“King of the Dancehall” Star Kreesha Turner Talks Music And Her TIFF 2016 Film
With signature hits like 2008’s Don’t Call Me Baby and 2015’s Sexy Gal, Jamaican Canadian songstress Kreesha Turner has already made an impression with her powerhouse voice. The 31-year-old singer-songwriter may have ruled the airwaves with her hit singles, but she has now made her film debut. Turner stars in the Nick Cannon’s new musical drama film King of the Dancehall, which premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival today.
We spoke to the recording artist, who was born in Edmonton and raised partly in Jamaica, about her grand entrance on the silver screen. The warm and passionate Turner, who plays femme fatale Kaydeen in the new dancehall flick, could not be more different from her scheming and evil character. From the similarities between acting and music to her favourite source of inspiration, Real Style sat down with the performer for an in-depth look at her latest creative venture.
Real Style: What can you tell us about your new film King of the Dancehall?
Kreesha: King of the Dancehall is about the subculture of dancehall dancing. Dancehall is a genre of music which is kind of a subgenre of reggae. In the dance culture that is associated with it, the best example I can give is the B-boy world, where they have their crews and they battle and break. In the dancehall world, we have crews and they battle. It’s part of the entire culture surrounding dancehall.
This movie is a dance movie, but of course it has a love story associated with it. It’s directed by and starring Nick Cannon. There are some other amazing actors and actresses involved. Whoopi Goldberg is in it, Louis Gossett Jr., Peter Stormare, Busta Rhymes, myself, Collie Buddz and every Jamaican artist! Beenie Man actually narrates the film; Ky-Mani Marley is in it and Barrington Levy and Sean Paul make appearances. Everybody we could get as part of the dancehall community definitely had some involvement.
Real Style: How was the experience of working with Whoopi Goldberg, Nick Cannon and the rest of the cast?
Kreesha: It was exciting, because I love to surround myself with people who are the best at what they do. My idea is I want to be a sponge and absorb everything they to teach, experience their energy, view them in their element and have the opportunity to ask them questions. With such veterans in this film industry, I definitely had the blessing and opportunity to be around them.
Real Style: Can you relate to your character Kaydeen in the film?
Kreesha: My character is the polar opposite of me. I’m the lead female antagonist, so I’m a villain. That was part of the challenge, that is what made it so much fun. I remember after finishing filming saying “Oh my God, people are going to hate me after this” because I cause a lot of trouble! It’s an opportunity to have a release of your inner devil.
Real Style: What are the biggest differences between acting and your music career?
Kreesha: It wasn’t that big of a leap, in the sense that I’ve always felt acting is a part of music. Especially as an artist who has been signed to one of the majors throughout my last ten years, you don’t always get to write your own music. I’ve been given songs. When you’re given a song, it’s my job to record the lyrics, story and emotion, and make everyone who is listening to the song believe that it was my words and experience. That acting element has been there, especially in the comparison of me being given a record that I didn’t write.
Real Style: Describe some of the challenges of the Canadian music industry.
Kreesha: There are so many challenges. I’m a Canadian Jamaican. For me, I carry my Jamaican element into my music in my more recent releases. I’m definitely trying to incorporate a Caribbean and reggae element. Every place has its own challenges. In Canada, we have blessings like grants, but we also have curses in the sense that when you start to do more urban classified music, we no longer have a single urban radio station left. Everybody is Top 40 now. We don’t have the same vehicles to get our music heard by the masses in America.
Real Style: Where do you find your creative energy?
Kreesha: I’m inspired by everything that I encounter, from the environment to people to other songs, movies and artists. To me, the creative inspiration is endless and coming in all sorts of different directions at all times.
Real Style: You mentioned that the environment is inspirational to you. What are some of your favourite locations and natural settings for creativity?
Kreesha: I would be lying if I didn’t say that the most inspirational place for me is Jamaica. It’s an island that is filled with so much culture. It is so musical, diverse and so extreme, from people singing in the streets to dancing. It is just one of those places that has so many stimulating factors in everyday existence. It definitely feeds me, my creativity and my soul in so many ways.
[Kingston, Jamaica] is the city, it’s not a beautiful beach. But at the same time when I go to Jamaica, that’s the only place I want to go. It’s where the culture is its richest. Or if you have the opportunity, you can go to the North Coast and go to Montego Bay. That’s where you get the beauty of the miles of beaches and beautiful resorts.
By: Roderick Thedorff
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