Trinity, you're what they call and Alpha Old Boy as you attended Alpha Boys School. How did you end up there?
Trinity: "Well as so many youths growing up in the ghetto, I was a bit of a wayward boy as a kid. My father never really took care of me and my mother couldn't handle me as I was a bit of a rude boy, so she decided to send me to the safest place they knew of and that was the Alpha Boys School. I didn't stay there too long though as the place felt like prison to me. Before I went to Alpha I'd also already spent some time at Maxfield Park (Maxfield Park Children's Home, red.)."
When did you first start contemplating a career in music?
Trinity: "I truly believe Jah chose me to do that, you know. I already started deejaying from when I was still a boy, hanging out at sound system dances and before that even just at bars where you had a jukebox; you used to put in some coins, pick a tune, usually a B-side, and try to toast along to it. That's how I honed my trade. They used to call me Dub Mouth back then. It was Dillinger who really introduced me into the music business. We used to spar regularly and one day he took me along to Channel One. I did do one recording before that time though; I think it must have been around 1972, when I recorded 'Got To Believe In It' for Enos McLeod at Dynamic Sounds studio. That day Dennis Alcapone was also present and having a big fish like that there made me truly nervous, but I eventually managed to overcome my nerves and recorded the tune still. The first tune I recorded at Channel One was called 'All Gone' (a deejay version over The Jays 'Ya Ho') followed by my version of Earth & Stone's 'Jailhouse Set Me Free'. Things really started kicking off for me when I started recording for Joe Gibbs. I will always remember my first time at Joe Gibbs' studio on Retirement Crescent. It was a Saturday morning and Dillinger had taken me to Joe Gibbs' shop on North Parade. Joe Gibbs wasn't there yet, but we did find Errol Thompson. Dillinger introduced me as the new upcoming talent, but Thompson didn't want to know. Some people in the shop were listening to Marcia Aitken's 'I'm Still In Love', so I decided on the spot to ask them to play the flip side which featured the dub version. I started toasting over it and really managed to impress Errol. I recorded 'Three Piece Suit And Thing' that same day still! That day Allan Davidson from the UK was present in the studio and he liked the tune so much he immediately ordered 500 copies to be distributed on his Lightning Records label. The tune got so popular they had a hard time keeping up with demand. In fact the original pressing mall burst in two after a while. The original version of the tune started with a siren, but the represses they did afterwards didn't feature that siren anymore."
As a sort of reaction to 'Three Piece Suit' girl duo Althea & Donna released 'Uptown Top Ranking'. How did you feel about their version?
Trinity: "That tune became a worldwide hit and even entered the pop charts and to be honest I kind of felt left out. 'Three Piece Suit' hardly earned me anything at all and then to watch these two girls almost hijack the tune and gaining worldwide success with their version felt as if they were running away with my prize. Even Alton Ellis, who wrote 'I'm Still In Love', the original melody to 'Three Piece Suit' never made any money from the song."
Amateurs of reggae music worldwide are still playing these vintage tunes you and many of your colleagues recorded back in the nineteen seventies and eighties. What do you think is the secret of their longevity?
Trinity: "We made music with God in mind, but these days many of the artists in Jamaica and the rest of the world make music with only money in mind, resulting in a lot of the disposable music that’s being turned out nowadays. It was the combination of divine inspiration with a simple love for the music that gave many of the tunes artists of my generation recorded back then their longevity. The game has changed though; these days it's all about popularity on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and what have you, but we had to graft trying to sell our 7inches, hoping someone would play them so we could get our name out there."
How did you end up with the Trinity name?
Trinity: "I started out as Prince Glen, but Jo Jo Hoo Kim at Channel One never really liked that name. One day he started going through his Bible and came up with Trinity, referring to the Holy Trinity of The Father, The Son and The Holy Ghost. The name stuck and the rest is history."
During your career you worked with a whole host of producers, but if one name stood out it has to be Yabby You.
Trinity: "Yabby You was a spiritual man who was a bit of an odd one out back then because he was a dreadlock but he still praised Jesus. When Yabby You started out in the business he was still known as Youth Iron, taken from the fact he used to smelt iron to turn it into pots and pans. He used to be a big strong youth, but he overdid it and ended up suffering from arthritis. He also maintained rigid lifestyle, sleeping outside and refusing to buy any food in a shop. All of that caught up with him in the end. As I said, he was a very spiritual individual and that echoed in the great music he produced. His music wasn't necessarily made to make you dance, but more to capture your mind."
For your most recent album, 'Eye To Eye', you joined forces with Irie Ites from France. How did that project come about?
Trinity: "That's kind of a long story! (laughs) One day I went down to Tree Top Recording Studio to do some voicing and Manu and Jérôme from Irie Ites were there. When they learned I was Trinity, they immediately asked me how I felt about voicing a tune over one of their riddims. That tune was 'Strange Strange' over John Holt's Strange Things riddim and we also did a next tune with Prince Alla called 'Bad Boy', which is on the album. They must have liked what they heard because they eventually invited me to come to France to record an entire album. They have a studio and office in Paris and I stayed in an apartment above it for several weeks until the album was finished. It has had a good reception, so I'm definitely pleased with how it turned out."
Fans of their work claim Irie Ites always manage to hold onto a vintage sound in their productions.
Trinity: "It's not only the vintage sound, they also respect vintage artists like myself and when they start a project they really go all-out. Irie Ites has a long-term view on the music they produce and that's exactly the way I like to approach things as well."
What does 'Eye To Eye', the title of the album refer to?
Trinity: "Well, I was touring in Japan when an old Japanese woman came up to me in my hotel in Tokyo. She told me she had a present for me and pulled out a scarf with the words "Eye To Eye" printed on it. She stated: "Keep this with you my son, wherever you go, it will bring you good luck!" and even though I don't believe in things like obeah (a term used in the West Indies to refer to folk magic, sorcery, and religious practices derived from West African, and specifically Igbo origin, similar to other African derived religions including Palo, Vodou, Santería, rootwork, and most of all hoodoo, red.), I can't but admit that scarf is very special indeed. I still don't know how she knew me and why she felt she had to give it to me, but there you go. It seemed a fitting title for the album."