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"Leaps and Bounds"

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Leaps and Bounds
This alien amphibian is unstoppable
By Alexandra Quiñones

On a steamy Saturday night at Wynwood bar Bullfrog Eatz, a band prepared to perform. The members of Secret Identity stood patiently, respective instruments in tow. An announcer, reading from an archaic-looking book, introduced the main act: "Look up in the sky. It's a bird. It's a plane. It's a frog." It was Fitzroy, the self-described amphibian from outer space sent to Earth to save mankind through his uplifting music. Cloaking his person in sunglasses, headphones, and a cap, the galactic frontman opened his set demurely. His silky island accent lent an especially smooth cadence to his rhymes while the band played funky sounds that elicited enthusiastic howls from the audience. As the first song approached its climax, Fitzroy (real name Jason Jeffers) doffed his jacket, shoes, and hat to unleash his hip-grazing dreds and enigmatic stage presence. In a little more than a year, Jeffers has garnered a dedicated following, held residencies at local venues, and recorded an album.

Hailing from Barbados, Jeffers left his native island in 1998 to attend Florida International University and pursue music. His talent for writing led him to journalism and would later present itself in songs such as "The Way I Move." The singing amphibian exudes confidence with lines like "Do your do, and I gonna do my do/And if they coincide, then we can ride on through/But if not, just watch as I do my thing/Bet you've never seen a frog that can dance and sing." Although Jeffers began performing as Fitzroy in October 2005, the songs on his debut album, Paradise Low, are a collection of unfinished ditties he wrote over the span of a few years.

"I guess the songs on this album ... were just bits and pieces of songs that I was working on by myself. It's only last year that I got to a point where I was like, 'Man, if I'm not doing music full out, then I don't really want to be here,'" Jeffers muses. The result is eleven tracks of smooth funk and hip-hop with sonic soundscapes ranging from ethereal to urban, or as Jeffers describes on a MySpace video clip, "beach-folk." Although not a trained musician, Jeffers wrote and recorded the album on a keyboard in his room, with the aid of guitarist Buffalo Brown. Paradise, written during a low point in Jeffers's life, explores universal themes such as love, loss, and growth.

"It's a breakup album, but not just a breakup with a person, but with a place as well. I love Barbados ... there's a quality of life there that I miss tremendously, but at the same time I knew that to pursue my vision, I couldn't do [music] there. So my music on the album was inspired by that. You know when you're in a relationship that isn't taking you anywhere, you have to go and do your own thing. So you love this person, but you know you have to move on, you have to be somewhere else."

Although Paradise was released in early October 2006, Jeffers is already focusing on the future. For the next few months he will be hopping back and forth between Miami and Barbados, where he plans to shoot a video and begin recording the next album. The transplanted froggy must truly be from outer space, for his seemingly limitless energy has spurred him to launch his own record label.

"I just started up a little label called Third Horizon, and basically it's just a means for me to put out music on a consistent basis," Jeffers says. "The hope is to put out releases from like-minded artists who I'm working with, like some of the other musicians in the band that have their own projects. It's just a little start-up thing."

The fervent singer's drive is clearly visible in his performances, for energetic showmanship is protocol at Fitzroy shows. Jeffers even bought a wireless microphone before one performance so he wouldn't be bound to a stationary position. Barefoot and brazen, the frontman has graced stages, bar tops, and sidewalks at venues such as Stop Miami, Purdy Lounge, and Jazid.

As for where Jeffers expects to see Fitzroy in the future: "Everywhere. I don't plan to slow down until I get everywhere."

- Miami New Times

"The Frog Prince of Sorrow"

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The Frog Prince of Sorrow
By Andrew Kameka

Fitzroy searches for peace any place he can find it. As he rests his dreadlocked head on his hands and sits on the patio behind Churchill’s Pub, his eyes show the sign of a tired man already thinking about tomorrow. It’s a stressful feeling, but life is never simple for an intergalactic frog.

Jason “Fitzroy” Jeffers may be a 26-year-old native of Barbados, but he says his roots extend to another planet. A journalist by trade and a musician by passion, he claims to be a descendant of frogs from outer space that came to Earth for an unknown reason. That mysterious existence has added a new layer to his complex personality and helped him through some tough times while trapped on the Third Rock.

“My grandfather was a frog,” Fitzroy said. “Maybe it’s something that I should keep to myself, but that’s me. People make light of it [and laugh], but it’s a serious t’ing.”

Fitzroy’s tale is rare, but the only thing more unique than a dreadlocked amphibian is the music that a dreadlocked amphibian creates. Blending hip-hop, rock and several Caribbean genres, the MC/singer’s style is just as diverse as Miami, his adopted home. For a man who descends from the stars, fusing those different sounds is as natural as breathing.

“I’m a pretty off-kilter motherfucker. I don’t think I’m normal by anybody’s definition,” Fitzroy said. “If I don’t give myself over to the music, I become really clogged up and even more of a mess. There’s a part of me that likes [making music] and a part of me that needs it.”

Fitzroy’s life was much simpler when he was growing up in Barbados. His mother worked as a meteorologist and his father, who died when Fitzroy was seven years old, was an agricultural scientist. Alongside his younger brother and other neighborhood kids, he spent much of his youth climbing trees, throwing rocks, and getting into whatever mischief his pristine island could provide.

When Fitzroy was 11-years-old, a no-frills Casio keyboard gave direction to his aimless childhood. After receiving the instrument as a gift from his mother, crafting sound quickly became his one and only passion. Soon after, Mobb Deep, Nas and N.W.A. exposed the budding musician to a vibe different from anything he’d ever heard.

But as alluring as hip-hop may have been, it had yet to catch on with most of Fitzroy’s countrymen.

“Hip-hop wasn’t popular at all in Barbados,” he said with a reminiscent smile. “You would be lucky to be at a party and hear 20 minutes of it. A few of us would be on the floor moshing out and everybody else would look at us like, ‘What the fuck is wrong with them?’”

Fitzroy soon realized that Barbados, an island-nation he could drive around in three hours, was too small to hold his dreams. In 1998, he set his sights on Florida International University and hopped on a plane to Miami.

“I never told anyone that I was coming here to pursue music,” he said. “Going to college was expected of me, so in my mind, I was just going to study journalism and do music in my dorm room at night. I figured that in a year or two, things would take off and I’d be doing music full-time.”

Eight years after first arriving at MIA, things have yet to take off. Instead of cashing royalty checks for his latest CD, Fitzroy works as a journalist to pay bills and fund recording projects. Echoing a story familiar to frustrated musicians, he endures long nights, poor eating habits and the emotionally taxing grind that an occasional nine-to-nine day job brings.

Managing that hustle-heavy lifestyle nearly overcame Fitzroy as he recorded Paradise Low, his debut album. The combination of homesickness, musical frustrations and going through a rough break-up with his ex-girlfriend made him contemplate returning to Barbados.

“The expression ‘paradise low’ actually came because a friend of mine from Barbados told me, ‘Jeffers, boy, you really low,’” Fitzroy said. “I was clinging to a certain kind of paradise like the old relationship I was in and the island where I used to live. I was hanging on to the past.”

Describing that period as the time he hit “absolute rock bottom,” Fitzroy captured his depression on Can’t Keep Waiting, a haunting freedom cry that tightropes between hopeful bliss and torturous confinement. A ghostly guitar melody flows throughout the song as he yearns for release from something holding him back. Ambient waves quickly crash against the shore and fade away, mirroring the frog’s desire to let water carry him home.

“When I first met Jason, he had reached a low point in his experience here in Miami,” said John Speck, a friend and frequent collaborator. “There were days that we would play Sly & the Family Stone’s There’s a Riot Going On and just sit in the darkness of his room listening to it.”

A legacy of lily pads eventually delivered redemption. In 2004, Fitzroy discovered that he descended from frogs. Drawing parallels to ancient civilizations who viewed the frog as a creature that symbolized the release of sorrow and tension, he applied that philosophy to his life. Rather than struggle to recapture lost happiness, the once heartbroken man regained his swagger by combining a natural desire to recover with his amphibian awakening.

“One day we met George Clinton, a.k.a. the Atomic Dog, and when Fitzroy told him he’s a frog from outer space, George started calling him the Atomic Frog,” said Speck. “That’s one of the things I like about Fitzroy. He’s not afraid to put himself out there and he’s got an amazing gift for telling a story, which a lot of musicians take for granted.”

The Atomic Frog wants to push that gift to new heights. Emotionally beyond the dark days that birthed Paradise Low, Fitzroy is already prepping his next project, tentatively-titled Lady Babylon. He’s also negotiating with a few distributors who could help his music reach listeners across the globe.

“I want to take this music anywhere that I can take it - New York, Afghanistan, wherever,” Fitzroy said. “You want music to reach many places, and for me, that involves touring and spreading the vibes as much as I can.”

A recording artist wanting to have a global presence is nothing new, but Fitzroy’s desire brings an ironic twist to an age-old story. He came to Miami to jumpstart a music career, but much like the island that he left behind, the Magic City has proven to be a pond too small for an intergalactic frog who wants to touch the world.

“Miami’s been good to me, and I’m always going to keep roots here because there’s a unique energy that’s integral to what I’m doing,” Fitzroy explained. “But as far as physically being here, I’m ready to hit the road. I think my mission’s a bit bigger than Miami.”

And what exactly is his mission? Fitzroy paused pensively and looked up to the late afternoon sky as he searched for a suitable answer.

“I don’t want to make it sound too grandiose, but it’s to inspire people to figure out their way in life,” he responds. “And it doesn’t have to be some big save the world song; just something intimate and personal.”

- Pulse Miami News

"Fitzroy and the Tropical Funk vanguard"

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Fitzroy and the tropical funk vanguard
By Mark Sanders

In Miami, a perfect storm's been brewing for years, though it has nothing to do with the impending hurricane season. The town's rich culture— a cosmopolitan mix of Caribbean, Latin American, European and American influences—is increasingly reflected in its diverse musical acts.

"These are very exciting times to be in Miami," muses John Speck, frontman and trombonist for Miami tropical-funk act Bacon Bits. That's a bit of an understatement; what he sees here is nothing less than a revolution-in-waiting. For proof, Speck cites Suénalo, Locos Por Juana, Skampida and Fitzroy (among others) as groups playing a multi-headed mix of reggae, Cuban jazz, R&B and funk. The diversity of genres is all part and parcel of this as-yet-unnamed scene.

Jason "Fitzroy" Jeffers agrees with Speck's vision for Miami. At 25, he's old enough to have some real-world experience behind him, though in terms of music, he's still a rookie. Jeffers grew up in Barbados, rapping to prerecorded beats until he moved to Miami for college. Afterward, he earned a steady paycheck writing for the Miami Herald, doing the 9-to-5 bit while, in his words, "being half-ass" about his music career. So one day a few months back, he quit and put a backing band together. Asked whether leaving his day job was a risk, he shrugs.

"When you have faith in something, it's not that much of a risk, anyway," says Jeffers, who now devotes himself to Fitzroy full-time. His music, strongly rooted in the '80s pop funk of Prince, is reflective of his casual, upbeat disposition. And, like Jeffers himself, Fitzroy's music is more organic than its dancehall reggae counterparts currently dominating the Miami scene.

"You've got similar things in New York," notes Speck of Bacon Bits, which shares a guitarist with Fitzroy. He adds that the Big Apple "seems to be more serious." He and Jeffers both stress the chasm between the New York and Miami reggae/funk scenes. For Speck, New York is simply a place where people don't want to cut loose -- "they don't dance as much there," he says -- while for Jeffers, it's all about the two metropolises' comparative age.

Regarding Miami, Jeffers says, "It's still a young city in the sense that New York ... everything's already in place there. Of course, you'll find movements, but it really isn't a blank slate. Miami is."
- Creative Loafing


"Paradise Low" - the debut LP

"Her" - the 'buzz' single currently receiving spin on radio stations across the Caribbean.

"Can't Keep Waiting" - the first music video from "Paradise Low", now in heavy rotation on Tempo, MTV Caribbean, and being serviced to stations across the country and abroad.



Blowing both minds and speakers from the Caribbean to Miami and back, singer/songwriter Fitzroy isn't the next big thing at all; he's the now big thing you're just catching up to.

Hailing from the island of Barbados, the self-proclaimed frog from outer space flips between a lilting, huckster croon and island-accented raps to muse wittily on the ever-tightening shrinkwrap culture of today, why jackasses with too many guns and tiny genitals are running the world, and ultimately, love both busted and cosmic.

It all comes together in a sound that's kinda hard to categorize. If you called it Caribbeandubfunksoultronica you'd be pretty spot on, but you'd also be an idiot. Better yet to turn off your head, tune in, and enjoy. Earthy and ethereal, freewheeling and future-leaning, Fitzroy serves up a potent audio brew that could only come together in the carnivalesque cultural melting pot that is Miami-by-way of-the-Caribbean.

For booking, contact: Lizzie Easton | Soula Booking | 305-772-6611 |