It is 2018 and I am so happy to be back. For those who are not following me on my social media @TheKSChronicles, on September 18th 2017 my country Dominica was devastated by category 5 Hurricane Maria. This caused loss of lives, infrastructure and utilities but thankfully myself and my family are ok and the island is returning somewhat to normal. Now on to the post.
I’m so pleased to feature the Signal Band as my first post of 2018. As a bit of context, Signal Band was formed in 2010 in Cross Street, Roseau. According to band leader Sheldon Alfred, it all began when two friends, Mosiah Challenger and Namin Rolle, who had the luxury of operating a band house, felt like they knew a solid bunch of men that had the talent to form a band.
Challenger and Rolle reached out and the individuals were quite receptive to the idea and thus the band was formed.
Prior to their first performance in August 2010, the group was named “Signal Band” by prominent Dominican Artist, Neijel “Nayee” Jno. Baptiste of WCK fame. Their founding members were Sheldon Alfred, Dernel Green, Darren Green, Marlycus Jno. Baptiste, Darvin Labad, Curtly Christopher, and Kelon Ophar.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Band Leader Sheldon “Shelly’ Alfred.
First off thank you much for agreeing to this interview….A lot of people consider Signal Band the new generation of Bouyon…What do you think when you hear this and do you all feel pressured in any way or excited?
No problem! Thank you for choosing to feature myself and the Signal team. Let me begin by thanking the people who have been supporting us and our music. Especially lately, as the band is growing in recognition, we are really excited about the feedback around our contributions.
For the most part, it really attached a sense of pride to the work and keeps us going. Ultimately, we are excited to keep on bringing forth a solid representation of the Bouyon Genre are eager to continue offering the music to our country, the rest of the Caribbean and the world. We can only make good out of the feedback, so with a good team to keep each other afloat and the presence of a good plan, there is no pressure!
What inspires Signal Band in terms of lyrics and rhythms..What is the process like when the band is creating a song?
We see music as very expressive piece of art that can draw inspiration from almost anything. We do not limit where we find inspiration as every song possesses its own roots and even the process by which a song is constructed may vary from song to song. For the most part, the general Signal lyrical formula is to find creative ways to craft ideas before they are delivered to listeners and/or viewers; whether through techniques of masking, wit, satire, etc. In terms of our production, we always seek to keep the development of writing, vocal arrangement and the instrumentation as parallel as possible.
As a group where do you all see the future of Bouyon and what you all can contribute to Dominica’s music and the Caribbean as a whole.
We know that Bouyon is being heavily scrutinized as of present, but we believe that there is hope for the genre once persons involved are conscious of their actions as it relates to the best interest of the music. We’ve heard the cries for unity and togetherness, but I believe the issue is bigger than that. The fact is that we will be unable to unite as long as we do not share a common vision.
The future of Bouyon needs a common vision. Signal Band is committed to continue playing its part in the provision of a high standard of Dominican music. We will also remain committed to promoting our country to the rest of the Caribbean and the world. We open our arms to rest of the Caribbean to allow us to use music as a platform for cultural exchange. That way, no island or culture gets left behind.
What would you say has been the challenging part of developing your brand and your sound?
I must say the lack of support and incentive for Dominican Culture as a whole has been a huge challenge for Signal Band, and other musicians and artists alike. We would really do well with more support from the relevant authorities in creating a solid foundation for our music. It’s a situation where we must have certain things in places before we can produce and market at a quality of the music out there. Rest assured, at Signal Band, we are doing what we can to invest in ourselves when it comes to equipment, marketing, developing expertise.
Notably, last month our producer, Dernel Green completed an Audio Essentials workshop in St. Lucia. The workshop was hosted by Precision Productions, prominent production company in Trinidad, and covered music business and distribution, music production and post-production.
Your new hit single ‘Ani Ba Yo Love’ tell us about it….how did you all come up with it and what was the process behind developing it.
Well, well, well: “Ani Ba Yo Love” was in interesting development and I’d firstly like to be honest and say that the end product was completely far off from its initial intention. I remember writing the song during a flight, where I really had the luxury of focusing solely on the pen and paper. In that period, I would listen to a lot of music by American Rapper “Designer” and was really inspired by his flow. I wrote and began to compose “Ani Ba Yo Love” at the typical Bouyon tempo, which is approximately 156 bpm.
I brought the idea to my band members, who immediately shut it down because they figured it was way too fast and had concerns about the message being lost as well as me having breathing issues while performing this one. (Lol)
For the post part, Ani Ba Yo Love taught me the importance of a solid, hardworking team; left to me, “Ani Ba Yo Love” would be the fastest Bouyon song for 2018 and would not have had the impact it is currently having. The success of the single lies in its toned-down groove, instrumentation, and the relatable message it entails! Thanks Team!
What do you consider the most challenging part of being a young Bouyon band and what can you tell us about upcoming projects of the band?
The biggest challenge has to be in convincing people to look past the stigma of Bouyon and give us a chance to be heard. Being young is already a challenge when it comes to people putting great trust in your craft. However, being a Bouyon band has brought difficulty in getting people to even lend an ear. Some are even drawn away just by seeing the word “Bouyon” when we label our material. It’s always rewarding though, when they give us the chance and return with excitement and great feedback!
I can only assure that the upcoming projects of the band will keep people intrigued about the idea of Bouyon Music and Dominican culture. It is our intention to keep on pleasing our current fans as we seek to broaden our fan-base through collaborations and event hosting. We are ready to take this up on our own and do what we have to do to get the music out there with as much impact as possible; we are still available for bookings and can be reached through Jerlani Robinson at email@example.com or 1.767.617.4091.
There has been huge talk about your collaboration with Soca icon Farmer Nappy. How did this collab come about?
The Farmer Nappy talks have been going on for a while now, and as one can imagine, it was not the easiest task to convince a prominent artist to leave his homeland for carnival to experience another. We were keen on having him and our management stayed in close contact with his. It consisted of a lot of consulting with management of soca artists we had already worked with, and paying close attention to our music, etc. All in all, it pays off to maintain a standard and we are happy to have Farmer Nappy on board! We will also be having Marvay, soca artist out of Barbados, as they have the same management team and were able to strike a deal as a bonus!
Another hyped topic has been Signal Band’s Lumi-Nation Carnival T-shirt Band. Where did the idea of the Lumi-nation band come from and what does the group hope to accomplish with this new band?
Lumi-Nation has been a thought lingering around the minds of the band’s management for a few years. Our manager and booking agent, Jerlani Robinson, is prominent cricketer and travels the Caribbean playing the sport. He drew inspiration from the uniqueness of themed events in the other islands and figured as a band with a notable unique sound, we should really seek to offer a unique product to our carnival, the Real Mas.
We hope that Lumi-Nation can be a platform for cultural exchange by offering patrons a “melting pot” of all the forms music associated with carnival in the presence of the excitement of lights and glow.
We urge everyone to support Lumi-Nation on Jouvert Morning, February 12, 2018. We will pre-game at the Newtown Savannah and head out to ILLUMINATE the streets of Roseau.
Registration is XCD 70.00 at Bunny’s Cakes N Catering on Mondays – Fridays and at Depex Color Lab on Saturdays. Patrons can also register via paypal at account: firstname.lastname@example.org for USD 25.99.
Book Signal Band Today!
Contact: Jerlani Robinson
Tele #: 1 (767) 617 4091
Current membership of Signal Band:
Sheldon Alfred – Lead Vocalist/Band Leader
Dernel Green – Lead Keyboardist/Producer
Darren Green – Rhythm Keyboardist/Designer
Darvin Labad – Lead Vocalist
Marlycus Jno. Baptiste – Drummer
Anwar Cadette – Lead Vocalist
Giovannie Green – Bass Guitarist
Raymond Sylvester – Sound Engineer
Jerlani Robinson – Manager