Kemaul M. Martin, professionally known as Yaksta, is an upcoming Jamaican reggae-dancehall recording artiste and songwriter. Growing up under the care of his single mother and sisters in an area categorized by many as a “ghetto” or “garrison”, life presented challenges which the singer has consciously sought to overcome. Rather than succumb to a life of violence and crime - the fate of many of his peers, Yaksta’s passion for music and drive to hit the global stage has been admired by many.
Most recently, Yaksta released a stunning visual interpretation of his ska influenced single "Boogie Woogie." The video is a mirror of Yaksta's colorful, new age Jamaican vibration. KingstonToLA recently caught up with Yaksta to learn more about his background, unique style, and promising music journey.
KingstonToLA: Tell us about Yaksta, what do people know and not know about you?
Yaksta: Well Yaksta is a difference within music. What do people know about me? Well people know I'm that I'm eccentric, I'm different. I have a more universal style, very jovial yet humble. What they don't know is that I don't like a clustered place - even though I'm a performer you get me? If it's just a normal day to just relax, it has to be a place that I can hold a realms, so I can feel fully in tune to my solace.
KNG2LA: Where does the name Yaksta come from?
Yaksta: Well the word Yaksta come's from Brainiac. The i-c off the word Brainiac, we just flip it and put y-a-k, and then we had s-t-a from stamina. To the wording, you get mental stamina. So just look to the longevity in everything that Yaksta does.
KNG2LA: Where in Jamaica are you from?
Yaksta: I have upbringings from Kingston, affiliated with Mo-Bay. But the capital of Yaksta, the whole roots is from St. Mary. St. Mary is where the whole backbone of Yaksta really lies, the whole country style.
KNG2LA: Shed some light on your musical upbringing. What did your parents listen to, what influenced your style?
Yaksta: My musical upbringing was basically based off of 90s dancehall and dancehall. Also ska, jazz and rocksteady. Those are some of the music that I really enjoy. Some of the vintage artists that I really look up to are Jimmy Cliff, Lee Scratch Perry, Bob Marley, Barrington Levy, Bounty Killa, Beenie Man, Panhead, you have Johnny, which he didn't really buss, but he's a bad artist [that I know], Eek-A-Mouse, Buju Banton. In the modern generations you have Alkaline, Lila Ike, Vybz Kartel, Mavado, Chronixx, Protoje and a few more that [I can't] really recall right now. As well as Eminem, yeah man [I like] Eminem.
KNG2LA: Where do you get your fashion sense?
Yaksta: My fashion sense is actually eccentric. It's not of the norm. I'm a mad hatter so things will not just align with sane or sanity. When it comes to dressing, anything that I feel I want to draw on and just wear, it just progress in that order. I capitalize on anything that is useful. Yaksta really loves colors, you know? Yeah man, colors is really my thing on a difference, if you look too normal it's not me cause I'm not normal.
KNG2LA: Congrats on the visuals for "Boogie Woogie," what inspired the single?
Yaksta: Well "Boogie Woogie" is a reincarnation of ska and rocksteady, jazz, all the music genre that people put aside and forget about we actually reviving them you know? We giving them the rejuvenation whiskey. What really influenced that song was near a Good Friday, I think. I was listening to some festival songs that day and everything that I saw on my way going to the beach, I just memorized. When I reached home that day, I started playing some keys and I got some phrases from one of my friends. We just forged everything together and yeah "Boogie Woogie," came about. It becomes a monumental song and something that will actually stay in Jamaica. It will paint Jamaica in a new picture, a new era.
KNG2LA: What's coming up next?
Yaksta: We have "Bukky Marshall," it's an EP that consists of nine tracks, almost an album. It's mainly roots and reggae vintage and classic dancehall. We also have a futuristic project entitled "Lifted," that's affiliated with DJ Brian Howie of Sony records. It mainly consists of more futuristic music and new generation stuff.
Music fans can see Yaksta performing live at Jamaica's weekly Dub School, Selecta Fridays, Miss Independent in St. Mary and some upcoming tours in the works.
Stay tuned for more upful movements from Yaksta, and watch the must-see video for "Boogie Woogie," here on KingstonToLA:
Photos via Yaksta directly.