Mike, Trojan records just released a double album ('Living My Culture', red.) with some of your older material mixed with some newer tracks on it. On top of that you have a new album out called 'Rise Up'. It seems that Mike Brooks is totally back in the picture.
Mike Brooks: "Well, I've never been out of the picture really (laughs). Over the past years I did some good stuff, but ever since I started at Channel One, I never really put myself forward as a singer. However, I took control of things and now I'm focusing 100% on Mike Brooks. I do a lot of producing too. I just have an album out that I produced for Anthony Johnson ('I'm The One', red.) and another one with Castro Pink (10" 'Lilly Of The Valley', red.). On top of that there's a DVD out there where I mixed reggae and dancehall with hip hop and R&B ("Bad Boy", red.). And like you mentioned, there's my own new album 'Rise Up'. I'm not going to tell you more about that one because I want the listeners to judge for themselves. I don't fear critics."
It's been said that your voice is quite similar to that of the late great Curtis Mayfield. Is that who you would cite as your main influence as a singer to?
Mike Brooks: "I had a lot of influences when I grew up as a boy in Jamaica. What Curtis Mayfield is concerned; I'm certainly not the only one to cite him as an influence. People like Pat Kelly, The Uniques or The Clarendonians were all influenced by him (as was Bob Marley, red.). Curtis was one of my idols. I adored his way of singing and I still met him before he sadly passed away."
You have a lot of experience as a producer as well.
Mike Brooks: "That's what I was just telling you, I always liked producing more than singing. I was the first producer to work with Wayne Marshall for example. Jah Lloyd and I used to work for Lee Perry and we established a label together called Teams. That label still exists."
You have the skills of a producer yourself, but as a singer is there any producer in particular that you love to work with?
Mike Brooks: "I worked with a lot of producers and when you ask me to do something a certain way, I will do it. Gussie P is a good producer. We just did an album together. The only thing is, when I produce myself, it will sound totally different."
What few people know is that it was you who pushed that first hit by The Mighty Diamonds, 'Shame And Pride'.
Mike Brooks: "Yeah, Jah Lloyd and I produced that tune and an album by the same title was later released on the Teams label."
You also recorded a couple of tracks at Studio 1, but apparently Coxsone never wanted to release them.
Mike Brooks: "(laughs) At the time Coxsone really had a go at me because I was also recording tunes for Jojo (Hookim, Channel One studio producer, red.). One of the big tunes I recorded for him was 'What A Gathering' on the Ballistic Affair riddim. Leroy Smart also had a version on that riddim."
You've been living in London now for some time...
Mike Brooks: "I wouldn't call it "living there"; I'm really back and forth between London and Jamaica all the time. You can make music anywhere in the world really. I am the voice, so I am the music, and I can do that anywhere I want (laughs)."
You're also known as a devout Rastafarian. What does being a Rastafarian entail for Mike Brooks?
Mike Brooks: "Selassie I is I king and God and I inspiration. Some say they are Rasta, but they aren't really. It's not up to me to judge, but as Bob Marley said: "You don't have to be dread, to be Rasta!" Heartical! Just as long as you praise the living God within yourself and suffer the works you have to do! God does not look at colour or race, just as long as you call upon the right name and serve him!"