The Elovaters are one of the fastest rising groups in the American reggae scene. It’s an ascension that’s come through constant touring in support of acts like Stick Figure, Pepper and Ziggy Marley to eventually headlining clubs throughout the country. In 2020, the group’s monthly Spotify listeners grew 606%. It would be a high watermark that kept the group in good spirits despite having to spend over a year off the road.
Drummer Nicholas Asta said that year away was good for the group. The Elovaters went into the studio with producer Johnny Cosmic at Great Stone Studios space in Oakland, CA, spending 16 days of recording in the compound. “It definitely catered to us being the most creative that we’ve ever been in the studio,” Asta said.
“Usually we are feeling rushed and on the clock. This time we had so much extra time that we’d take a riff that Johnny [‘Blaze’ Alves] wrote while we were making tacos. Johnny was just writing a riff and Jackson [Wetherbee] was pouring margaritas. And that’s how ‘Margaritas’ started.”
“Margaritas” (featuring St. Maarten reggae group Orange Grove) is the second single off the group’s forthcoming album, Castles. Nestled into a kick-back groove, “Margaritas” is an off-the-clock anthem that reflects the ease the group discovered in the studio. The single immediately earned placement on Spotify’s Beach Vibes playlist. Singer and guitarist Jackson Wetherbee said it’s the group’s “most eclectic album they’ve ever done.”
“I’ve brought in more singer/songwriter stuff,” he said. “We weren’t trying to be overly reggae on this album.”
The single “My Friend” featuring The Movement and Keznamdi best illustrates the growth in The Elovaters sound. Each artist reflects on the friendships that kept their spirits up over an acoustic strum and sparse drum beat. It’s stripped down to the essentials, but The Elovaters find a balance between the serene acoustics and propulsive hip hop and reggae grooves across Castles. Wetherbee and Asta agreed the two-plus weeks in the studio brought out the best in everyone, which can be heard in the decisions made by Johnny “Blaze” Alves on guitar, Derrick Cabral on percussion, Matt Link on bass, and Greg Nectow on keyboards.
The Elovaters are deeply collaborative on this record, expanding on the collective approach to the Double Vision EP. “Let It All Out” with Bret Bollinger of Pepper from the EP in 2020 was a huge single for the group (also making the Beach Vibes playlist). The Elovaters continue their run of high profile collaborations on Castles with other guest appearances from Olympic snowboarder Luke Mitrani, Brother Ali, Stick Figure, and G. Love & Special Sauce.
“It’s unbelievable considering where we’ve come from as a couple of kids on the south shore of Boston to having The Movement, Stick Figure, and G. Love on our songs,” Wetherbee said.
The Elovaters formed in 2014 and have released two full length albums and an award-winning EP. Defy Gravity was the group’s first big record in 2018 after signing to not-for-profit record label Rootfire Cooperative. Debuting at #1 on the Billboard Reggae chart and iTunes Reggae chart, Defy Gravity was produced by Danny Kalb and the single “Live By The Day” caught the attention of Jimmy Buffett’s team who programmed it into regular rotation on SiriusXM’s “Margaritaville” station. The band’s success with SiriusXM has gone on to include the singles “Criminal” and “Fast & Slow” added to regular rotation on Kenny Chesney’s station “No Shoes Radio”
The Elovaters have played noteworthy reggae festivals like Cali Roots, Levitate Music Festival, Reggae Rise Up Florida and Utah, and One Love Cali Reggae Fest. Catch them on tour at theelovaters.com. -Blake Gillespie