Blue Chateau – Jonkanoo Interview
Redstar73 Blog: Please could you tell us about Blue Chateau history. Where was the name coming from? How did you get into ska?
Blue Chateau: Blue Chateau was founded in 1984 in Hamburg. The original founder of the band had envisioned the band as a soul/jazz/ sixties outfit, hence the name “Blue Chateau”, which he thought sounded a little bit “mysterious” and “60’s-like”. With additional band members bringing in new influences and the line-up being completed by a full brass section, ska and reggae became more and more dominant throughout the years, especially in the band’s live sets, but the name remained. Blue Chateau was never a pure ska band though, and the repertoire always contained a blend of sixties beat, soul and even funk alongside ska and reggae. The band split up in 1991 right before the planned release of their first album and re-formed twice in 1992 and 2012 for a reunion gig.
Redstar73 Blog: Your debut single was ‘What a nice, nice neighborhood’. Could you give us some details? How many copies were pressed’ How was the feedback?
Blue Chateau: “What a nice, nice neighborhood” was released in 1990. Strangely enough it did not feature a song by that name though. The A- side was an up-tempo ska song called “I don’t care”, the flip side featured the track “Unity”, a reggae song with strong anti- racist lyrics, both songs had already been written in 1985. I believe at the time only 500 copies were pressed, most of which were sold. The response was very positive and “I don’t care” also appeared on the “Ska, Ska Skandal” series by Pork Pie Records as a result.
Redstar73 Blog: How did you get on the Unicorn compilation? How did you find out about it?
Blue Chateau: We heard by coincidence that Unicorn Records were planning to release an international Ska compilation. We had just recorded 4 songs as a demo, one of them being “Steps in the alley”. In those days there was no internet and no CD’s either. So we sent a demo cassette with the track to Unicorn Records, and they liked it. The demo was only a 4-track recording, so we decided to go into a professional studio and re-record the song as a 24-track recording. The Unicorn release really boosted our popularity, and as a result we received tons of fan mail from all over the world. The song even ended up in the BBC playlist shortly after the release and was later covered by Australian Skanksters “Backdoor Stomp”. They even released an album called “Steps in the alley”. Blue Chateau was again featured on Skanking Round the World Vol. 4 with the track “Nightmare”, which was recorded in 1989 together with “I don’t care” and “Unity” during the same recording session.
Redstar73 Blog: Do you have any unreleased tracks?
Blue Chateau: Shortly after the release of “Steps in the alley” we went into the studio again to record three more tracks, a soul track, a reggae number and a sixties- influenced track. We offered them to Unicorn Records as well, but they were never released. I guess they were not “skanky” enough. In preparation for the release of an album four ska/reggae tracks were recorded in 1990, but never released either: “One Night”, “The Busker”, “Children of the night” and “Caribbean nights”.
Redstar73 Blog: How was the scene back in the 8ts in HH? Were there more active Ska bands?
Blue Chateau: In the mid 80’s, when Blue Chateau was founded, there wasn’t much of a ska scene in Hamburg. There were a few local mod bands though, who also had one or the other ska song in their repertoire, namely “The Meeting” and “The Gamblers”. There was also a ska band called “The Jim 6” we did a couple of shows with. In 1984 “Foxy” was formed. They played Ska with German lyrics, landed a major record deal and released a couple singles then disappeared again. In the late 80’s some more bands were founded.
Redstar73 Blog: Did you have contact to other Ska bands in Germany or Europe? Did you play outside of Hamburg a lot?
Blue Chateau: The Unicorn and Pork Pie releases also opened the doors for many gigs. During the 7 years of their musical career, Blue Chateau shared the stage with many renowned artists from the world of ska and reggae such as Laurel Aitken, Bad Manners, The Beat, The Toasters, Mark Foggo, The Busters, Skaos, No Sports and others. Gigs were mainly done in Hamburg and the surrounding area, but Blue Chateau also played in Berlin, Potsdam (Ska Festival), Bielefeld, Paderborn, Lübeck, Schwerin and other cities in Germany.
Redstar73 Blog: Tell us more about your new band. As far are I understand several members of Blue Chateau are playing with Jonkanoo.
Blue Chateau: Jonkanoo was founded in 2002 out of the nucleus of Blue Chateau. Currently there are 3 former members of Blue Chateau in the band: Mieze on drums, Stefan on lead vocals and Zoran on bass (who played rhythm guitar in Blue Chateau). Since then the band has done numerous live shows and released three CD’s, “Jonkanoo live” in 2004, “Jungle Beat” in 2009 and most recently the EP “Jahcuzzi” in 2015. “Jahcuzzi” also features a new version of “Steps in the alley”. An official video was also released showing the “making of” the song in the studio.
“Yahcuzzi” was produced by Robert Curiel at The Dubcellar in Amsterdam, who also worked together with the likes of Rude Rich & The Highnotes, Mark Foggo and Amsterdam Faya Allstars.
The concept behind Jonkanoo is to perform both own songs as well as cover versions of well- known songs in a ska and reggae style.
Redstar73 Blog: What are your plans for the future with Jonkanoo?
Blue Chateau: We are currently promoting our new EP, which was released in December 2015. For 2016 we are planning a number of gigs as well as a return to the studio for some new recordings.
For more information on Jonkanoo you can turn to:
Redstar73 Blog: Last words!
Blue Chateau: Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think
Enjoy yourself, while you’re still in the pink
The years go by, as quickly as you wink
Enjoy yourself, enjoy yourself,
It’s later than you think