Have you heard of Bingiman? No? Sure Snoop is saying he is the reincarnation of Bob Marley, but this man is actually spreading Bob’s universal message. His music has been featured on one of Bob Marley’s documentaries and has stormed the UK in popularity. The one man army spreads the word of love and unity to a generation of violence and hatred. Bingiman answered a few questions for Orange Country Reverb about his rise in popularity and personal struggles to get where he is today.
OCR: Your song “Not Alright” has been featured on the soundtrack for Esther Anderson’s documentary, “Bob Marley the Making of a Legend.” What were your first reactions knowing your music would be featured on such a huge project? How has Bob Marley influenced your music?
B: When I first discovered it was going to be featured, it was a complete shock! I didn’t totally believe it at first. I thought it was probably some low budget YouTube video by some video geek. So I did my research and turns out Esther Anderson was a well known actor and film director and she was in films that I remember like “The Avengers” and “A Warm December” which she co-starred with Sidney Poitier. I managed to contact her via Facebook and she then gave me her phone number. It’s just amazing being part of a project like this, and it being a Bob Marley film makes it very special to me. Bob Marley has had a big influence on most Reggae artists and I feel honoured to be apart of his documented history.
OCR: Reggae has such a full-bodied sound and is instantly recognizable with its upbeat sound. What does your writing process consist of? Do you start with a foundational rhythm and build upon that? How do you manipulate reggae beats for songs that capture more solemn or conscious topics?
B: It depends what the situation is and how I feel that determines they way I write. I could be walking down the road or listening to the latest riddim track that my producer sent me. I’ve been at this on and off for nearly 3 decades so I also have tons of material archived which I go back to sometimes to get inspired or wake up an old idea.
OCR: Is the reggae and ska movement big in the UK?
B: Yeah reggae has a long history in the UK and goes back to Bob Marley and The Wailers. He often came to the UK to record and do business with his label. Also the last generation of West Indians based here, their parents came from the Caribbean so it was a genre of music which they could relate. The Lovers Rock genre was also created in the UK and UK artists like Sandra Cross and Janet Kay made it global. Reggae is still big in the UK and currently it has spread to nearly the whole of Europe with festivals taking place each year like the famous Rototom Festival.
OCR: A lot of people today get consumed by their career and other time consuming passions that take them away from the important things in life. You took a ten year hiatus from your music to spend time with your family. How did that break refresh you and inspire your musical conquests in 2009?
B: Well at that time in my life music kept me away from the negative things which were happening in the neighborhood where I lived. It was at a time were unemployment was high and new taxes were introduced to make things worse. So there was a lot of crime, mental illness, and even suicide. I met this girl from a different neighborhood who I fell in love with. We eventually moved out of my neighborhood to hers. I was still writing lyrics but I didn’t perform anymore, instead I got myself a full-time job, worked hard, and managed to buy my first property with my partner at the age of 22. We had two children together.
After splitting up after 15 years I moved out and decided to pick music back up but this time with a different outlook on life; a positive outlook. I felt I should use my experiences in my music to send a message to all those who are still in the situation I was in.
OCR: What is the main message you attempt to promote with your music?
B: My message is Love, Unity, Education, Ambition, and Self Pride. But not always as I didn’t want to be labeled as a preacher! But I do other types of songs also like ‘Earn dis Cash’ which I wrote because I felt I was being used by promoters and DJ’s as they wanted me to work for no pay. But all my songs have a story as I mostly write about the things that are happening in my life or around me.
OCR: You grew up in Birmingham, a multi-cultural town in England. You must have been surrounded by a variety of musical influences from numerous genres. What different sounds did you experience growing up in this environment? How did this translate in your musical career?
B: Well, as a youth, I was influenced by what my older brothers and sisters used to play and that was Reggae. In school it was Hip Hop and I used to body pop and break dance but I wasn’t that good at it at all. Pop music was also a big influence as I remember listening to the radio in the morning before going to school (there was no Morning Television in those days) so it was Duran Duran and the Pet Shop Boys. Jazz was also an influence and my brother was responsible for that. I love Miles Davis, some of his music has a Reggae-Jazz feel which I really like. But as a teenager I was very much in to the Dancehall and Sound Systems; it being my most influential genre.
OCR: What does the name Bingiman mean?
B: Bingiman has no meaning, it’s just a name I chose to represent me as an artist and that’s all.
OCR: Your third album “You Girl” is a huge hit on the UK charts! You released this EP under your own company “Playora Distribution”. Are you planning on signing up-and-coming artists to your distribution company and helping young reggae artists make a name for themselves?
B: Yes, the song “Love is a Message” was voted number 1 for three months on the Official UK Charts. I release the album myself because I wanted to learn how it all works. I didn’t want to go to an on-line distributor like ‘CD Baby’. Instead I researched where people go to buy my type of music and tried to sell my music there. I also distributed it through common means like iTunes and Amazon plus some international stores in different languages. I also listed it on Ebay for a while which was a huge success with the physical CDs. Playora Distribution I will use to distribute all my own work and any artist who needs distribution can also use my service. I offer CD design, printing, duplication, and Worldwide Digital Distribution for all who need it. I have also partnered with “Reggae Baby Lounge” which is a platform for unsigned artists. I intend to help these artists get their music out there as promotion and distribution is very important.
OCR: What’s next for Bingiman?
B: I’ve just recorded a music video in London which will be available maybe early November 2012. I’m also in the process of writing a new album for 2013. My manager and I are in the process of arranging a Tour of Europe next year. So next year will be busy for me. I have other things confirmed but I can’t release that information just yet.