I’m here at the rehearsal of One the Band. Never heard of them? You will. Presenting One the Band. The UK live music band who wants to introduce you to (or in some cases reintroduce you to) the beauty of live authentic sound of soca. And I am not talking about singers with backing track. Which is cool. But, no, I am talking about a musician/musicians with the backing of a full BAND, with the drums, the bass, keyboards, percussion, with the full talents and skills of individuals coming together as one entity, live, in that moment to bring us beautiful soca music.
Some of the members of this band are known to the UK soca community and are quite visible. One the Band consists of Konata and Ms Desire as lead vocalists. Then there is Colin Huntley (drums) and Shawn Marcellin (Keyboards) who have years of experienced been behind the scenes playing with various major artists and bands such as Atlantik, Roy Cape and Byron Lee. Also included in this band are Techan Cozier (bass guitarist) and Neil Huntley (percussionist) who I am fairly certain we will come to know.
How did One The Band begin? Collin: One The Band started off as an idea of mine, as having a band in the UK that would work with the UK and international artists who need backing when they perform. However, we write and produce our own material as well. This team has been together as a band for just over a year.
What is the main goal/wish for the band? Collin: The aim is to get live music back into the fetes, events. We want to get rid of the stigma that artists of England and international artists when performing here can only use backing tracks as there is no alternative. We want to show that there is an international band of the highest calibre in the UK who could back you on stage.
How would you describe your sound? Collin: I would say our sound is the authentic sound of soca.
What do you make of soca mixing with all the other genres? Collin: It’s still soca, whatever tag you put to it. Remember, our music comes from different backgrounds, there are infusions of different styles of music. Our music has the African feel to it, the riddim, the percussion, that brings the Afro feel in it. Afro, bashment, they all just fit in.
It has been said that rock music must have a guitar. So what must be included in the music for it to be known as soca? Neil: It’s the riddim. All the various types of soca you mentioned before, since it is all based around soca, it has that riddim. Whatever sounds you use, however you structure it as long as it has the riddim, it is soca music.
Colin: When calypso started, it started with people beating a bamboo or a piece of tin pan and making a riddim and people use to dance to that. It has evolved now where it has gotten electronic. So it’s about the riddim.
Desire: That’s why at the end of carnival when the music stops, you always have somebody beating something and you are just going down to the riddim.
Shawn: And that is what we are going to do. We are going to incorporate the modern and bring back some of the old riddim, fuse it together and create a new sound.
When does carnival mean to you? Ms Desire: Carnival is life! I love carnival. In the UK, it is a bit more watered down because we can’t be as more free as you can be in the Caribbean. You know in the Caribbean, it is an actual thing, they will stop everything and they know these months are dedicated to doing this. In the UK it is not quite like that, but to me it is life, freedom, a way to express myself.
Techan: To me, it is the ending of the season. It is the culmination of the season, the shows, the tents, the fetes. I think we should have more days leading up to Notting Hill Carnival.
Neil: For me carnival is culture! I only came to the UK when I was twelve from Trinidad so I was in the heart of it and seeing everything that goes on. To me it is all about culture. I remember watching my dad on TV playing drums. For me that was the essence of carnival, the live music, the brass festival and all of those things so we are trying to bring back the whole live music experience of carnival in the UK..
What is are you working on right now? What is the future? Collin: We’re doing the UK soca Monarch. We are going to be the back up for all the artists competing there. We will also be doing a set so people can get an idea of what we do and who we are. Then we will the opening act for Kes the band at the Indigo on the 23rd of August. We also have Welcome Wednesday and we have our own fete, The One fete on the 3rd of September at Nambuka on Hollway Road. Artists will be Konata, Ms Desire, Triniboi Juicy, Terrah Dan and new artists to get them into the new vibe.
How does one get involved soca live music if they wanted to? Shawn:You have to have some sort of foundation in music. But the main thing is that soca must be on your play list. You must be listening to it constantly. Because no matter how good you are on whatever instrument, if you don’t have that vibe, it can never be the same.
Colin: Soca is not just something like ‘I like it, I don’t listen to it all the time, but I want to do it. You have to be dedicated, you have to eat, sleep and drink it too. And you have to learn the history about soca music. It is not just knowing what’s happening now. A lot of old songs don’t play in fetes now and a lot of people don’t know any soca music past 2009-2010.
Ms Desire: Some don’t know the history. For example, I can sing but I can’t go to a rock concert and suddenly I am a rock musician. I don’t know the phrasing of the rock genre, I don’t know the feeling of rock, I don’t know the history. You have to know and love soca.
One The Band wants to give the UK and European Soca community more live music. We may not recognise it (or want to recognise it) but London’s Notting Hill Carnival is gaining much more prominence internationally. More international carnivalistas are criss crossing the globe to participate in our carnival and come to our carnival related events. It is being put on the wish list as one carnival to attend. Bringing live music to the UK community and industry could further enhance the carnival experience for UK and international masqueraders. I hear them rehearsing their set for the Kes The Band concert next month. I am grinning like a Cheshire cat. One The Band is ready.
For more information on One The Band, please visit their facebook page One The Band.