We all appreciate good music. No doubt we’re familiar with the artists, but rarely do we get up close and personal with the individuals behind the scenes—the producers and engineers sweating to bring us the music we crave. I had an opportunity recently to catch up with a brilliant young producer and artist by the name of Gilmore Walters, more popularly known as Real McKoy. We spoke about his record label/studio Trainline Records, his latest productions, as well as his friendship with Busy Signal. Interview After The Jump.
Shilo: Real McKoy… That’s a no-nonsense name. How are you?
Real McKoy:Fine thank you. And you?
I am blessed thanks, and happy to have this convo with you. Not only are you an artist, you are also a producer who’s done songs that are currently being played on the air and in the clubs with artists such as Bling Dawg, Anthony B, Busy Signal. Ok… Who exactly is the Real McKoy?
Well, the Real McKoy is a hard-working youth who has been doing music since I was a juvenile going to church with grandma. I was always around musicians. I migrated to the U.S. at seven years old, and stayed for two years. When I was nine years old I went back to Jamaica, and yuh done know… Linked with cousins and friends and my uncle had a sound named Star Force, in Brown’s Town, St Ann. I’ve been doing music from those times. As a little youth, when the sound string up, I would play the music. I had the privilege since it was my uncle’s sound. In high school I started to DJ—artist ting. I didn’t just get the name the Real McKoy like that, it’s because of how long I’ve been in the music. During the last days of high school the name was highlighted before I migrated to the U.S. once again.
Which came first… you as a DJ, or you as a producer?
I started as a DJ, as I stated previously. As a teenager, I moved back to the U.S., Miami to be exact. After high school I started playing sound systems in Miami. I would go to the studio to get dubplates for my sound. It was there I met Jakk Stereo, who had a recording studio in Miami called Music Warehouse. While at the studio, me and Jakk built a good vibes.
Then I left and went to California because I was tired of Miami. I went to San Diego to play a dance and fell in love with the place. I ended up staying a year and a half. While there, Jakk called me and asked what I was doing. He asked me to check out some equipment in California, and asked if I was coming back to Miami. He said he needed a second in the studio because things were getting hectic. Two months later I went back to Miami and called Jakk. He told me to come check him when I returned. I packed my stuff in Cali, had them shipped and so began my career as an engineer. Producing came about seven years after the engineering. I produced tracks for Ky-mani Marley, Glen Washington, Sanchez and many more artists.
Shilo: Which do you enjoy more, being a producer or being an artist?
I love them both equally. Personally, producing a song to me is like I am the one singing it. Same love. I enjoy it all. I engineer and mix as well. I do it all and enjoy all of it.
Do you write all your material? And do you write for other artists as well?
Yes, I write all my own material. Sometimes a man will punch a line in one of my songs, but on a whole, I write my own songs. I have never really written anything for anyone. I have input, yes, but I can’t really say I have written a song for anyone.
You own a studio here in Florida—impressive. Tell us about it.
I have owned my studio here in Florida for ten years. Mixing Lounge was the original name. Now it’s Trainline Records. We mix, master, record, make beats and we rent out the studio occasionally on appointment.
When you were growing up who were your musical inspirations?
Well, as a youth we looked up to Shabba Ranks, Yellowman, Brigadier Jerry, Sizzla and so on. It wasn’t the hip-hop. It was always reggae. I have the roots embedded in me from long time.
Reggae lovers received some really great news recently, regarding Busy Signal’s pending release from jail on November 21st. We’re all overjoyed, but this news means much more to you than many. Tell us why.
Well, it means a lot to me. Busy and I come from far. From nothing. I feel good. I feel nice because he is a real youth and I am happy to know that he will be out in November. The cloud has been removed from over his head. Remember I mentioned I was from Brown’s Town, St Ann… Well Busy is from the same place and we grew up together there as children. Like brothers. We went to school together, ate out of one pot. Real family. We played cricket and all a dat. Busy is a little older than me, an inspiration in my life…a bigger brother. I look up to him. He migrated to the states in December 1995, and he came to me the morning he was leaving and said, “yuh know seh a today mi a fly out.” He took my number and encouraged me to stay out of trouble and gave me some brotherly advice.
We kept in touch through the years. When I came to Miami he was still living in Connecticut. When he found out I was a producer, he was surprised because I never mentioned it to him. He found out when Bling Dawg mentioned my name to him and asked if he knew me. Busy told him I was like his little brother. We spoke and I told him about the studio and so on. Even before this unfortunate incident a few months ago, I told him about some riddims. I asked him to voice and he told me I didn’t have to ask. He said we were both brothers, just ‘sen riddim.’ That’s how both he and Bling Dawg ended up voicing on the ‘Bing’ riddim.
Busy Signal “Any How”
The Bing Riddim is the riddim I am most familiar with. That’s an impressive line up of artists. Talk about this project, the artists involved and any future projects we can expect from you.
Well, on the Bing riddim we have Busy Signal, Anthony B, Bling Dawg, Kirk Thuglas, Pressure, Neziah, Dilly Chris, Fernando Feddichini and yours truly. Prior to the Bing riddim, I had a one drop riddim called Mended Hearts and currently I am working on a one drop and a dancehall riddim featuring an assortment of artists.
Let me put you on the spot for a second. As a producer, how do you see the state of our music production wise? And as an artist, what advice would you give to your peers with regards to the continuous drama and “pickney” vibes that dem love fi keep up?
Production wise the music good. Music nuh guh for some people, so dem complain. Every producer does his/her thing differently. As to the drama, this has been going on long time. Older artists complain but they kept up the same thing back then. People love hype. Artist have to eat so if they realize that the hype sells, the artists are going to give the people what they want. It’s coming from the head of the stream. Fans are in the stream. Fans want hype, DJs will play hype because that’s what the fans want. Of course there are good music and artists and fans wanting to hear good music. However, if a DJ play ten I Wayne, the fans want to hear thirty Kartel. Can’t blame the artists. The good music is there. The disc jockey dem need to play the good music. Can’t blame these new artists though, because they said said Shabba and Yellowman was vulgar back then too.
So right here is where I usually let the person I am speaking with… speak! Tell us anything you would like us to know that I might have neglected to ask.
Basically, people need to know good music is being produced. Music will never die. Reggae is our music and we have to keep it up. Music is life, we have to appreciate it. If they want the foolishness to stop… stop it at the head. Look out for Trainline Records and all we are bringing. Look out for me as an artist. Look for the ‘Swagg Valley’ riddim coming your way October. And yuh done know when Busy come out……. shhh!!!