Five Questions With Chino McGregor

There’s a mysterious air about Daniel ‘Chino’ McGregor as he sits around a small studio setup awaiting the guests who RSVP’d to be part of an intimate virtual listening session for his latest project, Process earlier this week. It’s an apt title. The project has been in the making for more than a year and is spearheaded by the title track, which was released in January 2020. He uses three words to describe the entire process of getting it together: innovation, motivation and inspiration.

“I released a lot of singles in 2020 and could not let the featured tracks fall on deaf ears. Also [I] figured, a full-length project from me was long overdue,” Chino tells The Gleaner. Though initially deciding to compile a full-length album, the entertainer eventually took the route of creating three volumes, seven tracks each.

“If persons listen to my three previous albums in comparison to the most recent project they will definitely see growth in the subject matters, delivery, production and overall approach,” Chino says, while at the same time, not giving up a chance to point to his family’s musical history and the rich knowledge he has gained as one of the crew members of a ‘ship’ — Big Ship — that is always sailing the uncharted waters of the music business.

“I definitely owe my success to that, and overall to my making smart decisions, however, I have to credit that approach to my father [Freddie McGregor] who has always been a shrewd businessman with decades of experience in the industry. He passed on the knowledge of the business of music to us simply by being the vocal person he is and also through observation,” the young McGregor explains.

Known to be full of vivid anecdotes and a clever wordplay ‘from morning’, Chino has managed to remain authentic to his true self while embracing the changes as music production and technology evolves. He’s given reggae and dancehall timeless tracks like From Morning, Pon Yuh Head, Ruff It Up and Boring Man, and has no doubt that he can contribute much more. He speaks with The Gleaner in this week’s Five Questions With...

1. You wear many hats, from recording artiste and songwriter to executive producer and even role model to up-and-coming talents in the reggae and dancehall fraternity. Is there any particular role that you find to be the most enjoyable, and why?

I would say, recording artiste. I like the challenge and rewarding feeling of sitting in the studio without a premeditated idea and coming up with a solid composition that in the end, not only sounds good, but also has a major impact on the lives and minds of people near and far.

2. Do you feel more pressure now at this stage of your career to produce and release premium projects? If yes, what’s the reason for this and if no, how do you manage to escape the pressure?

It’s a little of both, in the sense that I feel musically misunderstood, especially on the local scene. I know I have way more to offer and there are a lot more layers to me musically that many don’t really recognise or get to see and I’m sometimes placed in a box as a typical ‘dancehall artiste’. So, I see the need to produce more out-of-the-box projects to prove that point. While on the flip side, I escape that pressure by trying to stay true to myself and do what feels good to me, at my own pace, knowing that people always expect whatever I produce to be of a particular quality and calibre.

3. Streaming numbers have increased significantly over the past two years. How do streams of your older music (five years and older) compare to those released from 2016 to 2021?

Well, I’ve been blessed to have had timeless hits in an era that undeniably helped to reshape the outlook of our music . That era now falls under the category of ‘classic reggae/dancehall’, which is heavily streamed by both the older and younger generations. The newer songs do well also, but there’s always heavy listenership of the classics.

4. Your birthday (February 12) is fast approaching. Since it is on the weekend of Valentine’s Day, do you usually celebrate the two occasions in one and considering the global health crisis, how do you plan to do so?

My older daughter’s birthday is on February 14, so I don’t particularly celebrate Valentine’s Day; that day is to celebrate her. For the past few years, especially I’ve been celebrating my birthday at bucket-list countries or spots. This year, regardless of what’s happening, I might still do the same, wherever it is safest to be of course. There are a lot of beautiful places that I have been to; Japan has always been a favourite of mine. The place, the people, the food and fashion. I would definitely recommend anyone to try and visit if possible, once it is safe again.

5. What is your favourite treat, snack or ice-cream flavour, and is there a story behind how you got introduced to it?

My favourite snack, I guess, would be cashews. I do not think there is a back story… I just love cashews as a snack, but when it comes on to ice cream, my flavour of choice is pistachio.


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