If Carnival brings Caribbean feeling to the UK, why do people from the islands themselves love it so much? Just ask Teddyson John...
WITH ONLY days to go before one of our musical landmark events, we continue to look at the people and characters that make it what it is.
This week, we go international and catch up with a man who has spent the past decade carving out a name for himself in the competitive world of soca.
Teddyson John hails from St Lucia’s capital Castries, and began his musical journey in the world of gospel before transitioning to soca via R&B.
He is a multi-instrumentalist, playing drums, bass and keys. This year’s Carnival represents a welcome return to Notting Hill for him.
“It’s my first visit for a while – since 2008, actually. My first visit was on a small scale for me because of where I was in my career – I had just started in soca, so not many people knew of me,” he tells me from his home in St Lucia as he prepares to come to the UK.
“This time it’s a bigger deal as I have had some growth in my career since then and now I can put on a full show, giving the audience a selection of my material from over the years.”
So how important is the Notting Hill Carnival for those on the other side of the world, and those who live among the music and culture every day?
“It’s a must-do – it’s something Caribbean people should try to experience, as the vibe is incredible and it represents who we are and what we do,” he tells me.
“I have a lot of fans in the UK and I’m happy to be jumping on the ‘One Famalay’ show in London alongside Machel Montano, Bunji Garlin, Skinny Fabulous and many others of the genre’s leading lights.
After that, we will be on the road and I’m looking forward to reconnecting with the people in the UK.
“I’ve been able to go to other carnivals this year and so far it’s been very positive – it’s amazing to see the music spreading across the globe.
“One of my highlights was going to Jamaica carnival for the first time. It was definitely different, with the soca and reggae cultures mixing together. It was amazing to see, and I feel it is very progressive.”
But he says confidently: “Of course, St Lucia carnival is my favourite – we had the biggest attendance we have ever had this year, and we are hoping to make that even bigger next year.”
There is something different about Teddyson and his approach in the often frantic world of soca.
“My music is based on inspiration – there is a lot more than just the jumping and the waving in soca,” he says.
A massive turning point came in Teddyson’s career in 2016. His track Allez made a massive impact internationally, and placed him on the musical map.
Bunji Garlin jumped on the remix and that pushed the track even further.
“It was a good feeling for me to get that kind of love. Other Lucian artists like Ricky T and Invader have been trying to get our sound out there and I was happy to be in the ranks with them. Now artists like Motto have been pushing the Dennery Segment sound and people are starting to embrace what we do and who we are as a musical nation.”
The Dennery Segment sound is something we have supported in the column, and the energy and vibes it brings is crazy! However, it hasn’t changed Teddyson’s approach to making his music.
“I’ve always stuck to what I do – a perfect example of this is Vent. It was in the heat of other Dennery Segment songs that were doing well but I persevered with what I believe in and feel like I got the rewards.
“I did a Dennery song this year called Crème De La Crème but I did it in my style instead of something that wasn’t true to me.”
True Carnival connoisseurs will know about “St Lucia Corner” (each island has a corner that they take over and nationals from that island flock to). Does Teddyson know about this?
“Yeah man, I know all about it and will definitely be touching down there!”
If you are a Lucian, look out for him doing his thing on your corner!
Credit: Voice Online -- https://www.voice-online.co.uk/article/seani-b-speaks-st-lucian-soca-star-teddyson-john