The reggae diva Ce’Cile has always held some interest to me, not only for her multifaceted talent but what I find to be her perhaps most distinctive quality: genuine confidence to say just how she will romance her beloved, rather than embodying the overwrought song cliché of lady waiting for romance. I wanted to get to know this woman not afraid to show her willingness to assume this active role, which in the male-dominated world of reggae is not so common. We get a revealing glimpse of the alluring woman and artist behind the music, from our written interview below exchanged in mid-August 2010.
1. What are your first beginnings in music? When did you become a reggae artist?
I’ve no musical beginnings! Didn’t sing at church or school. I loved reading and poetry and loved making up stories! My mom loved Anita Baker and I heard Sweet Love and wanted to sing. Subsequently I started turning my poems into songs I became a bonafide reggae artist I’d say in 2000.
2. At present, do you see yourself falling more within dancehall or modern roots? Do you have a preference for either of these camps of reggae?
No preference and I don’t prefer reggae or dancehall over any particular genre of music! I like certain things and being a Jamaican it makes monetary sense to do what u can sell. But I love music.
3. In songs like “Home Tonight”, “Let Her Go”, and “Anything”, you sing candidly about how you could romance a man (rather than a man romancing you). Do you feel you are unique or breaking any new ground in doing so as a female reggae artist?
I’ve always felt unique. Thinking unique makes me do things my way and not try to follow, so today if there’s a particular trend of topics girls are singing about I try to do the opposite. I’m always breaking new ground I think or I try to always be different.
4. In the same songs, your lyrics are confessional—they reveal your own deep feelings and longings. How much of your personal or private side do you feel you show in your work? How often do you draw from that part of you when writing music in general?
Actually very little. “Waiting” was real. “Ride or Die” was real in its totality. Most other songs are pieces of my life, my imagination and my friends lives or a book I read or TV show I watched! Plus I think I’m a great story teller. I’d make a great spy!
5. Who are some of your favourite producers to work with and why?
Jeremy Harding! Nicky B (he’s also a singer). Shaggy/Robert Livingston. Don Corleon. I like real all rounder producers! U can never go wrong.
6. Do you feel there are any kinds of barriers women specifically face in trying to make it as a successful reggae artist? Are there personal experiences you have had related to this you can share?
Yes there are but my aim is to try and break them. If something’s not working for me I try to find a way around it, through it or over it!
7. At the end of “Anything” you laugh in way that can be construed as pleasant or sinister. Was that accidental or should the listener consider it in interpreting the song as a whole?
That was me being me in the studio and it should have been edited out but Don liked it and said he was keeping it in.
8. Do you feel there is overuse of auto-tune in contemporary reggae? To what extent have you been using it in your music and do you have any rules yourself as to how and when to use it?
I don’t use it! I don’t like it! I have one song not yet released that it’s on! The producer used it more as a style but its not something you will hear on a Ce’Cile record! I can sing – I don’t need it.
9. Does “Coffee” have any hidden meanings or messages you can tell us about or at least give some clues to? What inspired a song on what is arguably one of the world’s most popular and appreciated drink?
Coffee is not really coffee its about making love. I’m just a naughty girl and I wanted to do a naughty radio song! Got the idea on a flight to Germany when the flight attendant asked me how I liked my Coffee. I thought like how I like my men and the idea was born.
10. In your music and videos you seem to show different sides of what it is to be a woman—loving, caring, sexy, independent, etc. What, in your view, is feminine? Does every “hot girl become housewife,” as you say, when she falls in love?
You’d have to ask a few hot girls if they’ve become housewives – I’m only one hot girl! Feminine is subtle sexy! Classy! Regal bad ass but not crass with it! It’s like you need to know how to be Beyonce singing for Barack Obama and then shaking it in a bathing suit singing Single Ladies but you can’t be one! You gotta be both! Hahaha
11. What are you currently working on and what can we expect from CeCile in the future?
More singles. New album.