Singer-songwriter Jackson Droze Warren released his debut EP to be a bird earlier this year, a self-produced five-song collection that seamlessly blends reggae with hip-hop. Tracks like “Fly Away,” “Charleston Breeze” and “I’ll Be Okay” stitch together reggae-skank guitar strums and programmed beats to create a best-of-both worlds situation.
Warren, a Mount Pleasant native, started playing guitar and writing songs as a child but didn’t begin taking his musical career seriously until he was in college, creating many of the tracks that appear on to be a bird. There was no question that reggae was going to be a big part of his sound from the beginning.
“For me, reggae and classic rock were my two top genres and my biggest influences,” Warren said. “I’ve loved reggae from a young age. It’s just always been a positive genre and brought people together.”
Although the EP is only a couple of months old, it doesn’t fully represent the music that Warren is playing now. Guitarist Will Evans from Sexbruise? and Omar Colon from Fairweather Studios helped him engineer pretty much everything you hear on to be a bird before he met his current bandmates.
“It was definitely a learning process,” Warren said, “but through that process, I feel like the recording of this next project we have going has actually gone a little bit smoother than we expected.”
The new outfit Droze & the Drift is completed by drummer Conner Yahres and bassist Will Sanders both from Beaufort, South Carolina, plus guitarist Holston Rainero, another Holy City native.
While the DIY production of Warren’s debut EP was driven by hip-hop, Droze & the Drift has veered toward a more organic approach to reggae in recent sessions with Charleston producer Wolfgang Zimmerman at The Space. The band plans to release a new single in the next couple of months ahead of a full album in early 2023.
“We’re trying to go forward — put the band together in the studio a little bit more and do some more natural-sounding music to give listeners a feel for what our live shows are like,” Warren said.
As someone who has always listened to reggae-rock and ska punk, he feels like it has gotten swept under the rug in the contemporary mainstream. The full band backing affords him a roomy creative space to pull from and uncover nuances of the subgenre.
“I’m diving more into what Sublime and Slightly Stoopid set up for us,” Warren said, “taking the roots reggae from the ’60s and ’70s — like Bob Marley and the Wailers and Peter Tosh — and combining it with punk rock and modern rock.
“All of the writing and the structures of the songs I’ve put together through the years as a bedroom musician working on my own — I’ve just been waiting for the right people to help me record it.”
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