Interview with former Slits rocker, Ari Up

By John Rickman
Return of the giant Slit!
In the years since the legendary, all-girl U.K. punk band The Slits disbanded in 1981, the band’s lead singer Ari Up has divided her time between Kingston, Jamaica and Brooklyn, New York performing as a singer and dancer under the name Medusa, as well as designing clothes and being a mom to her three sons Pablo, Pedro, and Wilton.
This year Up released her first solo recording “Dread More Dan Dead,” a collection of natty punk dance tracks and empowering pop lyricism reflective of the profound impact Jamaica’s culture has had on her life and identity.
FREEwilliamsburg caught up with Up when she returned to New York recently to prepare for an upcoming gig with her live band the True Warriors.
FREEwilliamsburg: What do you like about living in Brooklyn?
Ari Up: Brooklyn is Brooklyn! I live in the heart of Flatbush, which I like because it’s very urban and hasn’t become overpopulated in the same way Williamsburg has. Williamsburg, before it became overly trendy, used to remind me of the artsy area in West Berlin near the wall when it was still up.
FREEwilliamsburg: How has living in Jamaica influenced the way you express yourself?
Ari Up: Moving to Jamaica was a natural transition for me. It was the next logical step after performing with The Slits and as the main singer in the On-U Sound reggae project New Age Steppers. I got to know local Jamaican girls and people in general and going to all the dances and spots in Kingston, then when I started recording and performing there people already knew who I was.

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