MILL ROCK MUSIC PUBLISHING GROUP LLC ACQUIRES CATALOGUE OF VISIONARY JAMAICAN MUSICIAN, PRODUCER AND DUB ARCHITECT AUGUSTUS PABLO
New York, NY (September 15, 2021)–Mill Rock Music Publishing Group LLC, founded in 2016 by music industry veterans Murray Elias and Christoffer Mannix Schlarb, has acquired the catalogue of legendary Jamaican composer, producer, musician and melodica master, the late Augustus Pablo, whose ethereal instrumentals, inspired by his Rastafari way of life, brought heightened spirituality to reggae music. One of Jamaica’s most distinctive and influential artists, Pablo, who passed away on May 18, 1999 at 44 years old, altered reggae’s trajectory with his sonic innovations, which included his mystical Far East sound, characterized by haunting, minor-key melodica lines, and his contributions to the evolution of dub, the impactful art of stripping a recording to a forceful bass line overlaid with reverb, echo effects and fragments of melody.
Born Horace Swaby in Kingston, Augustus Pablo was a self-taught multi-instrumentalist. While still a teenager, he worked as a studio musician, beginning in the late 60s (which included sessions with The Wailers.) A friend introduced him to the melodica, and he took the instrument, essentially a harmonica with a keyboard, into his initial session with producer Herman Chin-Loy; Chin-Loy had previously used the name Augustus Pablo on other instrumental productions, but the name stuck with Swaby. Pablo introduced his Far East sound on his next single “East of the River Nile,” which he followed with the mesmerizing “Java,” voted Jamaica’s top instrumental in 1972. The same year, Pablo founded his record labels including Hot Stuff, Yard, Message, and Rockers International.
As a producer, Pablo enjoyed prolific associations with several singers including Jacob Miller (“Baby I Love You So,”) Hugh Mundell (“Africa Must Be Free,”) and Junior Delgado (“Raggamuffin Year.”) Pablo’s King Tubby meets Rockers Uptown, released in 1976, is regarded as the perhaps finest dub album ever released. His 1978 East of The River Nile (its title track a reworking of the 1971 single) ranks among the greatest instrumental albums within the Jamaican music canon and was recorded at the late Lee “Scratch” Perry’s legendary Black Ark Studio.
“It is an honor to be working with Augustus Pablo’s music and we are excited about bringing a catalogue of this magnitude into its rightful place within the reggae industry and the music business overall,” says Mill Rock co-founder Murray Elias. “Much of Pablo’s catalogue has been unattended to for a very long time so there are many issues that need to be addressed. We believe there is great placement potential: dub music can fit into so many different settings in terms of scoring scenes on movie soundtracks and already there is great interest in Pablo’s catalogue among music supervisors and placement agencies.” Pablo’s son, Addis Swaby, a musician, composer and producer known professionally as Addis Pablo and co-director of the Augustus Pablo estate with his sister Isis Swaby, is also signed to Mill Rock Publishing. “With Mill Rock controlling the publishing and the estate owning the bulk of the master recordings,” Elias continues, “Augustus Pablo’s catalogue is primed for easy one stop delivery for potential placements with music supervisors.”
Adds Chris Schlarb: “I have had the opportunity to work closely with Addis Pablo since early in his career, so it’s an honor to be taking this next step to work directly with his father’s catalogue, one of the most important catalogues in reggae music. I am looking forward to working alongside my partner Murray Elias as well as Addis and Isis Swaby to maximize the potential of their father’s tremendous musical legacy.”
Augustus Pablo’s music is the first legacy catalogue acquired by Mill Rock Music, a boutique, service-oriented company that specializes in (but is not limited to) publishing and administration services for reggae producers/writers/artists. The Mill Rock Music client roster includes producer Justus Arison, of JA Productions, renowned for his work with marquee dancehall acts including Mavado and Sean Paul and numerous hit dancehall rhythms such as the “High Life” featured on the popular reality TV series, Keeping up with the Kardashians; rising reggae star Blvk H3ro (pronounced Black Hero); upcoming Jamaican female singer/songwriter Shaday; Australian producer/artist Dub FX and producer Jon FX, who provided Mill Rock with their first Billboard Hot 100 hit, the multi-platinum single “Arms Around You,” by XXXTentacion and Lil Pump, featuring Maluma and Swae Lee.
Addis Pablo and Isis Swaby, a producer and a DJ, who also operate the Rockers International Record Shop located in Brooklyn, N.Y. are pleased their father’s catalogue will now receive the attention it has long deserved. “We have never had a publisher handle issue with our father’s catalogue or to take things to the next level and Murray is the right person because of his skills as a publisher and his years of experience in the music industry,” comments Addis. “Our father’s music can now be accessed on YouTube, Spotify and other streaming services, reaching places where people might not have been able to access much vinyl before and that is generating greater interest in new territories. Working with Mill Rock, we can now spread our father’s legacy as far as possible and know that the publishing aspect is secure.”
“Augustus Pablo’s music played a role in my discovery of reggae; he was one of the very first live reggae shows I ever saw, and “East of the River Nile” was the theme music to many of the reggae radio programs I hosted in the 1970s,” says Elias. “The admiration and appreciation I’ve had for his music over the years has finally come full circle now with the honor of working with his catalogue.”
Mill Rock’s Spotify playlist featuring 25 of Augustus Pablo’s most streamed tracks, all available for one stop licensing, can be heard (HERE).