Lee “Scratch” Perry’s Paradise

Horst Diekgerdes Travels to the Dub Pioneer’s Mountain Home

Lee “Scratch” Perry’s house, innocuously sequestered among mountains in a quiet Swiss village, is an unusual hermitage. Strewn with garden gnomes, wooden snakes, brightly painted stones and placards emblazoned with strident, yet esoteric slogans, it’s a garden of inexplicable delights, the full meanings of which are only known to their creator. A mystical, visionary figure, Perry is one of the founding fathers of the reggae genre, who since the early 70s has consistently proved himself to be one of the most innovative and unusual musicians in the world. He’s worked with everyone from Bob Marley and the Wailers (who were among the illustrious artists who recorded at Perry’s now-legendary Black Ark Studios in the mid-70s) to the Beastie Boys (he guested on the rap trio’s spaced-out 1998 album Hello Nasty), and has put out more than 50 albums of his own music, using so many pseudonyms it’s hard to keep track of it all. Despite his heroic status in Jamaica, he moved to Switzerland, he says, “Because of the nature here. Because I respect plants, I respect rocks and stones. You don’t see these beautiful mountains anywhere else.” At 74, “Scratch” is still incredibly prolific, releasing five albums of new, original material since 2007. The latest, Revelation, is the third in a series recorded with UK instrumentalist Steve Marshall and, like 2008’s Scratch Came, Scratch Saw, Scratch Conquered, features guest appearances from Funkadelic’s George Clinton and legendary hellraiser Keith Richards. Always outspoken, Perry now records from his garage, an unfurnished, wild space in which he covers the walls with angry messages—a protest against the political and social injustices he perceives in the world. To celebrate the release of Revelation, we sent photographer Horst Diekgerdes (whose credits include editorials in Numero, Another Magazine and Elle) to Perry’s unique kingdom, or, as Diekgerdes describes it, “his little Paradise.”
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