Interview: Patrick Patterson – Cymande (May 2017)

Formed in London in 1971, from a varied collection of Caribbean musicians, Cymande have blazed a funk-drenched trail and spread their message of peace and togetherness ever since. After a number of years in which their members devoted their energy to other projects, the band are back on the road, introducing their sound to a whole new audience.

We caught up with co-founder Patrick Patterson recently, to find out a bit more…

What has been your over-riding emotion since Cymande’s modern day resurgence?  

“Joy and excitement at being back on the road together”.

With all of your life experiences, how different does it feel to be gigging today? 

“We are able to smell the roses more; we do it in a way that produces a much better opportunity to enjoy every aspect of the process and particularly travelling together”. 

Did you always believe Cymande would reform? That you had some unfinished business?

“For us it was not a question of reforming, because we describe what we did with the band in 1975 was to ‘take the band off road’ not disband, and that at some point, when the time was right, we would record and work (together) again”.

Aside from critical acclaim and how audiences around the world receive you, how satisfying and rewarding is it to know that you are one of the most sampled British bands of all-time? Specifically, how your music has influenced the hip-hop genre?

It is really great to know that we are much sampled because it points to the fact that we created something that was original and lasting, and justified our approach; that we should create and stick to our original product and not seek to follow that trends in music”.

As a friend and important member of the Cymande family, the recent death of John Schroeder must be keenly felt. Is your own longevity as a band all the tribute necessary, or might you honour him in another way?  

The band’s longevity certainly honours John, but also that his faith in the band was such that he came back on board to record the recent album- A Simple Act of Faith with us, and remained close to us throughout all the years that we knew each other. In addition, we mention his contribution and value to us, at all of the shows”.

Following on from ‘A Simple Act Of Faith’, are there currently any plans to get back into the recording studio? Is there anything else that Cymande are up to today? 

Our plan is to cut a new album this year. Now that John has passed away it will take a lot more planning with regards to production issues. We are also expanding our tour plans into 2018”.

Other than recording and gigging as Cymande, have there been other, lesser-known collaborations over the past 40 years? Have you written for other artists? Many other collaborations?

Steve and Mike Rose worked for many years with the South African band Jabula; Steve, me and Trevor White, started the project, View From the Hill, which had great success in the 80’s; Ray Simpson established a great solo project with Circa /Virgin records. Sam Kelly has created Station House and has established a career as a much in-demand session drummer.  Adrian Reid and Ray Carless have worked with everyone in the world and indeed most of the guys have collaborated with many other artists over the years; I did songwriting collaborations with Leon Ware, Patrick Henderson and others in America during the 80’s while SKb was my publisher. We have tried to put much of that on our website history”.

Other than Rastafarianism and a passion for music, what drives you?

The passion for justice”.

As pioneers of the UK black music scene, who were your musical influences when you were growing up?

Jazz and soul greats like Roland Kirk, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Otis Redding, Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin and, too many to mention and for me perhaps most of all as a guitar player, Jimmy Hendrix. Also great songwriters like Dylan and Paul Simon”.

With your first three records, did you feel like you were blazing a trail? Or was it simply just about making music, having a voice and sending out a message? 

We probably thought we were changing the world, but it is too far back to really remember”.

Cymande play Dimensions Festival in Croatia, from August 30th – 3rd September. They have recently put together an exclusive mix for the event and you can have a listen to it HERE


Photo ©: Daily Laurel