Janelle De Souza
In Aaron Duncan’s opinion, the growth of calypso has slowed but he intends to continue to pay respect to the artform in his music.
“Calypso is at a space now where it is known as something that was loved. I want youths and everyone else to love calypso the same way.
“In the music I do now, like Play Soca, and Back to Basics, it will always have that calypso feeling, the calypso vibe that not only the adults and the legends and old heads would love, but you could also see the youths dancing and enjoying the music. I think that is something calypso has lost over a period of time.”
The 18-year-old soca artiste, who began his career singing calypso, believes people now have a shorter attention span and traditional calypsoes may be too long for people to get into a groove.
“I think the first 30 seconds of a song should let you know if you want to listen to more of it or not. I think four verses and four choruses, seven minutes of a song, is too much. I think that plays into why calypso is not at the forefront where it should be.”
He said a lot has to be done for there to be any change in the genre. An individual can adjust their music but for the “older heads” and others in the fraternity to accept and make a change to something they have been doing for years and love, would be difficult.
For Duncan, it is easy to adjust because he grew up listening to and performing both calypso and soca. And he believes most of the recent soca has been a commentary on what is happening in TT and the world, especially his work.
For example, in his songs Back to Basics and Play Soca, he paid respect to the late Brother Resistance (Lutalo Masimba) and Super Blue (Austin Lyons) respectively.
Play Soca was released on October 4. He co-wrote the song with CollegeBoy Jesse (Jesse Stewart), produced it and directed the music video. He also contributed to Royalty Designs’ graphic design and video editing.
“The song expresses how true soca lovers are feeling right now. There’s a lot of talk about whether or not we will have a Carnival in 2022 but I’m trying to say that the Carnival spirit and energy is within us. There wouldn’t be any Carnival without us.
“Anytime we Trinidadians, Caribbean people or soca lovers hear soca, if the song is good, you’re going to see some part of us chipping, bouncing, tapping. No matter if we try to fight it, our body, our minds will always show that we are soca people. Soca is part of us.”
He said Super Blue is an icon whose presence is felt when he is on stage and he and CollegeBoy Jesse wanted to pay homage to that.
He added that people seem to like when he pays his respect to icons in song but he may not do that often because he does not want to be repetitive so as to have people expect it from him and put him in a box.
Instead, he intends to do any music he likes, try new things, and show his versatility. In fact, his new song, which he expects to release in November, does not have the “calypso flavour” or energy even though calypso its foundation, as it is with all his music.
In addition to recording new music, Duncan has been working on improving his writing skills, learning how to produce music, and has ventured into graphic designing and video editing during the pandemic.
He explained that he started working on music production in 2018. At that time, he built a beat and sent it to Kit Israel of AdvoKit Productions. Israel heard it, liked it, and encouraged him to continue.
So far, he has fully produced and released five songs and is focusing on building his repertoire.
“I haven’t started producing for anyone as yet but I will be grateful to do that at any time.”
Duncan stressed that he is not moving away from singing, but is expanding as he wants to be able to do everything with respect to his music.
“Everything to do with music, I want to be able to do it – from the writing to the producing, mixing mastering, even to the business side. My mission is to be able to have everything under my belt to have better management of my music.”
He said producing enables him to imbue his music with his feelings instead of having someone try to interpret what he feels.
“I like to do music people could relate to and feel. That’s my mission since I started producing. Now, I have more control in what I do.”
Duncan said he would like to have improved significantly in his writing, producing, mixing and mastering by the next official Carnival season, but he will be ready if TT has a Carnival 2022.
“I miss performing, I miss doing all those things, but a dream for me is, when I go back out to perform, I could actually perform my own written and produced songs.”
He recognised that not everyone would like his music and has prepared himself for that as best as he could.
“Because you put your heart and soul into a song and love it, doesn’t mean that everyone is going to love it. You can’t be an artist and think all your songs will work, especially if you’re now growing into it. It’s hard to accept, but it’s the reality.”
Duncan is also in the second year of a four-year bachelor’s programme in music technology at the University of Trinidad and Tobago. He said he did not enjoy attending school online and would only truly start to learn when he is allowed to return to physical classes.
Given his passion for music, it is not surprising that he has every intention of making it his full-time career.