Only a couple miles outside of Kingston, along the beautiful coast of Jamaica is a place tucked away on the beach called Bull Bay. Urban legend is that Bob Marley himself used to wake up every single morning to drive from his house on Hope Road in Kingston, to make splashes in the local river nearby.
The Wilmot family lives here. They are a unique brand of Rastafarians living on the island who have pioneered the careers of countless talented musicians and surfers who were born here. Billy Wilmot, who is the father of the clan, created the Jamaica Surfing Association and has sculpted many national champions since then, including some of his own sons. Their actual house is also a hostel called Jamnesia which also hosts a bi-monthly open stage with the same name. The Jamnesia stage is pretty synonymous with initiating some of Jamaica’s best musicians, including but not exclusive to people like Chronixx, who last year appeared on Joey Badass’ album and will be on stage at Coachella this year as well as Protoje who has will also share this year’s stage.
The Wilmots have for the most part carved a niche for themselves that has become relevant in the city, mostly by living outside of the city. Fuelled by natural elements and a detachment from the hustle and bustle of the city, creativity and innovation have free way to roam. We got to interview one of the Wilmot sons, Inilek, who is both a national winning surfer and musician.
Check it out below:
Q: Tell me a little about you and your family, and why you live so far from the city?
Inilek: Actually, my grandparents bought this property in 1952. My Dad grew up here, so my siblings and I ended up living here also. My grandfather actually said that he came back to look at the land, and when he looked at the beach and the view of kingston he decided that he wanted to live here. So, thats why we live here. He made that decision. And to be honest, having grown up here I would not have wanted to grow up anywhere else.
Q: What made the experience unique for you?
Inilek: Living here is not just a space. City living is looking across the road into someone else front yard. Largely, that is the city experience, especially in Kingston. We grew up around the sea, so automatically I would not want to live far from the ocean. But we are pretty near to Kingston in general, so you know, its the best of both worlds. I feel like being at the coast, the natural elements makes you feel a bit more free.
Q: Tell me what freedom means to you and how your landscape has affected that?
Inilek: For the past two years I’ve been managing a fish sanctuary, and that was directly related to my experience with growing up by the ocean. My Dad also has a band and because of that both me and my siblings grew up around music, but growing up in a natural landscape pretty much opens you up to different things, for e.g. music; soundtracks aligned with nature. So, whereas if I lived in an urban place I would listen to urban music, living in the country pretty much sets the pace for listening to a lot of guitar-centric bands and other bands like Matchbox 20, Coldplay and Dave Mathews Band as well as soft rock stuff generally.
Q: And you also surf?
Inilek: Yes I do.
Q: Thats a bit unconventional for a Jamaican. Tell me how you got into that…
Inilek: My Dad learnt from someone older than him and he formed the Jamaican surfing association in 1998. So my dad used to bring us to watch him surfing when he was riding real waves. We started learning how to surf on belly boards; not to be confused with boogie boards. At fishing beaches you would have these cotton wood canoes, and even before my dad knew what surfing was when the canoes got old they would cut belly boards out of them and go belly surfing. So that was a thing that happened before we were even born and it later evolved into surfing. After a while he got us onto surf boards. When I was 9 I got into it a little more, and we competed in national championships both locally and abroad. I was the national champion like 4 times and my brother Icah was the national champion 7 times. We have some really good talent now so I’m not the best. We travel and we represent Jamaica. Our first trip representing Jamaica was in 2000. I haven’t been to a competition to represent Jamaica in about 3 years or so but I had a good run and I still compete locally from time to time.
Q: There’s a very iconic picture of you and your family floating around on the internet by Insight 51. Tell me about that…
Inilek: It was one of their advertising campaigns and they have a very distinct style. I think they're bought out now so their style isn’t that noticeable.
Q: I find those images really matched with your family aesthetic...
Inilek: Well, they actually had a concept and we made it genuine. They heard about our family before and so a lot of the stuff that they did was trying to bring our image and our lifestyle to the Australian market and also the international market.
Q: Do you think the impressionability of your family and lifestyle has anything to do with your detachment from the city? As well as the things you’ve achieved?
Inilek: Jamnesia (local music space for young musicians) and the surfing association was definitely started by my Dad. Jamaica has a lot of raw talent, he sculpted it into something realistic. The other kids parents definitely saw it as something that wasted their time. It came so naturally to us, because that way of thinking is all we’ve known. This is why I don’t think I could have lived in Kingston or the city in general because I feel the difference when I go there. The calm and serene that people feel when they come here I feel in reverse when I go there.