Five Questions With … Skatta Burrell
Cordel ‘Skatta’ Burrell is an acclaimed music producer, audio engineer, musician, songwriter, and marketing strategist – widely respected as one of the entertainment industry’s most vocal characters. He has invested time into creating an impressive résumé and continues to strive for the highest. Skatta started out with songwriting, a love that he says does not disappear, but eventually, after his spending countless hours at Kingston’s Celestial Sound Studios, owned by Steven Ventura, a passion for music engineering ignited.
“Benzley Hype of Innocent Crew introduced me to the studio. At the time, I wanted to deejay, but being a late bloomer, my voice wasn’t strong, and I knew I was not going to make it as a deejay,” said Skatta, at the same time allowing a laugh to escape. “I did not see myself returning to do mechanic work, so having seen him (Ventura) work around the mixing board, I decided I was going to be a fly on the wall and sat in the corner every day for about six months observing and learning until the opportunity presented itself for me to record someone.”
The rest is history; the then aspiring music engineer was given the wheel to manage Collin ‘Iley Dred’ Levy’s Kings of Kings production label and worked with Ce’Cile to write and produce the song Changez. They later created a partnership in owning a record label and Skatta’s productions like the 2003 ‘Coolie Dance Riddim’, featuring Pitbull’s Culo, Elephant Man and Twista’s Jook Gal, Mr Vegas’ Pull Up, and Nina Sky’s Move Ya Body, earning him the title of Billboard-charting producer. And he continued to pave the way as a hitmaker. He explained, “When you can sit in a studio session, even if it is to just watch, it is the greatest feeling, and the moment comes with its own joys knowing you are part of making music.”
Skatta has found that his experience in production and the business side of the industry often enables him to take music to new levels. He remains busy and these days splits his time between managing his trucking company Sakbama Haulage, Downsound Entertainment, and Reggae Sumfest and working on new projects in the Downsound Records studio to be released in the summer this year.
See how Five Questions With … Skatta unfolds.
What has been the most inaccurate assumption someone has ever made about you?
The most inaccurate assumption someone has ever made about me is that I have no morals due to the fact that I am an atheist. Let me take this opportunity to point out that regardless of other people’s beliefs, as long as it is in my power, I try to help in any way I can. I don’t do this for a ticket to heaven but simply because it is the right thing to do and people need each other for support.
How did you get into music, and did you imagine that you would be doing what you are doing today?
Well, I can say that the one thing I am grateful to the Church for is the exposure to music. I took a very fun liking to the drum and would sit in church every Sunday watching and mimicking the drummer until I ended up playing in church, which enhanced the talent and an overall love and passion for music.
Do you have any habits you have tried to shake, and why? If you could come up with one habit that could possibly ruin or stall a music professional’s career, what would that be, and why?
I have been trying to break the habit of littering by organising my trash in my home, as well as having a bag in my car to remove unnecessary items. I have been participating in beach clean-ups across the island, as well as being a part of the sustainability team at Downsound Entertainment and Reggae Sumfest this year. It is becoming a passion of mine, and it is becoming a conscious effort to recycle. Procrastination, laziness, and ego are some of the bad habits that could ruin a music professional’s career. The crab-in-a-barrel mentality won’t work. There has to be a togetherness. Recognise and appreciate other people’s success.
What time of the day do you get the most work done?
I work best from 5:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. and then 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. This is the time my creativity flows and is at its peak.
You and Richie Feelings have created a friendship on ridiculing each other. Have you ever wondered if the posts on social media could really scar both of your reputations?
I don’t believe any of our posts can leave any scars because it is all done for fun, and we both have an understanding of this. Sometimes it is better to laugh at yourself and spread laughter to others than spreading anger or fear.
Speaking of fear, what are your thoughts on the growing concern surrounding the spread of COVID-19, and do you have any fears?
I mean, instead of thinking about wearing masks, we need to stress the importance of building immune systems. To catch the flu is easy; there are things persons can do to ensure it doesn’t get the best of them. I have been taking black seed oil for over a year and have found where it works for me, [so I] stepped up the dosage during this time. I also eat meringue seed right off the tree – strip it and eat it. It is very sweet and bitter at the same time, but there are benefits, such as it cleans the blood. I don’t consume dairy, but persons can cut down on it because it builds mucus, and that’s not good for the body in an effort to make one’s body less susceptible. On the economic side of it, I have a huge budget to do marketing for Reggae Sumfest, my trucking company, and an event with Ce’Cile and Penny Bling – all these businesses are being affected, like the rest of the economy.