“We love to play what we love” – Interview with Lionel “Lazer” Wharton of Jamaram

Jamaram is a German band founded in 2000 in Munich. 8 members, a reggae and dub base that accommodates ska, Latin, pop and Balkan rhythms, more than two thousand concerts worldwide: Jamaram plays at Studio Foce on October the 31st. We meet Lionel “Lazer” Wharton, keyboardist of Jamaram.
18 October 2022
by Silvia Onorato
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© Julie Key

You define your band a “Reggae&Rock&Roll Circus”. Why?
We are a big group and our concerts have comedy, drama, action, loud fast songs and slow peaceful ones. It is more than just music. It is a journey. We travel the world. We are basically family and our shows are colourful and fun. Just like a circus.

Reggae, dub, ska, latin, pop, balkan beats, polka: different genres merge into your music. How did this mix come about and develop?
Our band does not have one leader, we are more like a hydra with 8 heads. Each with a mind of its own and a right to decide on what we play. We welcome diversity and through traveling internationally we have gathered many influences. We love to play what we love. And if a dubstep tune or a polka tune comes along we take it and bring it on tour with us to share. And so our sound morphs and develops on its own.

With an 8 strong lineup, your live shows are a real energy explosion. What does playing live mean for you?
It means absolutely everything. It is our life elixir and keeps us young. During Covid we missed being on stage, so we rented a venue and started writing and recording songs for the day that corona was over. The day that we were allowed to play together in a club for an audience (online-stream), I kissed the stage and knew that everything was going to be alright. It’s good to be back.

Jamaram’s career spans over more than 20 years. What do you think are the main changes in the music scene over these past two decades? What about your own band?
We have seen great bands come and go in our time. Streaming services have been the biggest game-changer. It means that you are accessible all over the world instantly. This is a fantastic opportunity for fast success but at the same time it has become harder to maintain a status. Our personal formula was to be persistent. Constantly recording new albums. The process of recording makes us critisize and better ourselves.

Since 2006 you’ve collaborated with Go Ahead! on different projects in Africa. Could you tell us something about this collaboration?
Our good friend Carolin Bader suggested we try and pass around a hat at the show and collect donations for GO AHEAD. That night alone we collected 100 € and realised we could make a difference by such a simple act. 
Every show since that time we have passed around a tin for Go Ahead. With our donations Go Ahead was able to build a school, pay teachers, give students uniforms and school materials and even finance the bus rides to and from the school. We are proud and honoured to be able to help with such a small effort and encourage other bands to do the same. Help is needed everywhere, always. Find an organisation that you believe in and donate!

Jamaram plays on 31.10 at 21:30 at Studio Foce.
More information: foce.ch

Translation performed

with Google Translate.

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