Biography: Jah Chango
Text: Valentin Zill/Jarabi Music Promotion
Good things come to those who wait. Thanks to his musical family, Jah Chango discovered music at a very young age. But it wasn’t until 2012 that the singer born in Nuremberg, Germany in 1984 would release his first EP “Off Beat”. At the tender age of four years he left Germany. His family opened a bar on the Balearic Island of Formentera. Soon, Chango spoke Spanish better than German. And he fell in love with his mother’s well-sorted record collection, with which she entertained the guests. At the age of fourteen he selected on the turntables of the family business.
Around the turn of the millenium, the reggae hype in Germany had reached the little island, and shortly after Jah Chango started to chant on riddims which he had downloaded. When he was eighteen, he flew to Nuremberg to get his driver’s licence. Formentera doesn’t have a noteworthy reggae scene. But in the large northern Bavarian town, Chango went to the Viper every Thursday, the club of a friend of him who organized a weekly dancehall regular. Here, he met German artists like Nosliw and Nattyflo, as well as the Argentinian dancehall and reggaeton singer Paco Mendoza. He visited Chango shortly after on the island to perform in his parents’ bar. The selector of the Club Viper had provided Chango with enough sound to start his own regular, “Formentera Movement”.
This series of events worked well, but since the island lacked a real dancehall massive, Chango had to also play some “commercial reggae”, as he puts it: “That wasn’t what I actually wanted.” In 2009, he was booked as a supporting act for The Wailers. At the same time Jah Chango had started to improve his guitar skills. Together with his uncle Peer “Spliff” Born he founded the rumba and flamenco band Antena Libre. The project soon found favor with the locals, and today it is an established part of Formentera’s music scene. “With Antena Libre I performed live on stage for the first time. I learned a lot there,” Chango recounts. His likable and unpretentious stage presence originated right there.
It had actually just been a coincidence that led him to recognition outside of his little island, says Jah Chango. In April 2010 he discovered a call on a social network by the established band Jamaram from Munich, Germany to send in home made music videos. The first prize were five days on tour with Jamaram as a warm-up act. “I didn’t expect anything,” says Chango, “others had put much more effort into their contributions.” He translated the title track of Jamaram’s album “Jameleon” into Spanish, took his guitar, placed himself in front of a camera and sang. Chango is no man of big words, he cares much more about the message than overpackaging.
He won the voting, and shortly after flew to Berlin, Germany. Despite his experience on stage, he had never performed in front of 1500 people. “I was so nervous that Jamaram told me later that they had had doubts if I’d really make it.” Again, he convinced all along the line. The vibes were right between him and the musicians from Munich. Especially with Jamaram’s audio engineer Umberto Echo he developed a friendship. The experienced producer has worked with big names such as Dub Inc and, not least, is Germany’s most well-versed dub grandmaster.
In March 2011, Chango flew to Munich to record his first EP, “Off Beat” (Soulfire Artists), with Umberto Echo. Members of Dub Inc and Jamaram recorded the instrumental tracks. Rave reviews indicated that Chango had chosen the right path. He still liked the EP, but he knew that “there’s much more to strive for,” he says. But good things come to those who wait. In 2012, Chango became a father, and his secluded lifestyle in Formentera doesn’t ease working in a studio, either. His album debut “Sardinas” finally gets of the starting blocks now. Again, some of the most well-versed reggae musicians from Germany and France are on board the project. And Jah Chango sounds more mature and professional than ever.