HomeInterviewsSXSW Artist Spotlight: Aleighcia Scott

SXSW Artist Spotlight: Aleighcia Scott

For this installment of 360°Sound’s SXSW Artist Spotlight series, we spoke with rising reggae star Aleighcia Scott. Over a nearly decade-long music career, the Welsh singer-songwriter has toured the UK, wowing audiences at Glastonbury, Latitude, and Boomtown festivals. Scott is also a media personality and hosts a regular show on BBC Wales.

You can catch Scott live at SXSW in Austin, Texas, on March 12, 9:40 p.m. at the Coconut Club Rooftop, March 14, 1 a.m. at the Creek and the Cave Backyard, and March 16 at 6 p.m. at the International Day Stage. In this exclusive interview, Scott discusses her acclaimed new album Windrush Baby, drawing inspiration from lovers rock, why reggae is message music, and more.

Editor’s Note: This Q&A has been edited for length and clarity. Find the full video interview at the bottom of this article.

360°Sound: You grew up in Wales, born to a Welsh mother and Jamaican father. Tell us a little about your background and interest in reggae music.  

Aleighcia Scott: Yeah, so my mum’s family is from Wales and my dad’s family is from Jamaica. His parents came to the UK as part of the Windrush Generation. There’s quite a big West Indian community in Wales, which often doesn’t get talked about. One part of my mission is to take that to the world, too.

I’ve been in love with reggae music basically my whole life. I couldn’t get reggae music to sing growing up. When I was 18, I started recording in London, where reggae was heavily available. So even though before that, that’s what I was listening to, I couldn’t always get the productions of reggae to be able to sing. As soon as I found spaces in London, that was it for me. I’ve been full-time in music for 10 years next year. We recently released my Windrush Baby album, produced by Rory Stonelove in Kingston, Jamaica. We’re just about to tour that, and SXSW comes into the middle of that.

There’s a rich reggae history in the UK. The subgenre ‘lovers rock’ originated in the UK, and I understand you draw inspiration from that.

Yeah, definitely. With the influx of people from the West Indies, predominately Jamaica, coming into the UK, obviously, they brought reggae music with them. It’s like an amalgamation of cultures they did when they created lovers rock. That’s been a massive part of everything I’ve done. Growing up, my family was heavily into lovers rock. I definitely took inspiration from people like Louisa Mark and Jean Adebambo.

You flew to Kingston, Jamaica to record your album Windrush Baby with celebrated producer Rory Stonelove. Tell us about your experience of writing and recording the album.

Rory’s a massive legend for production but also as a sound system selector, one of the biggest in the world. I had a message one day on Facebook, I think it was at the time quite a few years ago, maybe about six years ago. He said, “I really want to do some work with you. I’ve seen some of your videos and heard some of the music you’ve put out. I want to do a project and that would mean you’d have to come to Jamaica.”

At the time my auntie lived not too far from where Rory was recording. So, a couple of weeks later, I got on a plane and then we just started from there. I feel like musically, we gelled straightaway. And I’d already turned up with some stuff I’d written on the plane. We were basically just ready to go. And in the first 18 months, we had a whole album together.

What did Stonelove bring to the album?

Rory’s ear for music is phenomenal. He already knows in the first 20 seconds whether a song is going to go well or not within a dance or within any kind of musical space. So that was really helpful because his production is amazing. Putting all that together then also as a teacher, aside from in the studio, he would play music around. I’m hearing songs that I hadn’t heard for years or had never heard before. It’s just an overall teaching. It was really great to be a part of.

“Hey World” is a song about the changes we face in the world, and the need to come together and work toward a more just world. What was the inspiration for the song?

Reggae is message music and always has been. So it’s important for us to use our spaces to be able to send the messages. I think wherever anybody else is in the world right now, they can relate to things that are going on within our song. Mikey Bennett, who is just renowned for being amazing with any kind of musicality, came to us with that song, and then we kind of just hashed it out together. We thought it was really important for right now, for everything that’s going on.

You also work for BBC Radio Wales. Is it a reggae show that you host?

I have a predominantly reggae show. But we mix genres up sometimes as well. That’s weekly on a Thursday on BBC Radio Wales every week. And then I cover for David Rodigan on BBC Radio One Extra whenever he’s away.

This will be your first time at SXSW. Will it also be your first time in Texas?

Yeah, I’ve never been to Texas before. I’ve been to a couple of places in America, so I’m really excited to explore. I hear the food is amazing. I hear SXSW is amazing. I’m really excited to be a part of it.

You’re going to participate in a Wales showcase at SXSW. What does it mean to you to be a part of that?

That’s really important. I feel like sometimes Wales gets overlooked. There’s lots of us here doing some really cool things. For us to be able to take Wales to the world is really important. It highlights us and shows people that we are making movements.

What can people expect from your live shows?

It’s really important for myself and my band that we give everyone there an experience. We want everyone to feel all the way through the music, not just hear it. I want to give authentic reggae to the masses and just a bit of us in the whole set.

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