VIPER caught up with Valiant at the set of his new video shoot for ‘Trafficking’ with Traptive. The Jamaican singer discussed plans for a 2024 album, his love for the UK and why Dancehall needs unity…

When did you realise you love music?

From when I was born, I loved music. I never wanted to be a teacher or soldier or any of those things, I always wanted to do music. Basically from basic school days, going to high school, I already knew what I wanted to do. I started to do music in seventh grade, I did an official recording of a song. I was doing videos trying to go viral at that time but nothing clicked back then. It was opening doors, it wasn’t hitting but it was opening doors. 

How do you maintain focus at this stage of your career?

Basically just lock off the noise and stay around positive energy. Focus more, work more because basically consistency is key you know, but it’s how you be consistent. Because if you follow the noise, you can’t be consistent so you just basically just focus on you and what your consumers want. 

How do you avoid distractions?

As I say, the only thing that will affect you is if you’re really in tune with the media or so, that will affect you. But if you’re not really in tune with it, or focused on it, it’s not gonna affect you. It doesn’t really affect me, it doesn’t phase me.

How do you stay inspired?

In order for me to create music, I have to be around positive energy, the energy has to be right. I can write about anything once the environment is comfortable. 

You came into the industry with a unique flow and vocal style, what inspired you?

I’d even break it down… before everything blew up, I was trying to basically master my craft because I was singing a different type of way and I was trying to learn to control certain keys, different flows and how they sound different and all of that. So I was teaching myself what to do and what not to do. If I followed people, I wouldn’t have reached so far, so people didn’t really tell me how to do my thing, I just worked and stayed consistent and focused. As I told you before, I just focused, tunnel vision, found some different things to sing about because at the end of the day, you can stay at one level for so long and doing the same thing. You have to change some styles so when you’re changing styles and trying something new for your consumers, it’s gonna be new to them, hearing those things so it’s not gonna be something they like at first but you’re trying it, you get what I’m trying to say? To just try to go over into that category, but there’s a lot of things. But as I tell you, just tunnel vision, you’re not changing your roots, it’s like you’re dabbling to try and get some ears. 

How do you stay original?

I just follow my energy, I just follow my energy in everything I do, pray and put god first and I just follow my energy and what I’m doing. 

What do you think of the new generation of Dancehall?

Yeah we put a new name on it, for me I don’t even wanna say certain things. For me, there’s youths that believe in themselves now and push out more. Dancehall is expanding and the world is getting to see Dancehall more. They were seeing Dancehall before but they’re seeing Dancehall more now. Basically we’re unjuggling now so it’s more of a unity thing to the juggling and that’s why you’re seeing the thing spread more now like Afrobeats. Same way Afrobeats has unity, that’s why Afrobeats is so big so we’re trying to make it evolve more and get more younger generations in the thing with unity.

Do you feel like an elder in the scene now?

I don’t feel like an elder, not really. I just work, I’m not a big brother. 

What advice did the elders give you?

Yeah, they gave me advice, as I told you, they told me to stay focused. One song’s just one song, work, work and it’s not all the time you’ll find a hit song but you can find songs that people love. 

Which song’s success surprised you?

Ahhh, ‘Speed Off! I never believed in it, I just had it and he said he wants to release it so we did a video and we just did it to get rid of it. I never believed in it. Don’t take advantage of your song, it’s affective in many ways but the reason why as an artist or a creator, you may say that song doesn’t click but it’s a hit. Your consumer wants a hit, it might not click for you but it’s what your consumer wants. 

Describe your sound’s evolution.

Yeah all over but I remember my roots, it’s what broke my career so I have to stay to it but nothing’s wrong with a little change. You don’t have to change a lot of things but just a small amount of things. 

What are your 2024 plans?

Push new music, pushing products so we sell Merch, remember you sell yourselves and we’re a product, an artist is a product.

What video are you shooting today?

It’s called Trafficking by Traptive Music, that’s one of my team members for Diplomats, Trafficking you know.

What’s the meaning of “As a Diplomat?”

A long time we’ve been talking about those things but since the exposure, everybody gets to really know. 

Do you have plans for a new project?

We have an EP coming out, it’s crazy! There’s a lot of international collaborations, we have some new things ready to drop, we don’t even want to jinx it but we have a lot of things to come. As I told you, we work, I’m not even really talkative, I don’t want to talk about what I’m doing, we just do it. 

Are you recording now?

Now I have a little free time, the tour has finished in January, so I’m just doing some recording. The people that wanted to link up, I’m doing it now that I’m free.

Did you enjoy your time in the UK?

UK is my place you know, London, innit, that’s my place you know love. I’m coming back soon, my birthday’s coming up and I wanna be in London for my birthday. 

Did anything surprise you about the UK?

I just like the sound but they love Jamaica, I love London, South London, everywhere in England, East, everywhere. Yeah London’s crazy, they know every song. Most of the time, if I say I’m not gonna sing something, they start singing it for me. If I run out of breath for one song, they catch it and they know everything word for word, even songs I don’t put in my catalogue and they’re willing to hear my new songs as well. Bristol, Leicester, those are the places I went to, Birmingham, I don’t know much, I don’t know everywhere but if I don’t big up everywhere, you know the style. But I love London, there’s a lot of things [coming], I don’t even wanna jinx it or even talk about it but as I said before I just want you to see it – the element of surprise, so we’ll come with something new, we’ll come with something different.

What’s the best thing about being at a Valiant video shoot?

Food. We’ve done the shoot already so people love the food, I buy food so they love that about the video shoot. ‘Lumber’ is out now, stream it and things, a lot of new music coming out, 450 and Valiant ‘Fate’ look out for it.  

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