Gimpleg had the pleasure of speaking with Coolie Ranx. Together they discussed the ska scene, voicing Little Jacob in GTA IV, their clothing label SkaTinz, and so much more!
1.Hello and thanks for taking the time to join us at Music shelf. How have you been lately?
Been battling life making strides in the right direction. Thanks for asking.
2. You were writing and performing music before joining the Toasters. Who were your biggest influences when you first started writing your own music?
I would be crazed if I said it was one person. My influences come from many musical rivers. Songwriters I admire range also from Dennis Brown, Al Green, Bob Marley, Seal Sade ,Tracey Chapman, Elvis Costello, Phil Colin’s , Sting, Burna Boy, Little John, Barrington Levy, Philip Levy Tipa Irie, Gappy Ranks Shinehead KRS1 Master Ace, Blak Twang. It goes on.
3. Your parents are Nigerian and Jamaican, you were born in London and grew up in New York City. How does that shape your music? Was music a big part of your life growing up?
My life has always been full of rich culture in that sense. The many sounds I was exposed to allowed me to appreciate people and be open to people. Maybe more so than people without the exposure to the back ground I grew up with.
Music has always been a part of my life and will always be a part of my life.
4. In the early 90s you were one of the most popular voices in East Coast ska, joining the Toasters and then founding The Pilfers. What was it like being in the ska and reggae scene prior to the huge success ska had in the late 90s?
Before the success of it all it was a hard road to travel.
The scene was like you could show up to venues where no one new why you were there or cared. In the worst times you get saluted by Nazi skinheads wanting to rip you head off because you were black. I remember in California saving some skinheads lives for doing that same salute I mentioned and the audience wasn’t having it.
5. Even after the Pilfers broke up, you continued to feature in other bands, including Reel Big Fish, Big D and the Kids Table, and Catch 22. What does it mean to you when a band calls you up and asks to feature on their album?
It’s a pretty big deal not just the known bands that call me up to do features. Unknown to the mainstream bands call me up. I take it as an honour. Sometimes it’s overwhelming because I have been very poor at time management of lately so I am behind. Not because I’m not interested but my attention is elsewhere
6. You were Little Jacob in GTA: IV. How did that collaboration come about? Would you do more voice acting?
I have a friend that was consulting on the project and he introduced me to the company to audition.
It was a dream come true for me. I’ve wanted to act my entire life before doing music I did school plays back in England and a couple in America. More of a passion than music was but it fizzled out due to lack of access to the resources. I would definitely be interested on doing something like this and more again.
7. A couple years ago you started CAR Sessions 2035, where you talk to bands, filmmakers, and more from the comfort of your car. Can you tell me more about what Car Sessions is and how can people find it to watch and follow along?
I started Car Sessions 2035 during COVID as we were all locked down it was just something to keep me busy with music and it turned into a way to bring other people works of music to the massive at the time total fluke that turned into something. Very proud of my flukes 😊 I can be found on a few platforms
8. In addition to promoting the arts with Car Sessions 2035, you have also recently started a clothing line called SkaTinz. What is SkaTinz, how did this come into being?
Ska Tinz is a clothing apparel that was launched on 2022 in August . I had a vision in the night of a SKA clothing line. It was so real and pushed me with such a force I couldn’t brush it away. I think of it as the new generation of SKA clothing line that suits most of the SKA kids. There are a lot of good clothing apparels out there. I hadn’t seen anything that reflects the regular clothes we wear. I am just getting started with the wear. Lots of great concepts. I just released a brand new item on Friday night. Designed from Scratch. I should also state these items are orginal trademarked and not found in stores. Found only on Skatinz.com
9. Where can we find SkaTinz, and what are your long term goals with the brand?
Skatinz.com My future goals are to design custom made outfits, for men, women and children. Have my brand found across the world.
The project reflects on my younger self trying to figure out how to navigate love the world death of friends. Be coming more spiritually aware and knowing how to recognize the powers within.
11. You’ve been writing music for over 30 years now, but it sounds like you still have a whole lot to say. What inspires you when you are writing music?
I have actually been writing music way more than that but within the SKA world I will take 30 years. I find life offers it’s self for inspiration. There’s always a tale to told or an incident to observe which can inspire a song.
12. Between doing interviews with Car Sessions, starting a ska themed clothing line with SkaTinz, starting your own solo music project, it seems like you stay extremely busy, but I have a feeling that there is even more. Do you have even more planned for the future, or are you going to try and focus on these projects?
Yes there’s so much more to do. I haven’t even scratched the surface of possibilities yet. Honestly sometimes things happen to inspire me and other times it’s a complete freak accident. I honestly thought I was a bit lazy but to hear you say it I’m not. Thank you!
13. Where should people go to listen to Coolie Ranx and support you?
They can find me on facebook Coolie Ranx IG. TikTok. I’m usually available, if I’m not you can leave a message. I am pretty glued to my cell lol I’m on all musical platforms Bandcamp, Apple music, Pandora, Tidal Youtube.