Kassner Music recently signed an exclusive deal with British singer-songwriter Junior Giscombe. One of the pioneers of modern UK soul and pop music. Junior is best known for his transatlantic hit Mama Used To Say, which reached the UK Top 10 and Billboard Top 30 in 1982 and propelled him to that year’s Billboard ‘Best Newcomer’ award, presented to him by the iconic James Brown.
To celebrate the union, we asked Junior to take us back to the time he first brought Mama Used To Say to life.
Junior tells us: 'I was working at the time. I used to work in a shoe repair shop as a cobbler back in those days. I wrote the song because a young girl came into the shop and I was 22. She said she was 18 and I thought, she’s a bit young. I had to cut down on my age and tell her that I was 20 to make it more feasible for me and her to go out and it came from that, really. And then things that my mother would say to me about rushing to get old, getting to 16 and wanting to get to 25 and when you look back you’ve killed 10 years of your life rushing to get to this particular age.
'From start to finish it couldn’t have taken me more than five or ten minutes to write the track. Everything collided at one time. While I was working I’d be singing and the lyrics just came. I knew what I wanted musically for the track and I got together with a guy called Bob Carter who was an arranger for Linx. Bob and I sat down and I sang him the song, showed him what I wanted in terms of the chordal arrangements and Mama was born.
'It was just the two of us that worked on the track. Because the melody and the lyrical content of it was spot on, Bob and I worked on the musical elements. It became a process of things that I wanted that Bob couldn’t play, so he played what he could and that was what brought the beauty to Mama Used To Say, because it was the mixture of a kid from Yorkshire who was into rock 'n' roll and a kid from south London who was into soul and R&B.
'I think any writer would tell you that the aim of writing is to try and write classic songs that people enjoy for years to come.'
'I didn’t think Mama Used To Say would be the hit it turned out to be, but my mum did. When it first came out nobody played it, nobody wanted to know. I was so anxious about it all and my mum said to me ‘people all over the world call their mother’s 'mama', Junior.’ It went places where I never thought it would and in America it became a number one for me. It was just a little song about what I think young people go through and to hear it still being played today is a joy.
'Sometimes you’ve got to sit back and laugh, you know? Because you wrote something standing up in your day job and all of a sudden you can go around the world and perform that song and people love it. It’s one of those things where sometimes you have to slap yourself.
'I feel more affinity to the track today than I did yesterday. When it first came out, because it was everywhere and anywhere, you just couldn’t get away from that song, I never really liked it. So it took me years. I was driving and I was listening to the radio and for the first time in about five or six years I actually listened from beginning to end and I thought, that’s a good piece of work, there. Because you’re listening back a certain amount of years on and music has moved on massively since that period and you’re thinking to yourself, this still sounds good. And I think any writer would tell you that the aim of writing is to try and write classic songs that people enjoy for years to come.'
Junior will be releasing his new album, Everything Set, later on this year. The album will include reggae re-workings of his most famous tracks.