Interview with Pepsin Montse – Maximum Stylez Records and Publishing
We caught up with Maximum Stylez head honcho, Pepsin Montse for a lengthy talk about the Dancehall Scene in South Africa. Maximum Stylez is a record and publishing label based in Johannesburg currently making ‘noise’ and embarking on an aggressive promotion drive to put dancehall on par with other genres in Mzansi. They recently released a video for the single ‘Satisfy My Soul‘ which featured Pepsin himself, stable mate Fruity Star and Joburg’s popular artist Momo Dread. The video made it to SABC TV youth programme and the track got rotation on Metro Fm and YFM. It also took the number 1 spot on Mzansi Reggae Top Videos for 2016. They are ready to launch their follow up video project – ‘Selfie‘ with SFS 5 Star – set to hit the screens in mid-March.
It’s been over a year since you debuted with the Album ‘KBY2Jozi’ – how did that project do?
The Kby2Jozi Project is a great project and it is one of my greatest achievements in life, I will forever be grateful to the most high for it. So the Maximum Stylez Team decided to stop and restructure the whole project and repackage. The strategic plan has changed for Kby2Jozi. It is going to be released differently for a bigger and broader market.
You have now cemented your place in the dancehall world in SA since then, tell us about the events that led to this current situation.
Lol. It feels really good to see our works getting recognition and acknowledgement, however I feel that I still have a lot of work to do to really cement my place in the Dancehall world. We have really worked hard and made efforts to collaborate with other artists and musicians for the benefit of SA Dancehall and Reggae, This has been recognised by fellow musicians, fans and those in the industry. We will continue to work towards making Dancehall and Reggae fully mainstream in SA. So there will be more “works” especially because the plan is to lock it down here at home before I take it to foreign and international lands. Lol. Charity begins at home.
You have spearheaded, together with your team, an entry in the mainstream, especially at the SABC?
Look, as Maximum Stylez Records & Publishing, we have realized that our dancehall market in South Africa is a very small market compared to other countries and it is partly because the media has a different perception about Reggae and Dancehall artists and this particular music genre in SA. We decided to take it upon ourselves to and make it our task to fight for it differently. We started by investing in what we thought was a good plan, We did more research about the music industry as a whole, we put time and energy to construct and execute, what we felt the Reggae and dancehall music required to differently, in order to be on par with the other genres of music. We invested Quality, Relevance, Plan and Strategy as well as a different approach to the media, and we gave a good and relevant presentation to the SABC. They saw it fit to provide us with the platform and opportunity to engage and make a contribution to the music industry, however we still a lot of work to do in order to see Reggae music and dancehall on the same scale as others.
Your take on Mainstream and Dancehall? Why is it so important that Dancehall gets validation from Mainstream?
I think the world has changed and its changing everyday, now we as people, we deal with different issues in life and otherwise, therefore the topics have changed, music has evolved and people are more empowered and revolutionary. The issues that were being spoken about few years ago are not the exact same issues that are being spoken about now. Mainstream in my view, is just to bring music closer a bigger scale of the masses, and Dancehall is Dancehall it gets bigger and greater everyday. Lol. I would like to see Reggae and Dancehall Artists making a good living out of their music and talent. We all have dreams and I just want to see South African Reggae Artists living their dreams through Reggae and Dancehall. Dancehall and Reggae artists need to do what works for an artists and their success so that they find the right formula for them, and then use it for their growth. For me it’s not really about getting validation from “Mainstream”, it’s about what works for you and your success as an entity.
Contrary to popular belief, mainstream overlooks Reggae and Dancehall because of its content and fearless stance in social commentary and not because of quality [cos if that was the case, Lucky Dube would be blasting on all radio stations. i.e there is lots of quality reggae yet it still don’t get played]. So, in order to get airplay you need to tone down on content and just be fashionable. Are you intending to go all out to please mainstream?
Like I said, it depends on what content is to a person, because content is the message you put into your music, it is not necessarily a specific topic. It also depends on how you put it together, if you put content together in a way that interests your target market, you will get the expected returns if you have a good marketing plan to guide and follow. The world has changed and is moving forward at a different pace. If Reggae and Dancehall move within the standards of the changing world, I think things would change drastically – we would probably think Reggae and Dancehall is Mainstream. WE NEED TO FREE REGGAE & DANCEHALL, and let it be Music. LOL. We can’t keep sticking to the same content as if we Reggae and Dancehall fans and musicians are not aware of and affected by about other issues in life that affect others. We have so many things happening in our day to day lives, and around our people. There too many topics to be talked about and entertained. For me, Reggae music should not boxed or be classified to be reggae music because of content. Reggae music is music.
Do you feel that is the reason there is what is now called Dancehall pop? To gain entry into mainstream?
For me, the most important question should be, “What is Mainstream to you? ” I think that is the question we should be asking ourselves, and secondly, is it called Dancehall pop because of its different sounds and different content deliveries? Dancehall music sounds have changed like any other sounds in music as a result of changing eras in music, and its topics and ways of delivering have therefore changed as well. Let’s make peace with it and move on. Let’s keep making music and not politics of what should be said in the content and how it should be delivered. Let’s keep giving the masses what we have, and if they receive well and they like it, let it go, formulas for success are not the same for everyone.
What is it that you think you do differently than the rest? as in what do you attribute your success to?
What I do differently is that, I have a mission to follow my Vision, and my Vision is to make a difference in people’s lives through providing them with the music they like and appreciate. Secondly, I produce music that people relate to, music that speaks to everyone, young and old, We make music for Reggae music lovers and general music lovers as a whole, We make music that makes people dance, and sing along, hahaha! “Not sure if thats mainstream” but we just make music for the world, and not only for a certain community or Congregation. Lol
Last year was quite a busy year for you, talk us through the highlights your year.
Well Yeah! Last year was indeed a very busy year for and the Maximum Stylez Records team. We decided to go back to the drawing board to work on certain areas of development within the Company and our artists individual musical growth. The reason for that was really just to study the industry more and identify the opportunities within the business side of things. We realized that there is an opportunity for impact in the Reggae and Dancehall genre, so we started working on a strategy and execution plan for 2017 and other years to follow. Last year we were more focused on our Production and branding in preparation for this year. My highlights of the year included seeing the Maximum Stylez Records brand growing from strength to strength, We produced and released excellent quality Singles; we shot and released high quality music video, which has been play listed on TV channels and rated one of the best Dancehall music videos, We worked with almost every great and highly rated Reggae and Dancehall artists in The game, from within the boarders of South Africa and neighboring countries, We produced a the most highly talked about Dancehall Riddim in Africa, ( Piece by Piece Riddim ), We signed and developed two more highly Talented Reggae and Dancehall Artists, namely: Botanist and Bun’Pot; We organised a number of successful events; we did Television interviews and radio interviews representing our Reggae and Dancehall music in South Africa, we have been touring around South Africa promoting the Piece by Piece Riddim which we soon gonna be shooting a music video for.
Are you still a solo artist or have you officially merged into a group – Pepsin & Fruity Star?
I like this question: Yes, I am still The Original Raggamuffin Pepsin, a solo artist, however, as I indicated, we went back to the drawing board to check what is relevant now in the scene, Pepsin & Fruitystar, was relevant, so we then decided to strategically work on a joint album and feature other Artists outside of the Maximum Stylez Records camp. It’s one of the great reggae and Dancehall albums that will be released during this year. It is titled “HIGH STYLEZ” by Pepsin & FruityStar. We are also working on a Maximum Stylez Allstarz Dancehall Mixtape, that will be released separately and differently from all the other releases we have done. Maximum Stylez Allstarz consists of Pepsin, Fruitystar, Botanist and Bun’Pot. Watch this space! We recorded a couple of tracks already, and I’m really excited!
Lets talk Maximum Stylez Records.
How do you juggle being the Record Label owner and an artist/producer?
Lol. Well that’s a very challenging one, however what needs to be done, needs to be done for the betterment of the business and the movement. It can be really challenging, but fortunately my Team understands how to work with me in the various roles – when it’s time for me to be an artist, they allow me to be an artist and when it’s time for me to stand up like a BOSS, they remind me that I am actually a leader, and I am leading them.
How many artists are now signed under the label?
We have Six Artists signed under Maximum Stylez Records & Publishing. Tha Blocc; Afrisoul; FruityStar; Pepsin; Bun’Pot; Botanist
What do you have in store for us in 2017?
For 2017 a lot in store. We have a lot of exciting releases to come out, music videos and Singles from our Artists, especially in the Reggae and Dancehall focus, a lot of exclusive events, Big news and Surprises. #MzansiReggaeAndDancehall is regaining its Pride this year.
Last words :
There is light at the end of the tunnel, look and watch, you shall see – One love, unity and one destiny!
Watch out for the Selfie music video by Pepsin & Fruitystar ft Sfs 5Star General.
Piece by Piece Riddim, Satisfy my Soul and Selfie are Available on iTunes and all online stores.
Please follow Maximum Stylez Records and Publishing on:
Facebook page: Maximum Stylez Records & Publishing
SoundCloud: Maximum Stylez Records
ReverbNation: MaximumStylez Records
For more info. Email us at email@example.com
For Artists Bookings: Bookings@maximumstylez.co.za
Find me on Social Media:
Facebook: Pepsin Montse