De youth dem talented fe true eh!
The first time I had occasion to listen to SoCarnival by Kylo and The Stylee Band was Summer 2015. My sister was catching me up on my brother’s exploits via the Interwebs and combing my hair. My brother, for the uninitiated, myself included, is Swanks, Riddim Programmer, Keyboard Man, Vocalist, and CEO of MPT (Marvelus Production Team), whose own BugZBugs set fire to this tune with his songwriting skills.
De youth dem ambitious too.
The mood was heady that night. Celebratory. My sister, a new bride. The music, an instant classic to my ears. You have to understand, I’m not up on my brother’s music. I still bop to his first, truth be told. So this was a reintroduction of sorts, to my beast of a brother and a public persona (Swanks!!!) that left me proud and primed to flow in my own lane.
I didn’t know if there was method to the badness. If the undercurrent would take me anywhere, deep or wide, or even venture beyond the feels of brotherly love.
All I knew, I felt SoCarnival.
Leave it on the doorstep of that 2015 summer energy, retreat-stylee, (yes, I went there) that I absolutely refuse to relinquish. It was that good to me. I couldn’t escape it.
“Your brother produced this. Your brother produced that.” Whenever I ventured out, wet or dry fete, I was inundated.
“I feel SoCarnival…”
Six weeks later. Touch-down in O-Town.
“I feel SoCarnival. Carnival. Carnival…”
Post Carnival and Festival energies (SKB and STX converging, like the love child they created). Post Boxing Day and Three Kings and the crowning of kings and queens, I still feel it. Of necessity, in 2016, I feel the need to ride with it.
“I feel SoCarnival. Carnival. Carnival. S O CARNIVAL…”
True story: I have never been to a J’ouvert jam. Never tramped in a troupe or behind a band. Never wined until my waist lost steam and then regained it (House parties don’t count. Lights out is a revelation). And certainly not with the mean momentum so proudly exhibited and witnessed this past 2015-2016 season.
I am not a Bachannalist. If you understand that it takes a specialist. A desire to communicate on a whole other level.
Still I feel SoCarnival. Still would stake my ownership of it. It takes a village. Straight outta _____. Yes!
So what exactly was this SoCarnival energy that kept resuscitating me, leaving me with a broad smile, beckoning me with a forward energy? I went straight to the source. I had to hear him tell it!
“It’s just a feeling. It’s like saying, ‘I’m feeling so GOOD. I’m feeling so HAPPY.’ Just a feeling.”
I am a believer, fast learning to pace myself with it. The journey has to feel the way you want the destination to feel.
Oh Brother, who are you!
I mean that with all humility. I remember this boy, gone burgeoning man and King via the promenade of the Road March win (We Trampin) and the crowning by his peers and their ‘Rents. Was this the boy who damaged every surface that would respond to the pounding of knives and forks and spoons and sticks, but especially butter knives in the creative force of his “music” making? Was this the boy who built a cardboard drum set, leaned up against the side of the house that saw his foot atop imaginary foot pedal, plying the air? Was this the boy who when he finally got the opportunity to play drums in church, like for real-real, would suddenly stop mid-song for lack of stamina? I refuse to believe in any Pentecostal Worship session it could be boredom. I could spill all kinds of bush tea, but all you need know is I have an affinity for the fella. I am the 1st and he is the last of my mother’s babies.
I met him first when he was 3 months old and I was newly returned from New York. I was the one who should have been all shiny and new. But he was the one, dimples blazing deep and wide, neck full of Ammens, chubby fingers holding my blouse hostage, front and back as he sat notched somewhere between my hip and heart, and I loved him like cooked food, saltfish and provision please.
I ask again, out loud: Oh Brother, who are you!? And of course, he laughs and I know we’re going places.
I’m just me. Ayeee!
So crazy. Is how you love music so?
I just love it. I always love it. I don’t know why. At first it was just something I always love. Honestly, I never really sat down and thought how far I can go, how much money I want to make. I never used to study music. I just used to do music.
How did the world, your fans discover you?
I’ve been making rhythms since 2006. Really it’s been word of mouth. One person tell one person tell another person. It spread like wildfire. Social media is a big help also. The future just looking bright.
Tell me all about the Road March win and ‘We Trampin’. Did you guys feel that expectation going into the season?
We didn’t go into the season thinking we going win Road March. But when we perform live and I see the impact on the crowd after J’ouvert, and how the whole J’ouvert was literal mass behind us, I knew we were going to win. Yeah dehman. Telling you, ain nothing like hearing them announce it. We were confident. I feel like we changed the game when it came to winning road march.
Really? Talk to me…
They (Carnival/Festival Committee) basically had you going in a direction where you had to be structured for the steelpan Festival. You had to be melody sensitive, so on and so forth. You had to pay attention to those details. Now, you could write a big tune today. No pressure. No rules. No can’t. You can really sing about anything and get away with it. Subliminal doesn’t exist. We can go straight, direct and talk about what we want. The steelpan gon find a way to play it.
What is your approach to music?
My approach to music has no boundaries. I want to make my own market. A create-your-own mentality. Rap. Chant over a Calypso beat. Confuse different styles and genres. The rhythm has so much going on at the same time right now. We kind of chop up everything and create what we want to talk about. Layers upon layers and shut down the whole island – the whole Virgin Islands.
This generation especially. Most of the songs is about sex, money, girls…
Wait, but that’s the Stylee energy too, right?
Yeah. Most definitely. And it also limits you. But you camouflage until you ready to say something. In order to get started you have to pretend to be something. You do that to get started. To get (air) play. But as I go along, I’ve noticed a lot of children and adults too who look to me, who look up to me.
It’s just a push now. If I can speak this much through music, why not push for the bigger cake, the greater goals. Be the best on other levels.
I feel that. I liket that. Two things. First, I saw that you recently performed one of Stylee’s latest jams #NoDrama at your Alma Mater, St. Croix Central High, what was it like to go back and perform for the youth?
It was mass! We were asked to perform. Pushing the Stop the Violence campaign. The children love us, so the Administrators felt like having us spread the message would be best. We were definitely happy to be apart. Everyone loved it and they are definitely ready for another round.
What is the greater goal and your personal motivation?
Like NBA is to basketball, Trinidad is to Calypso & Soca. It’s like the highest point. We mean to get there, using all means necessary. We will get there. I stay motivated by the competition. I let my motivation guide me, lead me.
2015 was one of the best years of the Band’s life. Straight up. Every move we’ve made til now is just a sampling of our growth. We’re busier than we’ve ever been. 2016 is already mass.
Nice. Very nice.
It’s a brand new Stylee to me. I dig the intellectual maturity. The visionary checking the shifting landscape of the music industry but mostly ownership of his territory. The gift. It encourages me.
I dig SoCarnival, as touchstone as it has become for me, as an important bridge, solidified by the artist’s expression. Permission granted, since some of us, myself included seem to hunger for it.
For a lil hometown glory, I am still reveling in it.
Kylo & Stylee Band are Kylo (Lead Vocalist) Swanks (Riddim Programmer/Keyboard Man/Vocalist) Mango Man (Drummer) Pollo (Bassist) Mr. B (Management) Karlo (Engineer) The Virgin Islands (Fans/Party Animals/Stylee Gang).