It’s about time when “Jah Soldiers” will re-surface and it’s starting with Mikhail, the original drummer of “Jah Soldiers” releasing his new LP on Multivizion Music. Over the years, he has made a transition into production.
I saw a dream back in August 2005 while I was on a trip in London, that I should start a new band and a web-site in Russia and the name just came to me in flashing words – “Jah Soldiers”. That three months trip was very important for me and I came back to Moscow with fresh ideas and a new vision. I was 19 and full of enthusiasm like never before. At that time I was already a member of two other bands – reggae group “Muzungu” and p-funk live band “Clean Tone”, doing shows and recording, so “Jah Soldiers” formed very organically and I found all the members within a short space of time, with the drummer Mikhail and bass guitarist Kirill being the heart of the group. We played music that was a crossover between hip-hop, reggae and soul and the main idea was to stand up against neo-nazist movement in Russia, that rose very strong as organized crime by that time.
"Jah Soldiers" live in 2005
We attended antifascist events, we had S.H.A.R.P. (skinheads against racial prejudice) visitng our gigs and protecting us from neo-nazis who would gather near the tube station waiting for the crowd after the show to beat them up. One of our main songs was antifascist “How Come”.
Interview on antifascist demonstration in Moscow 2005
As soon as the band got started in autumn 2005, it changed the direction of my music, but also it magnified more racist attacks (than I have already faced growing up as a mixed race person), both verbal and physical, as if what we manifested had to be proved by reality. I felt like I was indeed in the war zone. On 5th of February 2006 my bass-guitarist and drummer were attacked by approx. 35 skinheads on their way to Bob Marley festival, which we were scheduled to open. We didn’t get to group together as we all were running a bit late, so they traveled their own way while I came by cab. I was at the sound check at the time of the attack, two minutes later after I learned what has happened I ran to the place and saw my bass guitarist lying in the pool of blood and his face was un-recognizable. I was screaming on the street, I couldn’t understand – “Why him? Why?” and he was only 17 …
We all were wearing our newly printed “Jah Soldiers” t-shirts and the show was supposed to start in half an hour. The attack happened in the pick time around 5pm in a very open space of a broad street with many people passing by. Bass guitarist was hospitalized with broken nose and multiple injuries. We went on stage and the guitarist played bass instead of him, nothing sounded the same without him, I made a long speech, I was devestated, shocked … After the show we went to police office, early in the morning when I came home I realized that it was time. Time to make a change, time to move on. Kirill had to be operated and treated, we had to cancel all our shows that were scheduled afterwards, I couldn’t see a possibility of changing the bass guitarist – the original “Jah Soldier” – I don’t think it’s possible to replace people when you are working in the team, especially in such a situation. I posted a message on our web-site www.jahsoldiers.ru and the forum online, after a few days it was copied thousands of times all over the web, than the newspapers started calling us and writing about it, than major tv channel NTV reported about the incident a week later, only than the case was opened by police. Fans gathered money in support of Kirill and to buy him a new bass guitar, because the neo nazis stole his guitar. However, none of the attackers have been jailed eventually. I was back and forth on trips to London for the next few months to complete my Degree at Academy. When the band started playing, little did I know what chapter in our lives it would open and how it would unleash years after. Now my drummer and I are ready to put our forces together once again but in a different form, I hope that Kirill will be with us, see new music coming soon.
Like Bob Marley's lyrics in "Iron Lion Zion"
I am on the rock and then I check a stock
I have to run like a fugitive to save the life I live
Im gonna be iron like a lion in zion (repeat)
Iron lion zion
Im on the run but I aint got no gun
See they want to be the star
So they fighting tribal war
And they saying iron like a lion in zion