At a time when Sean Paul – the acceptable face of dancehall - has taken over CD:UK and Top of The Pops, every R&B diva worth their salt has him toasting on their record (Blu Cantrel, Beyonce Knowles) and rhythm compilations are being advertised on prime time TV, FYA shouldn’t be mistaken for a gimmick band. They’re reconfiguring the format for pop music drawing on lessons learned from the time before dancehall was fashionable and they struggled to make their mark, the highest grade riddims of J.A. which they’ve been down with since they first started listening to music, and their markedly different upbringings. Emma hails from Harare, Zimbabwe. Tenza comes from Montego Bay, Jamaica. While Kizzi reps for Slough.
“Slough is alright,” opines Kizzi with a smile. “We all live there now, it’s been a good town for us to keep our heads down and develop our music. You know you can step out of the door and there won’t be any trouble. It’s a small town and everyone knows each other” While Slough’s isn’t exactly known as a hit factory, FYA have crafted a formidable album on the downlow there over the past few years. As other British labels will now throw large amounts of money at anything that moves in Jamaican dancehall, Kizzi, Emma and Tenza have been creating the record that is as British as Mike Skinner (The Streets) or So Solid but will have the resonance of Sean Paul.
“Sean Paul has opened doors,” states Tenza. “But really performance wise we’d much rather hear Elephant Man, Bounty Killer (who appears on the FYA album) or Lady Saw. They’re energy levels are closer to us.” While most artists these days just open their mouths and make pretty sounds, FYA have a depth and control beyond their years. They may be digging Jamaica’s loudest mouths for style on the microphone but the slackness and rude lyrics prevalent in most dancehall aren’t on their agenda. “(Elephant Man’s) ‘Log On’ was a wicked song,” Tenza continues. “ Everyone – black, white, Asian – would dance to it in the club, then when they figured out what it was saying, everyone took a step back. Maybe when these artists travel more and experience other cultures more they will become more accepting.”
“We don’t have time for rude chatting in our lyrics,” adds Kizzi demonstrating a maturity that most 16 year olds in her position would struggle for. “FYA show that women can be just as good as man, and we don’t need to disrespect ourselves or anyone else. We’re strong people, we’re a voice of reason reaching out for everyone. And we want to have a good time while we’re doing it.”