A big smile for Jamaica
Friday, August 06, 2021
|BY HOWARD CAMPBELL
Observer senior wrier
Released in 2013, Smile Jamaicawas the feel-good song promising singjay Chronixx needed to hit the mainstream. Eight years later, his patriotic ode still gets flag-waving fans to sing along.
Produced by Hamburg, Germany-based company, Silly Walks Discotheque, Smile Jamaicawas done on their Honey Pot ‘riddim’ and recorded at Big Yard Studio in Kingston. The day after Chronixx cut the single, Oliver Schrader recalls he and his business partner Joscha Hoffman having a conversation with Donovan Germain of Penthouse Records.
“We told him that we think we have just recorded a hit song and he said, ‘Not every good song is a hit song’. But the following year, he admitted we had been right,” Schrader told the Jamaica Observer.
He and Hoffman were in Jamaica in 2013 to shoot a music video by singjay Torch as well as to voice several songs for the Honey Pot. One of the artistes they were keen to have on it was Chronixx who was riding high with songs like Here Comes Trouble.
“At Penthouse, we asked for a link to Chronixx because we liked (hit song) They Don’t Knowand it was Stumpy (engineer Mark Brown) who called him and asked him to come and meet us,” Schrader reflected. “It turned out that Chronixx already had the song idea for the riddim because he had been at the studio when Lutan Fyah voiced his cut.”
Several of the songs on the Honey Pot including Sweet Killer by Ginjah and Strive by Exco Levi and Kabaka Pyramid became hits, but Smile Jamaica took off the fastest thanks to power-play by disc jockey Michael Thompson on KOOL 97 FM.
According to Schrader, he and Hoffman were so confident they had a hit on their hands when Chronixx was in the recording booth, that they began filming a video for the song shortly after. It is one of the gems of the Silly Walks Discotheque catalogue.
“ Smile Jamaica definitely stands out as one of our most successful songs and is a homage to the island and the culture that means the world to us. I think the significance of the song is that it starts as a simple love song that turns out to be about the country, and that expresses the love for land and people, and still mentions the hardships Jamaica has to face.”
Silly Walks Discotheque started as a sound system in 1991. Four years later, the company began producing songs and in 2001, released its first compilation album, Songs of Melody