Nigel R Telesford

"Miracle" singer and 2020 Road March King, Kees Dieffenthaller joined Jamaican dancehall star, Teejay and R&B Princess, Mya in advocating for "authenticity" as a foundational pillar for all new and striving artistes.

The three artistes shared their knowledge, experiences and opinions on day two of the Island Music Conference held recently in Kingston, Jamaica during a panel discussion entitled "Music is a Mission: Stay Woke" as moderated by YouTube's Director of Black Music and Culture, Tuma Basa. 

Responding to a question from a Jamaican artiste participant and member of the audience, who expressed great interest in recording Soca songs and entering the Soca industry, Dieffenthaller welcomed the interest, but advised authenticity. He said:

"My only advice to you is do it like you mean it and don't look for or try and find the formula for what we sing about. Soca is: If somebody come with something real, it could be funny, fun, it could be about the festival or not... People take to that when somebody comes real and not just trying to rhyme wine with time or whatever. Once, you know, you're not just doing this formula thing because, hey, you know, they like this or that. Bring your ting to the table if you're doing Soca, more than trying to sound like a Trini... 

"You know, I always love Busy Signal's approach to Soca," he added. "Touch Road" to me is one of the best, you know, cause touch road is a Jamaican slang and then, its a Carnival thing also... So it's, you know, that kind of genius we need. Taurus Riley had a great song um, leh we make ah memory with Machel and he didnt not sound like Tarrus on it, and its a great song, so that's my only advice: just do you in Soca you know? Be real and authentic in the space and that will resonate."

Kees Dieffenthaller responds to a question from the audience during the Island Music Conference, held recently in Kingston, Jamaica. Click on image to follow @kesthebandofficial on IG

Teejay echoed this sentiment, saying:

"Is just like when ah Jamaican get signed to ah label and all of a sudden dem sound different like 'Oh yeah, I'm in London yiknow!' (Crowd chuckles) It's all about twanging... like some body doh remember them roots. That's why me respect Spice, meh respect Shaggy, Sean Paul, dem people who nobody never change dem (never change who they are). They rep the culture the same way cause ah this dem love and ah this them wanna hear... why would anyone wanna sign another Chris Brown right now? When you could be natural and as long as yuh keep it real, everything will work out yuh get me."   

Dieffenthaller prescribed that Soca was on the right path to establishing itself and responded to concerns expressed by Trinbagonian participant and Social Media Strategist, Rynelle Grandison about artistes being brave enough to experiment with different sounds and collaborations with different artistes. She asked Kees directly what he felt Soca needed to give it more mainstream appeal and he replied calmly:

Warner Music Recording artiste, "Teejay". Click on image to follow him on IG

"Just a lil more dimensions I would say. Soca music is ah offshoot of Calypso and Calypso was allowed to speak about social issues, parties, world issues, everything, across the board, it was the news of the people. I feel like Soca was like Dancehall is to Reggae, Soca is that to Calypso, so Soca took that role of keeping the party up and keeping the energy up, so with that it lost some of its dimensions so to speak. So in my opinion where the experimentation needs to come is that people need to be a little more brave when it comes to singing about something else. Um, because I'll tell you, I sing about all kinds of things, but the DJs will play what they like and what they are not frightened to play, but that doesn't stop me from producing love songs in the middle of a Carnival. I believe we need the dimensions. We need to be a little more brave with that. There's a lot of artists that I grew up with that made me interested in Soca because I didn't start off in Soca. I started in rock and R&B and certain artistes made me get into Soca. David Rudder was one of those artistes who had such a range: from a song like Haiti Im Sorry, to Rally Round The West Indies, then Bahia Girl and Calypso too, so he had a range and I feel like we need to do that in Soca now and everything will be alright, because the vibration is good, you know."

YouTube's Director of Black Music and Culture, Tuma Basa hosted the panel entitled "Music Is A Mission: Stay Woke". Click on his image to follow him on YouTube

Left to right: Tuma Basa, Mya, Kees and Teejay. Click on image to follow the Island Music Conference on IG.

R&B Princess, Mya shares her thoughts at the Island Music Conference 2024. Click on her image to follow her on IG

Video-sharing platform YouTube dominated the morning segment on Day 2 of the Island Music Conference, as they promoted their new "shorts" feature with an informative presentation from Amanda Agyapong, followed by an in-depth conversation/discussion featuring top YouTube Creators: ChineyK, Alyshia Powell of "The Powells", Naro Hart of The Fix, Becca Dudley of Deadly and host, Rachel Jackson.

YouTube's Program Manager for Black Music and Cultures, Adam McFarland drilled the idea of making YouTube shorts into the assembly, while also overseeing the first two panels and cementing the idea of YouTube being one of the best tools and platforms available today for artistes and content creators seeking to maximize exposure and revenue.

After lunch, the Honorable Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Olivia "Babsy" Grange shared her origin stories in the industry along with her most recent efforts to improve and contribute positively to the sector, before YouTube Music's Director of Black Music and Culture, Tuma Basa hosted a panel on Music being a Mission delving into the deeper motivations behind the career paths of music heavyweights in different genres, such as: R&B Star, Mya, Soca Icon, Kees Dieffenthaller and Dancehall star, Teejay.

The day closed with an engaging discourse on "So You Want A Record Deal" hosted by World Music Views' JR Watkis and featuring S-Curve Records' Founder, Steve Greenberg, along with David Melhado of United Masters and recent Def Jam signed dancehall artist, "Masicka". 

Masicka responds to questions during the Island Music Conference. Click on his image to follow him on IG