EarthKry Band keeping it together for more than a decade
With a name like EarthKry, this band must have certainly shared a few tears and according to its keyboardist Phillip McFarlane, “a whole lot of laughter” throughout the years.
Comprising four multi-talented musicians, who firmly believe that ‘a band which plays together, stays together’, EarthKry’s growth has surpassed the microscope of the local music industry and it continues to evolve.
“We’ve been growing together, musically, and as a family, over the past decade. There is this knowing of each other, inside out – understanding all our strengths and weaknesses and adding to that, we all come from families with similar backgrounds and we have similar values. The way we structure our business, and the understanding we share, has made us last longer than other bands,” lamented McFarlane in a recent interview with The Gleaner.
Ten years plus, the quartet - McFarlane, along with drummer Kieron Cunningham; bassist Kemardo Blake; and lead vocalist and guitarist Aldayne Haughton - became a success story playing a series of small live shows on the college circuit. Formed and fostered within the halls of the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston in 2012, and inspired by iconic reggae groups such as The Wailers and Steel Pulse and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-inductees The Beatles, the musicians all dreamed to be part of the roots reggae revolution happening at the time.
An appropriate title, Survival, was the band’s debut album which was released in 2017 and since then, EarthKry has collaborated with many notable artistes, produced several EPs, toured extensively and headlined shows on some of the largest international stages. The most recent project honours the musical era from which much of their inspiration comes from. Dubbed Dandy Shandy, the musicians played around the concept during the pandemic, when touring was put on pause.
McFarlane shared, “This was a project which was solely for our liking and not done to impress a particular audience. It was really four musicians playing around with ideas; hence a name like Dandy Shandy, it’s a familiar game and a name – well, I know it as sightings – and Kemardo wanted us to find a name to match the theme. It was spot-on. If we go back into the history, Dandy Shandy is the name of a drink too. In every part of the album, through the style of writing, the harmonies and how we recorded and mixed the tracks, we have replicated all that happened in the 60s through to the 80s, an era of Jamaican music, which has opened so many doors internationally for reggae artistes and bands today.”
From start to finish, this project was not about keeping up with the times, but preserving time and the authenticity of roots rock reggae he said. Some of the standout tracks include Ms Mary, Maaga Dog, Soon Come and The Ghetto.
“Another beautiful thing that happened during the pandemic, was all four of us became fathers and we were still able to come together and create the project,” McFarlane continued.
The keyboard player, who had the responsibility of mixing the entire album said that the band is currently picking up the pieces from where they left off prior to the pandemic and they successfully completed a North American tour where two emerging artistes, singjay Rik Jam and singer Janeel Mills, were invited on as opening acts.
Despite what is trending in the music industry, EarthKry’s listeners have reassured the band that pure love exists for authentic reggae and positive lyrics.
“We know the fans ... whether they are in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, Caribbean or Asia ...love the good old pure reggae and a message that will uplift, unite and break barriers. Our EP was number two on the iTunes Chart, it fell off and returned, and it continues to attracts the attention of international media. We have offers to perform all over the world and look forward to touring the globe. There are also over 100 requests for the album to be placed on vinyl and would like to fulfil those requests,” McFarlane said.