Now is the time for Caribbean Dance Music (CDM) producers, artists and DJs to come together to determine what the genre entails, says promoter Karrilee Fifi. It is for this reason she has organized the second annual Caribbean Dance Music Conference, scheduled for August 12-14.
Fifi is the promoter behind some recent popular dance parties, including Life in Colour, Sunset Festival and Light Republic. In 2014, she established CDM Generation, and the Turning Point Arts & Music Foundation in 2016, as platforms for CDM practitioners.
"Just for them to have another avenue to put their music out and really support them, because in T&T specifically there's really only support for the soca industry, and there's a lot more talent beyond soca."
She said while CDM can vaguely be defined as a fusion of Caribbean music elements and dance music elements, producers and artists differ in their definitions.
"The producers will always say that it's the beat that defines what the genre is, but if we're trying to own this Caribbean Dance Music as one Caribbean, and really put an umbrella term over it, the artists' argument is that when you put a Caribbean vocal on it, it should be also classified as CDM, so it can go either way."
The conference, which is geared towards DJs, producers, artists, songwriters and music enthusiasts, begins on August 12 from 1-7 pm at UTT Chaguaramas. In the lineup of speakers are Jose Abreu from Sony Entertainment speaking about digital distribution and Jason Gillette from Ultra Records speaking about licencing and synchronization.
The keynote speaker is Andreea Magdalina, founder of shesaid.so, an all-female foundation that supports women in the music industry, and former VP of Content at MixCloud. Other speakers include Richard Balgobin, a certified Ableton technician, and Johann Seaton, part of the band Ultimate Rejects.
Bad Royale, a four-man DJ producer group and featured DJs, will also be doing a workshop-type production seminar and Bunji Garlin and Fay-Ann Lyons are expected to perform. Musician Carl "Beaver" Henderson will be the host and moderator.
Following the conference, the group Children of the Coup will be presenting an art, music and fashion event called Oil Down, from 4 pm-3 am at Euphoria Lounge.
The main event on August 13 is a party featuring DJ group Bad Royale, which will be held at Tzar Nightclub & Roll Rooftop, Ariapita Avenue, Woodbook. Between 9 pm and midnight there will be a live arts segment, where people can come in and express themselves using different art materials.
"Roll Rooftop is going to be straight dance music, with DJs like Valstar, Jerry West, Matthew Charles and Nick Farah. Tzar Nightclub will host a mix of CDM DJs, radio DJs and the main act, Bad Royale, with the artists that will be performing with them, like System 32, Ultimate Rejects, Colony, 1st Klase, etc. We'll probably have about 20 DJs in total that night."
The Yacht Cruise on August 14 will be a cool-down session on Island Vibes' yacht, hosted by DJ Valstar.
Fifi said she chose to model the three-day event after music festivals she has attended internationally. "The vibe you get there, it's all peace and love and good vibes, and you don't get that at the average cooler party, except during Carnival. I think events need to strive more for that type of vibe, because when you're bringing people together it should be for something more special and not just to make money."
Fifi chose the name Turning Point because she wants attendees to realise that now is the time for them to put in the work and build a career, as they have these different platforms and support systems to educate them on how to actually monetise and market their music
"The quicker we can get them to realize that you can have a successful career in the music industry, the better it's going to be for everybody."She said CDM isn't a fad or a trend, and it is ever evolving.
"There are already sub-genres of CDM, so you'll find there's a mix of trap, which is a sub-genre of dance music, and dancehall: they're calling it trap-hall. Similarly, heavy bass music and dancehall, they call it bass-hall. Even Bunji had started something with Richie Stephens called ska-tech, which is a fusion of ska and techno. There's another thing called future dancehall."
Fifi said it is up to Caribbean music professionals to understand there's a really huge opportunity for collaboration.
"I've already had people from Belize, Martinique, Jamaica, Barbados, reaching out, saying that they love this movement, they understand exactly what the vision is, how can they get involved, how can we swap DJs, how can we support each other in terms of events, so I can already see that it is something that is going to keep growing.
"As Caribbean talent, we know it better than anybody, we've grown up on this music our entire lives and even before us, so there's no reason why we shouldn't be doing it the best, there's no reason why our artists or our producers shouldn't be working with the international artists."