Steve Weltman, CEO of ZEST Group Plc, spoke to YardFlex.com in an exclusive interview about what Greensleeves' plans are for dancehall-reggae music. This is part one of that interview he did with Claude Mills.
What are your plans for dancehall reggae in the upcoming calendar year given all the complaints that artistes such as Macka Diamond and Vybz Kartel have against Greensleeves?
I am 40 year veteran of music in all forms, our company bought Greensleeves, and we're working on it daily to reorganize the company. When things aren't going right for artistes, it is always the record company's fault, and never the artiste's fault. How would it be if record company began to speak to the media about things that are wrong with artistes. In any debate, regardless of the subject matter, there is always two sides to the story, you cannot make judgment until you know what both parties think.
In Fantan's case, he has a legal agreement with Downsound and we understand from both sides that there is a breakdown in their relationship, until that is solved, we cannot do anything. Our agreement is with Downsound for Fantan. If he is not giving product to Downsound, then it is a problem for Downsound and one for Greensleeves. We believe in Fantan, but we cannot deal with him direct, and that is not me copping out, this is just how the business is.
Gussie's comments are absolutely correct, with regards to Vybz saying he is changing his name. How sad is that! How pathetic is that! If he does try to do a record with another co, he can't because he is signed with us exclusively, I had a positive meeting in May with Vybz, I talked to him about realizing his potential, two records he made recently were OK, but not globally going to excite the world. He is capable of making that record, he needs a complete 360 circle of creative input and if Vybz wants to put a record out with someone, we have to take legal steps. I like him, don’t want it to come to that, his potential is fantastic. We have offered him a new deal, to extend our contract with him. I see a big potential if he wants to focus on making great records, promoting them and take a break, start over again. But is a problem dancehall acts have.
Met with Macka, coming up with ideas for Macka at the moment, she is an absolute delight, she works very hard, she is in a male-dominated genre of music, does not mean there is no room for girls, I'd like to see more girls coming through, it's a male-dominated business,
How can Greensleeves resolve the contractual problems with Fantan?
We're trying to resolve the issue between Downsound and Fantan, but they come to an understanding, and he moves on, then we can help. We have a good reputation, and we're not about to change that?
What about Macka Diamond, her manager has said that a certain A & R passed on 'Bun Him' the first time it was presented to him?
In terms of our future, we're going to make announcements about our polices, secondly, in terms of what you sign and what you don't sign, you can't sign everything. If you passed on it, regretted and tried to recapture, that's understandable, that's the nature of music. Every single record label turned the Beatles down, apart from EMI. Richard Branson's friend, Oldfield Tubular Bells, went to see every major co. in the UK, and at that time, it was 14 major corporations, and eh also saw 10 of 15 indies including Island, and everybody turned the record down, so Richard Branson started his own, Virgin. That's just music.
What is your take on Vybz Kartel?
He's got to sacrifice, stop voicing for dollars, sit and write, the potential in his songwriting is fantastic, he has great dexterity with words, but he's got to make it ambiguous, if you wrote a song about a chair, say 'I supported you all my life' instead of four legs and seat. If you write a song about Glocks, it gets played at three, if you make a video with guns, not going to get shown around the clock, but if you write about the same subject matter without being direct, it takes thought, if you have the right team, anything is possible.