that most of us who have been around for a while (we have been together over 11 years) want to share our stories, our tips, our contacts. It is a city of collaboration and community, and I love that. The city’s media is beyond supportive, and the radio stations are willing to play your music. Take your pick of festivals – Hip Hop for Hunger, Folk Fest, Cariwest… the list goes on for opportunity. The booking agents for live venues operate with integrity, and many people, including students and professionals, support the industry… All we need to do is keep believing in the live scene in this city and it will continue to grow.
My advice to a new band: hit the pavement. Get out from behind the computer screen and go meet people. Walk down the street and hand out your flyers. Get to know other musicians. Collaborate. Work together! The most important thing is face-to-face interaction, and that has waned with the advent of “imagined interaction” on social networks.
Where’s your favourite spot to unwind in this city?
Favourite spot to unwind… this time of year it’s the most beautiful in our River Valley. I won’t give away my most treasured spots [laughs]… let’s just say that one of them made up the artwork of our third album.
What’s your next big project?
Right now we’re writing new music and have begun recording some new tracks at Edmontone. We keep growing, we keep expanding. We love to play music and think of it as a lifestyle. We have all undergone personal growth and transition in the last year, and I think it’s reflected in the new music coming forward.