Black Voices In Conversation: Skindred's Benji Webbe on bringing unity through music

"If I can’t encourage, motivate and uplift people, what am I making music for? It’s pointless"

Black Voices In Conversation is a new series of interviews by ITV News to mark Black History Month 2020.Across the country, we've spoken to groundbreaking individuals from the black community to learn about their life experiences and to hear their vision for the future.

Adeola Dewis, a presenter for ITV Wales, sat down with Skindred's frontman Benji Webbe to talk about his Welsh roots, and how he strives to bring people together through his band's unique fusion of heavy metal, punk rock and reggae.

After losing both his parents by the age of 12, Benji was raised by his brother and sister - and it was through his brothers’ love of reggae, he started to explore his own love of music.

“Being one of the only black families in the area, you learn quickly that there was a divide - and a lot of it was people not knowing the culture of black people in the town.

"But, growing up in an area where you had Rastas, punk rockers, - it was a big influence on me," Benji explains.

After being inspired by the ska movement, Benji formed Skindred almost twenty years ago - and he told ITV News the secret behind their long-term success is being able to appeal to all different types of people.

“The message of unity is so important to us. When you come to a Skindred show you see a 60-year-old guy with a bald head and tattoos and you see six young girls windin’ up - to the same song!”

“If I can’t encourage, motivate and uplift people, what am I making music for? It’s pointless.”

Benji described the exposure of racism in America following the death of George Floyd as "heart wrenching".

“The killing of George Floyd was the catalyst that made America explode - and this stuff has been happening for so long.

"I’m glad my side is on the side of love, never mind about colour - it’s about the people.

"I’ve been writing about this stuff for years. It’s heart wrenching and I wish there was some sort of way people would come together."

Watch more interviews from our Black Voices in Conversation series here - or listen below: