A former school bus driver working in reggae mecca Blackerdreads. A fan of Donny Hathaway, Rachelle Farrell and Bob Marley. An artist who has already been produced by dub legend Dennis Bovell and Paul Epworth (Futureheads, The Streets, Bloc Party,Goldfrapp). Bobby Kray has a unique and impressive CV for someone who only started to take singing seriously after jumping on a karaoke stage at 16. But then things have been moving pretty fast.
This summer he performed with The Dub Band alongside Burning Spear, UB40, India.Irie, Jools Holland, Sway and The Guillemots to crowds of over 10,000 at each gig. The reaction he received from his first foray into the live arena has clearly taken Bobby by surprise:
“ I couldn’t see past the mass of people. I couldn’t believe I got an encore and standing ovation, that kind of thing doesn’t normally happen to unknown support acts”.
It was during his time at the infamous Brixton Reggae store, Blackerdreads, that Bobby was first “discovered”. His fondness for singing over tracks soon started getting him noticed and tales of this skinny white boy who could really sing were quick to spread. Intrigued by rumours of Bobby’s vocal talents, Garfield Hackett and Nnamdi Ogugua (Black Allianz) decided to come to the shop and witness it for themselves. They were immediately sold and asked the young singer, in an ideal world, who he would like to work with. The answer was simple. Dennis Bovell and Eek A Mouse. Bobby went on to sing for both of them, and although Dennis was only meant to produce one single, he has now not only produced the whole album but performs with him (The Dub Band) on the road. Surely a royal seal of approval from the man who has worked with artists such as The Slits, Janet Kaye, The Thompson Twins, Edwin Collins, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Fela Kute , Lee Scratch Perry and Pablo Moses (to name a few!).
But then Bobby makes no claim to becoming a reggae star. When creating the album, scheduled for release next spring, he had no real agenda of how things should sound, he simply went into the studio and started writing. Inspired as much by his parents’ influences – Bob Marley, The Clash, The Police, Fleetwood Mac – and the sounds he listens to now from Tony Matterhorn to James Morrison to Missy Elliot to Classic FM, Bobby has created something unique. It’s little surprise then that he cites artists as diverse as India Irie, Janet Kaye and Kele from Bloc Party as ideal collaborators for future projects.
“I don’t claim to be a Reggae artist but the music I make is Reggae influenced because that’s what I enjoy… I’m still learning about the sounds I like and how to incorporate them into what I do. My musical style is forever a work in progress…”
Bobby releases his version of “Bam Bam” produced by Dennis Bovell and Paul Epworth on Black Allianz / V2 in the new year.