When asking anyone the question “what is the most important thing in your life?” two of the most common answers one might expect to hear would be “family” or “music”. At their roots, New Kingston lives at this crossroads. Composed of members of the Panton family, their relationship brings an added layer to their chemistry to the band. The result is a show between band members who so clearly understand and care about each other on a profoundly deep level.
Growing up playing all types of venues in New York, the family eventually caught the eye of Easy Star Records, and from there, their careers took off like a rocket. With more artist collaborations than we can count, there are not many in today's reggae community who do not admire the East Coast band carrying the Caribbean flame.
Grateful Web met with the members of New Kingston after opening the last day of this year’s Cali Roots Festival in Monterey to ask them about their music and why they believe in their message so much.
Grateful Web: How does the reggae scene in New York compare to the reggae scene her in California?
New Kingston: (California’s reggae scene is) Nothing compared to the scene in New York City. When we were growing up like just starting music, early 2005, early 2006, we went to to reggae concert every week, and I miss those days. It's not the same anymore, but it's coming back and I love it right now. Artist coming from around the world to keep music strong in New York City.
GW: Your use of “Kingston” has always interested me. With albums named “Kingston University” “Kingston City” “A Kingston Story” etc. I have always interpreted these as concept albums, and by extension have seen New Kingston as a sort of concept band. Have I been correct in this interpretation?
NK: Absolutely, absolutely. That’s the case because we are our own band and write and play our own music. Everything is one thing. Our music is us, and we are our music, so if our music has a concept, it stems from us. You’ve come from far, and so have we, and that’s what we hope to say with our music.
GW: Your message has stayed consistent, but where do you see the next installment of this story going?
NK: It’s going to be a Kingston story. We’ve told you that we’ve come from far, and maybe we need to reevaluate in where we are now, so who knows what it's going to come to.
GW: As a person of Greek heritage, your song “Agape” has always interested me. How did you decide on the Greek language to translate “love” into?
NK: It's funny, our mom actually came up with a name, and we had to look it up. She just came up with it off the bat. We were trying to figure out a title with the message of love overall, and she just said “agape,” and I was like “what does that mean?” And we were like what and doing our homework all together in a mom is a part of this too. And the title is just one of those titles stemming from a beautiful word. The working together, my mom just felt that it was the perfect word and we thought that's it right there... Also, we have a lot of Greek friends in New York.
GW: I have always been interested in your song “You Are Mine” and often have wondered what was the process like in collaborating with Kimie Miner and how did this song come together?
NK: Between us and our former management who also used to work with Kimie, we decided to put this one together. We had never worked with a female (artist) before and it was just an organic thing that came together. When she came to us with those vocals it was just like "yes, that’s it" because she had the vocals, and we had to track and when our manager brought us to the studio (with her) and said “play something” we played that, it turned into this song, and we never looked back.
GW: You have been a band for more than a decade now and accomplished a lot, but what are some venues you still want to play?
NK: We want to play Wembley in London. Madison Square Garden is also on the list. Barclays too, we went to the first Reggae concert at Barclays the year it opened. It only had two Reggae concerts that year, but it was great to be there.
GW: What’s next for New Kingston?
NK: Life, more music, more love spreading, more unity spreading, and good vibes. We have a lot coming out, we have a video coming out soon, and check us out at NewKingstonMusic.com to find out all the intricacies.