The Dale Virgo Story
experience, versatility, diversity (to producing) and I am not afraid to try new things
TEN years ago, Dale Virgo was a student at the University of Technology, a teenaged ‘techie’ with big dreams of making it in the music business.
Today, the 29-year-old musician/producer is studio manager and resident engineer at Gee Jam studio in Port Antonio.
There, he has worked with a number of high-profile acts such as Rihanna (on Crazy Little Thing Called Love); British band Florence and The Machine, Canadian rapper Drake, Sean Kingston, Cee Lo Green and Amy Winehouse.
A project close to Virgo’s heart is resurgent mento band, the Jolly Boys whose Great Expectation album he produced and played percussion.
“I bring experience, versatility, diversity (to producing) and I am not afraid to try new things. I have produced traditional church hymns to the most hardcore dancehall songs,” he told Splash.
A self-taught engineer, Virgo’s entry into production came with gospel. He co-produced the Gospel Fe Share ‘riddim’ in 2004, followed by the Spiritual War compilation in 2005 and Spirit Scription (2006).
His big breakthrough, however, was secular. Virgo created the beat for Gyptian’s 2004 song Serious Times which opened the door for him to work with other dancehall artistes like Queen Ifrica, D’Angel and Ce’Cile.
Working with international acts, he pointed out, has helped improve his production skills.
“I have learned to accept the dedication to their craft and detail to bringing music to its perfection. I have seen artistes spend days working on one song, and the outcome is an international hit. These experiences over and over have changed my outlook and the way I approach working on music,” he said.
Dale Antou Tonye Ian Virgo was born in Kingston but grew up in Portmore, St Catherine and attended Excelsior High School.
While at Excelsior, he developed an interest, which grew when he enrolled at the University of Technology to study computer and information technology, and later at Edna Manley College for the Visual and Performing Arts.
“Music production has always been an interest of mine, I was always fascinated with studios and recording,” he said. “In the early 2000s when there was an internet boom, I used the Internet to research and study music,” he recalled. “My involvement with computers made it easier since at the time I got into music, most of it was being technologised.”
Virgo’s latest project is another riddim, the Perfect Key, which has songs by Christopher Martin, Chronixx, Angele Smith and Sophia Squire.
He is also working on the new Jolly Boys album, as well as the debut album for the Mike’s All Stars Jazz Band.
Dale "Dizzle" Virgo - Musician | Producer | Entrepreneur
Dale Virgo, Rising With Every Rhythm
There are many producers in Jamaica, but not many can show off a plaque they received for being one of the producers on a Rihanna multi-platinum album.
Geejam’s in-house producer, Dale Virgo, can credit himself for the track Crazy Little Thing Called Love on Rihanna’s album, A Girl Like Me. All this happened in 2005, when Virgo was a student at Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts (EMC), after many thought he made a stupid move by leaving the University of Technology after one year to study music at EMC.
Virgo explained that his publisher submitted beats from him and other local producers to Rihanna’s team, and his beat was chosen.
“Call it luck … . I couldn’t believe. I didn’t expect them to select me,” he told The Gleaner, noting that he also produced Gyptian’s Serious Times, which was also a hit during the same time period.
“The album was major. They had different genres, they experimented, and it worked,” he said.
I LOVE MUSIC
The success with Crazy Little Thing Called Love and Serious Times pushed Virgo to do even more.
“I just love music, and I wanted to do more. I was doing music 24/7. I had my studio in my bedroom, I built a voicing booth in my room. I had a lot of artistes pass through my studio,” he said.
“It looked more like a studio than a bedroom. You wouldn’t see personal stuff around. People would sit on the bottom of the bunk bed and I would sleep at the top. That was in my mother’s house, but they (family) accepted it after a while,” Virgo recalled.
During those years, Virgo was also very influential on the gospel music scene, working with top gospel reggae acts at the time. But in 2008, a great opportunity came his way when he started working at Geejam Studios in Portland. “Working with Geejam opened a lot of opportunities, it gave me a professional edge. It seems this is what I was preparing myself for,” he said, “I learnt a lot and I met a lot of people being here. It’s just never-ending opportunities.”
JOLLY BOYS MEMBER
Virgo is also part of the popular Jolly Boys mento band that is currently on a European tour. But Virgo said he opted out of the tour to work on other projects, including one with dancer Mystic, as well as a jazz band. Some of this work will be done with a production team called Diztroy, which is a collaboration between himself and Troy Baker.
Although he is still at Geejam, Virgo still has productions as part of his newly formed DZL Record label. The most recent production was the ‘Perfect Keys’ rhythm, that featured Christopher Martin, Cecile, Chronixx, Ikaya, Sophia Squire, Angele Smith, and Divine Brown. He says he is also doing work with Kim Nain.
And Virgo has also worked with the likes of Drake, Amy Winehouse, Sean Kingston, and Cee Lo Green. He was, however, tight-lipped about the next international act that he will be working with. “Between this year and next year, you are going to see a lot of international acts doing work with Jamaicans. They love the vibe. There is renewed interest for R&B and hip-hop to be fused with Jamaican sounds and artistes,” Virgo told The Gleaner.