A lot of times in life you feel like you have to make a choice and I listened to a podcast earlier by my mentor in my head
Myleik Teele the founder of everything GREAT! Lol….
Where she said it doesn’t have to be either or, it can be either AND!
You can listen to the podcast here :
And it really resonated with me, so much that I think that’s what Brandon is doing….. ( If you are struggling with making a decision remember it can be either and!)
Its Carnival time in my beautiful twin island state, so of course for the blog feature Creatives in Carnival, I had to interview a soca artiste! When choosing some-one I wanted a newbie, no Iwer and Calypso Rose on di blog just yet….
This interview is with DJ Brandon Striker, who has a SUPERB offering for 2017 but you didn’t hear
LET’S GO! 4 Days to go!!!! WOIIIIIIII
TM: Tell us a little bit about you and your brand
BS: My DJ name and Stage Name is Brandon Striker and I have been with Jugglers which is a sound that was more popular in the late 90’s to the early 2000’s. I have been playing on the sound for approximately 5 years now. Having met with one of the owners Barry Perryman and after being on the sound for quite a while he moved to the United Sates with his family so it’s pretty much me handling things when he is not around. Last year (2016) I decided to try my hand at singing soca and I must say it was a great learning process and still is.
TM: What was that learning process, what have you learnt so far?
BS: With the music, I have learnt a lot of stuff. I have learnt that it’s hard. You would think that it’s easy being a DJ because you know what music works with the crowd but when you are actually writing a song you get into your own special zone and you end up falling in love with this song and don’t consider if somebody else would love it the same way that you do. You learn not to be too emotionally involved in a song and be more objective so that even if you like a part, you are able to take it out or simplify it for your audience. In terms of the inner workings of it, people refer to it as a mafia but it’s not really a mafia. In this industry there are moving parts that are intertwined, so a DJ might also be a producer and some DJs may sing as well. If you have a song and they had no involvement in the song then it’s going to be rough so a new artiste may say they getting “fight down” but there is really no motivation for a DJ to play your song if there are all these moving parts and they are not involved in any of them, so that was another learning point for me. I did my song independently because the price to do songs is insane.
TM: What is one secret of the trade that you are in, that you will like share with our readers?
My mantra of asking yourself, would you honestly be interested in said product or service you are offering. ( KAPOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW, but will they buy?)
TM: What is the price like to do a song?
BS: To do everything, writing and producing can start at $10,000 and go as high as $50,000. Just imagine spending that kind of money and your song may never get played.( Feel sick, or play plenty LOTTO/CASH POT/PICK FOUR MONEY HAFFI MEK)
TM: What inspired you to switch gears and try your hand at soca?
BS: I felt like I had maxed out my inner circle in terms of DJ’ing and needed a new avenue. The goal wasn’t to win Soca Monarch (STOP RIGHT HERE, I PERSONALLY HEARD A SOCA ARTISTE STATE THIS WAS HIS REASON FOR RETURNING SO KUDOS MR STRIKER) or anything like that. People who didn’t know me before were like “Who is this Brandon Striker guy, his songs alright” and “oh he’s a DJ too”. It was more of a marketing ploy but having done it I really like it and will definitely be doing more songs.
TM: What is the name of your offering for 2017?
BS: Cooler Ram ( Nice lil tune)
TM: What inspired this song?
BS: The song is based on real life. When you are in a cooler party and you look around and you realize that your “cooler ram”. A cooler party, something you prepare for and not wait till last minute to get your stuff so your cooler is actually fully ready. Then you reach the party, party ram, cooler ram and you just want to have a good time. It’s a feel good song.
TM: You wrote it?
BS: My brother and I actually went back and forth a couple times until we got the lyrics and sound we wanted.
TM: How long have you been writing or is this your first time?
BS: We used to play around before but this is the first time doing an actual song. That’s a next thing, I learned, there is a standard formula people use to write songs but I only realized that after the fact so you can definitely look out for bigger and better things.
TM: DJ’s in the Carnival fetes……how come you only hear certain songs and you don’t hear the others?
BS: There are two reasons. One, if the DJ has no affiliation with the song at all, unless the song is exceptional not even good, it won’t be played( This is CRAZY AND THIS RIGHT HERE IS WHY THE MAFIA WILL ALWAYS WIN). For example at Soca Monarch Semi Finals, they had some good songs in between that you never heard being played, so it has to be exceptional for people in the industry that had no part to play in the song to play it. Two, the barriers to become a DJ has dropped to almost nothing. Once you have a laptop and internet you could technically become a DJ, unlike before when you had to spend thousands of dollars on records and actually have that commitment to be a good DJ. Since those barriers have dropped, we call it playing for forwards. There are so many DJ’s now in a party that when you get that 30 minutes to an hour to play you can’t afford to make a misstep so DJ’s play in the “safe zone”. If they see one set of songs working they will stick to those songs so you may go to a party and here the same set of songs at least 4 times. I don’t believe it is right but that’s just the reality of it. ( hence the reason this blogger will be at home working on her business for Carnival, my money is to spend on the FABULOUS Miami Vacay)
TM: Do you play like that.
BS: No! No! No! I also work a 9-5 so I rather stay home than play like that. I am not going to play at a party using the same set as another DJ. I would rather take the criticism. ( Thank the lord, somebody have their head on right, what fetes jugglers at this weekend? hmmmmmmm)
TM: Do you have a formula? What do you do to entertain your crowd?
BS: I use older hits. My formula is a good formula for DJ’ing in my opinion. First, you get the crowd on your side by playing the latest hits, once you have the crowd in that momentum and that vibe then you can go into the older hits which a lot of people don’t do. They see that this set of songs is working so they stick with it till the end but I am willing to now switch out and go back into some older styles. Once you get the crowd in that momentum that is when you could experiment, when you actually have them already.
TM: How long have you been DJ’ing?
BS: A long time, over 10 years. I used to live abroad before so I used to DJ over there and then I decided to move back to Trinidad around 5 years ago. That is when I met up with Barry and decided instead of doing my own thing to just join his team.
TM: 10 years….what have you learnt and what would you be able to tell a younger DJ who is now getting into the industry?
BS: Don’t go into that comfort zone. There are so many DJ’s that if everyone is sounding the same promoter would be like “why should I hire you”. Also explore past music.
TM: Advice from the business aspect.
BS: Try to find a unique way of playing. Don’t be like everyone else because then you could easily be replaced. Hence the reason why a lot of DJs play for free or very little money.
TM: DJs play for Free?
BS: Trust me. They have this Instagram thing that they would just go and play for likes and you would think from looking at their social media that they are so good but behind the scenes if you talk to the promoters there are a lot of DJs begging to play in parties and events, some just for tickets. By differentiating yourself promoters would see that this DJ is worth the money. ( His music soooo good, that they play for FREE)
TM: So would you say it’s not a viable industry?
BS: I would say no, only a handful of people could say I am DJ’ing and I am not working otherwise. There are literally a handful of people who could survive just from DJ’ing, unlike before. You have to do other things like promote your own parties or produce. You can’t just DJ alone.
TM: 5 years from now where do you see your sound, your soca?
BS: Singing more songs. I hope to become a household name singing wise and I genuinely still love DJ’ing so hopefully I will be able to do both and not be an artiste alone.
TM: Carnival on the whole, do you think the music industry is holding back Carnival from the aspect of we only hear Soca three months in the year and then the rest of the year we hear everything else? Talking to different people in the creative industry I’m hearing more and more it’s really the radio stations and the persons in charge of that aspect who make that happen.
BS: I won’t blame them alone. This summer Erphaan Alves and three guys did a dancehall riddum and some other soca artistes we featured on it as well. It’s just to break the mindset that soca is only for carnival because some people after Carnival they would say I don’t want to hear soca again for like two three months. It would be rough to spend all this money to promote a song and the people are like it’s not Carnival time so they don’t want to hear that. I do believe though that it is going to change, slowly but surely. ( I love his enthusiasm, I’m not so sure nah…but anywho)
TM: Have you performed anywhere for the season and how was that?
BS: Actually my only performance was at my office function. Normally we get the big names in the business to perform but due to cut backs instead of having nothing they asked me to perform. They heard the song on the radio a couple times so they had no problem asking me. It was very interesting. And then we have our own party called “Cups” so I am definitely performing there.
TM: How is the comparison as a DJ as opposed to an artiste performing?
BS: It’s definitely not the same. There is a degree of comfort but it’s not the same. I like the process of making the song, the lyrics, coming up with stuff. Performing will come when I get the reaction and people actually know the song then I may fall in love with that part but for now it’s the actual process and going from writing the song to hearing the final product.
TM : How do you balance your entrepreneur life, social life and family life?
This is very hard, in my limited free time I mostly want to just stay at home but I try to balance it (not always successfully).
TM: How did you feel the first time you heard it on the radio?
BS: It’s a touching moment knowing that you actually sat down and wrote this and for people to actually play this and mixing it in with other songs. The first time it was a slow song so they mixed it in with Machel’s “Fast Wine”. That felt good. ( He was smiling here, proud moment)
TM: How can some-one get in contact with you re: your services?
On all social media search and add me by searching for “Brandon Striker” . Also you can reach me at email@example.com
Yes it’s a long interview but its sooooooo good!
Here is Brandon’s BIG BIG TUNE!
Until next couple of days ( YESSSSS I HAVE MORE)
If you have questions….
Send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org