They have been at it for less than two months, but there’s no stopping the team at the city’s newest community media outlet, which so far has compiled an impressive catalogue of on-line television shows featuring a line-up of influential Montrealers telling their stories and speaking about community developments.
These shows are just one part of a media platform envisioned by a self-trained sound engineer who goes by the name Rasbagle (he was born Sean Clarke) and came to Montreal from Jamaica via Toronto with a mission to help local artists get the most out of their creative and at the same time inject a new dose of enthusiasm among the youth in the city.
Already performers, other creative types and supporters have banded around Rasbagle in a newly-formed organization they call ACAM (Afro Canadian Arts and Music) and have put together a state-of-the-art professional recording studio housed in a building in the Ville St. Pierre area from which they hope to spawn a new generation of local artists who will benefit from the high quality recording, mixing and pre-production and support services offered out of the place.
Much of it takes place under the guidance of Rasbagle who learned everything there was to learn in sound engineering from his uncle at the Sonic Sounds Studio around the Kingston area in Jamaica before setting out on his own working with many of the country’s biggest performers, including Beres Hammond, Capleton and others.
He also spent six years touring 21 countries as lead sound engineer with South Africa’s world renowned Umoja Dance Company.
He left the group in 2013, and after a brief stopover in Toronto he moved to Montreal a year or two ago and senses that there’s a pool of artists here that will benefit from his mission to help them go as far as their talent and drive will take them.
To make it happen, he almost single-handedly built the sprawling studios, doing the wiring and installing the equipment himself across what seems to be an entire floor of the nondescript building.
The location also includes a kitchen that becomes very important on the weekend, especially for Fish Fridays, when Chef Gary comes up with a variety of fish dishes. Then there are sitting rooms and a performance area they call the Vault, where every weekend aspiring and emerging artists perform in front of live audiences.
It’s all part of the master plan, says Rasbagle. “First we work on the music in the studios, then we move the artist to the Vault where they get to test it in a performance-style setting.”
There is a reason why those around him call him the ‘Mad Scientist’. Just from observation his knowledge of sound and recording techniques honed by 20-something years at various levels of the industry makes it all look easy as he navigates the various projects that are taking place at ACAM.
So whether he is in studio recording, mixing or any other pre-production work, it’s easy to tell that he’s in charge and knows what he’s doing. Same is true when he is directing the daily interviews or the weekly performances at the Vault.
His success, he says, comes from working with the people around him.
“I try to teach them as much as I can and we all grow.”
He’s very complimentary about his collaboration with his business partner Carl Crosdale, Fatta Rex as they call him, whose extraordinary talent as an artist is evident by his many works of art that adorn certain areas of the studio.
He works closely with a community personality known far and wide around Montreal as “Justice”, who is the resident host of ACAM TV and front man of all its on-line productions. He shares the mike with Alicia Reid, known on the circuit as Starr.
Justice’s connections in Montreal are legendary and he is primarily responsible for bringing in a steady line-up of celebrities and community types to appear on the shows that are being streamed on-line every day.
Among the mega voices that he’s had sit with him in front the camera are recording executive Donald Robbins and his radio personality wife Isabelle Racicot, ex–president of the Jamaican Association of Montreal, Noel Alexander and current leader Mike Smith, financial literacy hefe, Brian Smith, politician Tyrone Benskin, community radio personalities Howard Stretch Carr and Pat Dillon Moore and CommunityCONTACT columnist Yvonne Sam.
Together, Justice and Starr in their own way have been able to engage this diverse group of personalities and produce interviews that are folksy but informative and entertaining.
Peering into the future both Rasbagle and Justice are confident that what they are doing will help to prop up Montreal’s shaky reggae scene.
Rasbagle sees the emergence of a core group of young artists who stand to benefit from opportunities that he and the ACAM team are putting in front of them.
Justice says reggae is benefitting from the weekly spotlight that’s being focused on it by ACAM, but real success will stem from how well the group and the artists connect with the community and make by making them feel part of the project.
Check it all out at: facebook- ACAM or facebook- Vault Sundays.