Jayron Remy is not your typical, young radio disc jockey with a faux foreign accent who abandons his native, indigenous music to play hip hop and dancehall tracks. Known on the airwaves as DJ Rawkus, Remy took a bold decision to produce a series of calypso mixes, all October long, in celebration of Calypso History Month.
From the onset of our interview Remy proclaimed: "The purpose of this series of mixes is to enlighten, educate and entertain audiences using the varying forms and styles of calypso. My inspiration was fuelled by the clear neglect for our traditional art form that most of the 'urban' radio formats follow, and those who directly influence the youth of our nation from an entertainment point of view. I have set out to share knowledge through my mixes."
So, who is actually DJ Rawkus? Remy is now 28 and comes from Simeon Road, Petit Valley.
He told the T&T Guardian, "I grew up with my mom but both my parents played a big part in my musical interests. I attended Holy Name Prep and St Mary's College. My father used to play a lot of records and his collection was mostly of calypso and Michael Jackson. Mom used to work with Carib Special Events and sometimes she would take me to work with her so I would see when the artistes were setting up on stage and doing sound checks. I was fortunate to see all the bands, like Shandileer, Sound Rev and Atlantic doing sound checks. I just enjoyed being around music."
Remy's cousin, DJ Magnificent Sounds (Maurice Jackman), was also influential in him choosing his career path. He explained: "My cousin was working at 98.9FM at the time and would sometimes take me along to his overnight shifts. Eventually I learned to deejay through him. I then went to the Institute of Broadcasting Careers (IBC), run by Percy Parker, and started a DJ group (Lil Ruff Neckz) in Form Four at St Mary's. We used to play at events like St Mary's Mayfair and house parties. My cousin asked me to join his group, which I did with Gonzo from my group. We ended up landing our own overnight shift at 98.9FM, doing that for a couple years. Eventually, Gonzo and I left and started Rage (Rawkus and Gonzo Entertainment). This went well for a time before the radio station was closed and Boom Champions (94.1FM) and Red 96.7FM opened up. Gonzo was invited to join Boom Champions and I went to university."
Remy attended the New England Institute of Art in Boston, majoring in sound engineering and production. While resident in the States he also worked on a ship, doing dinner cruises on the Spirit of Boston. "That experience widened my knowledge in music," said Remy. "I learned about a lot of songs that I didn't even know existed and deepened my appreciation for all music. I also interned at Boom Champions whenever I came home on vacation."
Remy gained even more popularity when he became a part of the 3Canal family. He said: "While at St Mary's College I actually emceed a fashion production at the college. Wendell Manwarren of 3Canal was directing and that's how I met him. A few years later he asked Gonzo and me to DJ in the 3Canal's Jab in the Box production in 2004. When I returned to Trinidad in 2007, I joined Boom Champions as a production engineer, and would sometimes double as a disc jockey. I was also offered a job with 3Canal's Cut and Clear band."
This union proved to be an upward curve and further learning experience for Remy professionally. He said: "We went to Spain for Womex in 2008 and did a number of gigs after that with me as the monitor engineer. I graduated to become 3Canal's DJ, then became their sequencer, all the while still working with Boom Champions."
Always one to push the envelope, Remy wasn't satisfied with being just a radio producer and was always looking for ways for the music and brand to evolve. He said: "Among the things I did at Boom Champions of which I am particularly proud is a Carnival campaign in which the top-of-the-hour featured modern soca artistes doing covers of older calypsoes and soca songs.
For example, we had Shurwayne Winchester doing Sparrow's Jean & Dinah and Fay-Ann Lyons doing her father's Soca Baptist. "Beside the fact that I love blending the old with the new, I knew I was on the right track when Lennox Toussaint (veteran entertainment specialist) and Anya Ayoung Chee both complimented my work. We also did a campaign for an eco tour. That campaign turned into a monster in a good way. It went viral. Through the kind of work we were doing, though a lot of it was about party ads, we always tried to balance it with some positive stuff, under the guidance of station manager O'Brian Haynes."
Becoming restless, Remy was ready to move on once more. He said: "I stayed with Boom Champions for about five years and then it got politically awkward to continue our relationship. I felt that I wanted to do more. I spent a year or two searching for that thing and so I developed Iheart T&T, a concert.
The first one was held last November 30 at Napa. It was a great show but was poorly attended. It featured 3Canal, Gyazette, Tim Starr, Muhammad Muwakil and Keegan Maharaj. The concept of this particular production was to assemble artistes who had the pulse of the country and some of the veterans.
"The second show was held in July, again at Napa, featuring Relator, Mr Shak, Chromatics and the 2 Cents Movement. This was better attended and it was just as great as the first. I was particularly proud of this one especially to have Relator on the cast, as he is someone I look up to. The highlight of that show was the performance of Relator's Radio Stations by Mr Shak, Chromatics and Relator, followed by an extempore segment between Relator and Mr Shak."
Commenting on his current acclaimed online series of calypso mixes, Remy said: "At the beginning of October I heard that Calypso History Month was being observed by Tuco. I was listening to one of those urban radio stations while on the road and it was featuring a month of American R&B and hip hop artistes. In my head I was angry that, in Calypso Month, this station, which has the power and control of the nation's youth, would use that power, instead of using it to attract and inspire local youth to indigenous music, chose to show and influence them with American culture and music. I then took it upon myself that if nobody else would highlight our music in the month set aside to commemorate our music, then I would."
Remy's series is accessible on You Tube and Facebook, the music tracing calypso from its roots to current day. He said: "I opened the series with the story of calypso, then went into the struggle of calypso, moving on to the usage of calypso as a vehicle of protest. The third edition was more relaxed and featured the craft and beauty of double entendre, and finally climaxed with the purpose of calypso to tell stories and bring the news. I did this to educate and provide entertainment, especially for young people. I would like to target people my age and older."
Remy is currently completing a course, titled Mentoring by the Masters, facilitated by the Ministry of the Arts & Multiculturalism. He intends to use his experience and newly-acquired knowledge to enhance and embellish his annual production."
To hear the calypso remixes that Dj Rawkus has done, visit his Facebook page: DJRawkusRemy or look for him on YouTube: MrRawkusMusic.