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Artist Spotlight: Kairo McLean

My ongoing quest to find new reggae music inadvertently forces me to spend a considerable amount of time listening to music that doesn’t move the needle for me. Thankfully, however, every so often I come across an artist that blasts that marker well into the red section at the far right of the meter.

One such example arose recently when I came across Kairo McLean’s EP, Easy Now. Instantly, I was moving my body to the hard-hitting riddims, masterful flow and conscious lyrics. Ahhh, that joyous excitement when you first discover a new artist! Who was this talented musician that I had never heard of?

I learned that Kairo was based in Toronto and that this was his debut release. Impressive enough with that information, but it turns out that he – get this – IS ONLY 12 YEARS OLD!! (Insert head exploding emoji…)

Given this new knowledge, I immediately knew I wanted to connect with him to learn more about his story. Thanks to the help of his producer, Tim Dub, a former ska musician from Montreal who spent close to a decade living in Jamaica, we set up a Zoom meeting. We made sure to schedule it for after school hours — the first time I had to give such considerations when arranging an interview with a musician.

I wondered if Kairo would be reticent like many tween kids can be, whether due to shyness, a lack of introspection, or just general disinterest in speaking with adult strangers. Would this interview be like pulling teeth?

Absolutely not! Kairo was the complete opposite. Affable, articulate, polite and engaging, Kairo exuded the kind of warmth that made me feel as if I’d known him for years. His passion for reggae music came forth through his impressive knowledge of the genre as well as the exuberance with which he spoke about it.

Our thoroughly enjoyable conversation revealed a radiant young man with a strong sense of self-awareness, confident yet humble, and wiser than many adults I know. Clearly, this gentleman has had good parenting.

Kairo is already working on additional music with the hopes of releasing a full-length LP later in 2021. I am eagerly looking forward to hearing the new songs and following his growth and progress as an artist in the years to come.

Check out the interview with Kairo on Rootfire TV at the link below!

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Ever since becoming deeply moved and then essentially obsessed with reggae music as a teenager, Dave has always strove to learn as much as possible about the history and culture of reggae music, Jamaica and Rastafari, the ideology and lifestyle intertwined with reggae. 

Over the years, he has interviewed many personalities throughout the reggae world including Ziggy Marley, Burning Spear, Lucky Dube, Bradley Nowell and many artists in the progressive roots scene.

Dave has also written and published a novel, “The Cosmic Burrito,” a tale of two friends who drive across the USA in search of the ultimate burrito. He plays ice hockey weekly for a recreational team he founded and manages, Team Rasta.

Reggae music has filled his life with a richness for which he will forever be grateful, and he gives thanks to musicians far and wide, past and present, whether they perform roots, dub, dancehall, skinhead, rocksteady or ska, whether their tools are analog or digital, as well as the producers, promoters, soundsystems, selectors and the reggae massive at large who comprise the international reggae community.

You can follow Dave on Instagram at @rootsdude and Twitter at @ElCosmicBurrito.

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