By Noe Gutierrez
Born “Michael Kamakoakeauoliokekai Lopes” Polynesian/Reggae/Dancehall artist Inna Vision grew up on the Hawaiian island of Maui and at age 12 started his first band. Currently supporting his latest release, a five song EP called Highest Grade, the project is considered a cross over release with a fusion of Reggae, Dancehall and Hip-Hop. Inna Vision has performed in more than 100 cities across America with reggae royalty such as Tribal Seeds, Fortunate Youth, Damian Marley, SOJA, Rebelution, Collie Buddz, UB40 and J Boog.
Coachella Valley Weekly communicated with Inna Vision in preparation for his show supporting Katchafire at the Date Shed on Saturday, April 8, 2017. Also on the bill are desert reggae favorites Mozaiq. The show starts at 9 with doors opening at 8 p.m. Tickets are available online at dateshedmusic.com for $25 or you can purchase them the day of the show for $35.
CVW: You just released your 5-song EP Highest Grade on March 3, 2017. How do you feel about the EP & what has been the fan response?
Inna Vision: “Highest Grade is the best work to date. From production to writing it’s a milestone and it’s a nice intro to what direction I plan taking the music. It has more of a dancehall/hip-hop feel added and the fans have responded positively. We’re very interested in the works to come.”
CVW: Please tell us a bit about each song on Highest Grade:
IV: “Maadness was written as a prayer asking for forgiveness of everyday sins. We’re all not perfect people but every day is a new day and chance to grow.”
IV: “The song “Back Trax” talks about our struggles as a national touring band and still turning the performance up no matter if five people are watching or a thousand. We represent that we’re we from Hawaii and no matter what city we’re in we bring it. We gave it the title “Back Trax” due to us using tracks in our early career just to get by. Some critics were skeptical about it, but we proudly present our sound and turn it up anywhere and anyhow.”
IV: “We got pulled over in Idaho last year for some ganja and they took some of us to jail. Lots of the charges were bogus and they ended up dropping them all. Once again, we’re fighting for herbal rights but yet it’s ok to purchase alcohol, cigarettes and prescription drugs easily. They’re always trying to lock off the ‘Highest Grade.’”
“Real Type of Cop”
IV: “These past few years have been incredibly sad with law enforcement taking the lives of innocent people. Every time I’d turn on the TV or my phone it was another heart aching news flash. The song doesn’t single out bad cops; it simply states the real cops don’t do this kind of shit.”
“Highest Grade Dub”
“I wanted to show case the production skills of Rick Haze on this track. He killed the album and is a great producer and artist. Check him out for sure.”
CVW: What has it been like performing with Katchafire?
IV: “It’s been surreal playing with them every night. I’ve been a huge fan of them since 2004. To be on this journey is a blessing. They’re very down to earth, knowledgeable and have been sharing their experiences with us after every show. It’s very humbling.”
CVW: Tell us about ‘Maui Mocha Madness’.
IV: “I’ve recently collaborated with ‘Stache Coffee Company’ on this project. Me being a huge coffee drinker it was only natural ha ha. Herbs and coffee are an everyday lifestyle for me so I might as well drink my own brew! We’re selling them at all shows and soon it’ll be available on-line and in select locations. (www.StacheCoffeeCo.com)”
CVW: Your lyrics are uplifting and positive. In your song “Prosper and Earn,” you sing,
“YOU GOT TO KEEP MOVING
NO MATTER HOW MUCH TIMES LIFE TRIES TO BRING YOU DOWN
YOU GOT TO KEEP LIVING
TAKE A DEEP BREATH JUST SMILE AND LOOK AROUND
NO PROBLEMS SHOULD TAKE US, OUT OF OUR ELEMENT AND BREAK US
WE NEED TO STAND FIRM, LOVE IT AND LEARN, PROSPER AND EARN…
…NEVER TAKE A DAY FOR GRANTED, WORK HARD IF YOU WANT IT THAT BADLY
THE FUTURE’S THE PLAN, TODAY MAKE A STAND, TOMORROW’S IN YOUR HAND”
Aside for the positivity found in reggae music in general, how much of your music & lyrics comes from your own life experiences?
IV: “All of the songs I write are from first-hand experiences. The songs signify a point in my life I can trace back to while on stage. At the end of it I’ll have a timeline of experiences left for my story.”
CVW: Tell us about roots reggae and the legacy you would like to leave.
IV: “When I started Inna Vision my goal was to bring the world a version of ‘Maui-Roots-Reggae’ music to put us on the map. I want listeners to feel inspired when they hear my story, struggles and success. I’d like to guide the kids on the right path, help them with decision making and keep them motivated. Even if we slip up sometimes, we should forgive ourselves and wake up every day with a new goal in mind.”
Mozaiq is Marc Diaz on vocals, Daniel Torres on lead/rhythm guitar, Noel Morin, Jr. on drums/vocals, Ryan Kerr on keys/vocals and the newly recruited Dub Wallace on bass and background vocals. The band is fired up to perform in front of their home crowd and to open for the legendary New Zealanders, Katchafire.
Band Update: “The Mozaiq excitement level is at an all-time high right now. We just completed the recording of two original songs with the incredibly talented E.N Young of Roots Musician Records. The experience was unparalleled as far as what we learned from E.N and the friendship we formed that day. We’re beyond excited to get back in the studio with him later this year and complete our debut album.”
On opening for Katchafire:
“Katchafire is easily one of our favorite bands. We have been prepping for the show and are definitely going to be bringing our ‘A’ game and giving the CV crowd at The Date Shed an amazing show that they can be proud of. It is a top motivation for us to represent the Coachella Valley in everything that we do, to the best of our abilities.”
“We are so extremely grateful for every opportunity that we’ve received to play for our local family here as well as outside of the valley. Saturday night, we intend to show our people that gratitude with our performance.”