Thursday 29 October, 2020

Badjohn Republic aims for global stardom

It is the week before Machel Montano drops his EDM-soca, road march contender “ Waiting on the Stage” and the Precision Productions studio in Palmiste, San Fernando, is buzzing.

The excitement is palpable in the small room as Keegan Taylor, Kyle Phillips and Dominic de Bourg give Loop a sneak peek into the song which was released last week.

This trio, together with one absent person, Khion  Khadence De Las, comprises the newest production outfit in Trinidad and Tobago, Badjohn Republic.

A label signed under Precision Productions, owned by Kasey Phillips, Kyle’s older brother, Badjohn Republic has one lofty goal: to become the number one production group to produce music with a global appeal from Trinidad and Tobago.

“Waiting on the Stage”, written by Keegan and produced by Kyle and Khion,  is the group’s debut effort but although the song is intended to be a road and stage song, the group is looking beyond Carnival to the stages of Ultra and Tomorrowland, where they want to share the same space with the likes of Major Lazer.

With major foreign DJs and producers looking to merge our sounds with theirs, Badjohn Republic believes they are uniquely poised to produce sounds with global appeal with Caribbean influences.

“I would personally like to be part of an artist crossing to a level he wants to be. If Machel in the soca realm and he want to cross over and win a Grammy that is something we want to be a part of,” says Keegan.

“We want to go from here and go out. Everybody like foreign thing so let us be better than the foreign thing and show them it could be done here,” adds Kyle.

Their attitude is perfectly captured in their name, Badjohn Republic. Influenced by a  historical character called John Edwards, the name sums up their intentions in the music industry.

“He was an old British soldier who came to Trinidad and he got into a lot of brawls and fights but it is because he was always defending something. For us, we are badjohns because we are defending an aspect or an idea in that we are brave enough to create something in a game that requires change. We are looking for more soldiers to create a movement of positive change,” explains Taylor.

“We are badjohns, we can do what we feel,” says Kyle, stating that they aren’t genre-specific when it comes to music but everything they do is rooted in the Caribbean.

For Carnival specifically, they want to return the energy to the season that seems to be lacking.

The group contains enough talent to leave their footprint on the annual festival.

Keegan, the first-ever Junior Soca Star and finalist on Synergy Soca Star, is a prolific singer, songwriter and producer.

Kyle, the son of legendary producer Kenny Phillips, was already behind the boards in the studio before he could walk.

A performer, songwriter and composer, Khion is an adjunct lecturer at the University of the West Indies. He holds a Masters in Music degree from Northern Illinois where he focused on Steelpan, Ethnomusicological Research, Conducting and World Music and plays multiple instruments.

Dominic brings the visual interpretations to the group’s projects. Driven by music, art, and storytelling, he is a Creative Director, writer and graphic designer. After years in advertising, he brings the visual aesthetic and marketing direction to Badjohn Republic.

“A song is not just a song,” says Dominic of his role. “It is an experience of emotions and I just want to represent that.".

As he pops into the studio, Kasey says of his protégés that they are the new secret deadly weapon to come out of Precision.

“They will cover ground that they want to specialise in. We hold one corner and they will another,” he says.

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