Vibe Merchants offers an insider’s perspective on the development of Jamaican Popular Music, researched and analysed by a thirty-year veteran with a wide range of experience in performance, production and academic study. This rare perspective, derived from interviews and ethnographic methodologies, focuses on the actual details of music-making practice, rationalized in the context of the economic and creative forces that locally drive music production. By focusing on the work of audio engineers and musicians, recording studios and recording models, Ray Hitchins highlights a music creation methodology that has been acknowledged as being different to that of Europe and North America. The book leads to a broadening of our understanding of how Jamaican Popular Music emerged, developed and functions, thus providing an engaging example of the important relationship between music, technology and culture that will appeal to a wide range of scholars.
Ray Hitchins has worked in the Jamaican music industry since 1981. In addition to his credits as a touring and studio musician, he ran a successful Kingston-based production company and in 2011 completed a PhD in ethnomusicology at Leeds University. He currently lectures at The University of the West Indies, Jamaica.
’Working as a session musician in Jamaica since the early 1980s, Ray Hitchins is uniquely placed to comment on the island’s studio practices. ... Hitchins interviewed key studio personnel to shed new light on the evolution of reggae and dancehall, forming the basis for this accessible book. Vibe Merchants sheds much new light on the early days of the Jamaican recording industry ... Honing in on errors in the existing literature he calls for a new understanding of the Jamaican recording studio aesthetic’. MOJO Magazine ’... one of the most convincing and enjoyable traits of his book is the natural familiarity and the deep comprehension with which the author presents how music is actually made, i.e. turned into records, in studios in general, and in Jamaican ones in particular. This enables him to offer significant contributions to both research fields within which his work is inserted. ... Hitchins provides for the first time detailed and contextualized descriptions of recording and mixing sessions, giving an extremely clear picture of how music is made in Jamaica. ... a must-read for anyone interested in Jamaican popular music’. Volume!