It’s a long journey from England to Australia, but according to Gappy Ranks (aka Jacob Williams), every mile of it is worth it if it means spreading the message of reggae across the world. As the reggae star points out – if they’re calling you back to do another show, that means you got something right the last time around.
“It’s a pleasure to be back in Australia,” says Williams. “Just getting the chance to come back and to promote reggae music – it’s a great feeling. I love to perform reggae music and when I’m up on the stage I really like to interact with people and give it my all. Music is the best form of communication in general. Reggae music, especially, is the only genre of music that speaks to the entire world. I get to talk about daily life issues and things that pretty much all people can relate to. On stage, I don’t try to act better than anybody else. I’m coming from the UK and the way that I grew up, I learned to know myself and what people wanted to hear and see. I matured by being in this industry and I learned to just go out there and I understand from experience that there are different territories and how people respond to different approaches to music.”
For Williams, one of the best things to happen to the artist so far has been his increasing international popularity, particularly in the last three years. On top of that, Williams adds that it’s been a privilege to act as one of the ambassadors of reggae music coming from the UK.
“As Gappy Ranks, I couldn’t have done any of this without the people in my life – the community, my family, my friends and the lovers of music,” says Williams. “As an artist coming from the UK and having the chance to cross over into Jamaica, it’s been an honour. Getting played in Jamaica and getting respected over there, that’s been a great thing. Maxi Priest is another artist that I can think of who’s done really well over there and who is from the UK, and I know there are definitely a few more from the UK who have been great ambassadors. I’m very glad to be a part of that campaign because there is so much amazing talent in the UK.”
In fact, Williams claims that he is glad he gets to make a living from the one thing he loves the most – music – especially when most of his peers have been nowhere near as lucky as he.
“I’ve had a passion for music for a long time, that’s why I’ve stayed with it,” he explains. “At the same time, a lot of my friends have unfortunately turned to crime or have got other jobs, and it makes me realise that I could have gone into many different directions – but I stayed with music. I was born in London – my father is from Jamaica and my mother is Dominican – so my background has been a very important part of my career as Gappy Ranks. It goes back to how I grew up and how I was from a very young age as well as throughout my years of being a teenager. I had some troubles growing up in my teenage life and that made me get to know myself as a person and to mature. It’s been a great reflection on my music in order to be able to tell my stories and where I am coming from, as well as where I aspire to go.”
And where exactly would that be? Well, according to Williams, wherever his mission to spread the word of reggae takes him. Australia has been a pretty great start so far, he claims...
“Heaven In Her Eyes busted me first – that helped me reach international recognition,” Williams states. “It was just side that showed the versatility of Gappy Ranks, especially having come from London, which is such a multicultural city. I had no choice but to embrace other cultures anyway because of the city that I grew up in. With Gappy Ranks you get dancehall, hip hop, reggae – all in one. And you get the same thing on the stage as well. You’re going to get the full package of Gappy Ranks, a big level of energy but just upping the ante every time. I’ve been touring non-stop like crazy which is good because I’ve been putting smiles on people’s faces through reggae. I am also enjoying the mentoring and the fact that I get to learn new things every day. I am also a Gemini so I am an adventurist! I’m also just a regular guy who just loves reggae music and when I am up on stage I don’t try to act better than anyone else. The way that I see it I am just a regular human being like everyone else.”