The quest for Zen Bow -part I

Reissuing a record is a long and costly process, but rewarding in a few ways: as a lot of times in life, it’s equally about the journey than the destination. Tracking Zen Bow to reissue his record took almost two years and it started in a really coincidental way. I thought it’d be funny to share a bit of the behind the scenes on this one -I’m sure every single label who’s reissued any old tracks has similar (probably more “spectacular”, too) experiences… But here’s mine/Zen Bow’s, written series-style. Hope you enjoy!


it’s really been bugging me lately: for the life of me, I can’t remember what dance I fist heard Impression play at. It had to be on a sound system that has a knack for heavyweight, yet a bit unusual little tunes, so my guess would be Roots Ting or Boris’ Reality, both sonos that sharpened our roots ears, as they played a lot in our Montpellier, France, area at the end of the ’90s. They are still two of my all-time favorite sound systems to this day.

Anyway. That song was stuck in my head for a few years, and as I do with many obscure artists I’m after for interviews in Natty Dread or Wax Poetics, I’d google it every few months. I have a whole list going… Don’t laugh, this has proved fruitful many times. For my next big interview of  a long-lost vocal trio, I found one of the members mentioned in a micro local newspaper in the US thanks to such a Google search, for instance. But I digress.

Back to 2010… Googling once more “Zen Bow,” and thinking I was going once more to be stuck with various references to the “Zen Bow, Zen Arrow” book, a miracle happened: somebody had posted a Youtube video of that song! Forgot who came first, Yassmat or RedAppleReggae.

My quest could finally start, where it usually starts : staring at all the info a record’s label can deliver, in order to track down Zen Bow for an interview. If you’re iun luck, somebody’s actual, full name will be written somewhere. The producer’s, the singer’s, the studio’s… anything helps. And all you hope for every time is that it will be an uncommon name. If all you find on a sleeve is “John Smith,” this where the roads ends. It took me a while to figure it all out. Have you ever tried to pause a spinning record from Youtube to see what it reads on it? Not easy on the eyes.

But eventually I got it : after a few hours, playing the video in full definition and getting to stop it right at the tenth of a second where all the text is in focus, a few letters started popping up.

Z… E… N…B…

We’re off to an unusual start. Perfect.

A… R… and then, what’s that surname? “Barrett”? “Bonnett”? Play, pause, rewind, play, pause, rewind… Ahh, “Bennett”. I think.
A few perilous-to-the-eye-sight hours later, the record had given birth to one name: “Zenbar Bennett.” It doesn’t take a specifically seasoned detective to figure out that this is probably Zen Bow’s actual moniker. Also, the label turned up a phone number in Hartford, Connecticut. All it was gonna take now was to dial it and see what’s happening…

(Part II coming up next week… stay tuned!)

2 Responses to “The quest for Zen Bow -part I”

  1. sdny Says:

    Large Up, tres interessant et amussant à lire.
    pourquoi ne pas avoir demandé les credits/infos à la personne qui a mis la tune sur yt ?
    c’est plus simple que de tourner la tete comme une couhette ou regarder la video image par images (oui, je connais cette situation)..

    Great job !


    • sebcarayol Says:

      Bonne question… par masochisme? ha ha. Non en fait c’est un truc tout bête : j’aime bien travailler aussi solo que possible sur ce genre de sujet, quite à avoir besoin de massages de nuque après !

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