Wednesday 26 February, 2020

Chinese Laundry replies to naysayers of soca with unity song

When news emerged last weekend about Dr Fuad Khan’s comments about soca influencing domestic violence, Tony Chow Lin On felt hurt and enraged.

He had spent his Christmas into the New Year working on a song of unity and togetherness and the former health minister’s comments hurt him to the core.

“You want to put the burden of responsibility on Shadow, Ras Shorty, Superblue? So much people contribute to this process, create so many beautiful songs, I say let it be and let me work on my creation and in my own way we will answer with my release. See if this song is encouraging domestic violence,” said Chow Lin On, known widely as Chinese Laundry.

That song is ‘We Are One’, a duet featuring Destra Garcia and former X Factor contestant Olatunji Yearwood.

Chow Lin On wrote the song in collaboration with Keegan Taylor of Ten Artistry who has written songs such as ‘Busshead’ and ‘Waiting on the Stage’.

Rishi Mahatoo of Maha Studios produced the song.

‘We Are One’ released in two versions, a Festival version designed for the road and a slower World Beat version, continues the tone of Caribbean love and unity set by ‘Famalay’ last year.

“This is not the first time I am writing this song. The first time I wrote this was ‘Colours’ in the 90s. It was about integration and harmony in Trinidad and Tobago, respect for every ethnicity.

“One of the things that are dear to me is that I grew up in Sangre Grande on Ojoe Road and it is a shoulder to shoulder community, I grew up, for the most part, the only Chinese family in the area and everybody living as one. I didn’t know about race hate to the extent that when I started to get older I started to miss how I felt when I was younger so when I started to express myself as an artistes ‘Colours’ was one of the first songs I wrote and performed,” he told Loop.

Following a series of incidents in his life which he did not want to elaborate on, Chow Lin On said he migrated from Trinidad but never felt at home abroad.

“You ask what is my purpose? My purpose is to help my country understand how beautiful we are. Every time I feel to run I remember the beautiful things about T&T. A small few want to test our faith but for the most part, I see the beauty and the majority really want to live together. The political system that evolved tends to create that whole divide.

“So because of those things I ask what could I do? We are one, that is the theme of Ojo (radio station) cause this is what I want to say throughout my work,” he said, referencing ‘Omalay’ the chutney soca song with Ravi B and Superblue as another effort to forge unity.

“The whole idea to put it in a chutney was to highlight how beautiful it is when Indians and Africans come together and when you read the repurposed lyrics written by Ravi and Superblue, even though they wrote it, it was my concept. ‘Omalay’ is the second time I influenced the art to carry the message.”

Chow Lin On said ‘We Are One’ seems timely given similar expressions in the Carnival. Peter Minshall’s ‘Mas Pieta’, he said, has that as one of its themes, as does Machel Monday, which he is producing.

“It makes sense that I and all my circle have the same thing to say,” he said.

Commenting on the choice of singers, Chow Lin On said he signed Olatunji under his Chinese Laundry Management Company and he was his obvious first choice, their relationship going back to when Ola worked on 96.1.

He thought of Destra for the track but she was in St Croix at the time and was not going to be returning in time to record for his initial release date of January 7, his birthday.

“I thought about other options and I decided to wait on her and it was the best decision because it is the rekindling of a beautiful bond and relationship since we worked together on a lot of her hit songs in the past.”

It was Destra who gave him the idea to record two versions of the song.

“She said Chow I hearing this as a power as well and she start to sing and tapping on the car and I said you just gave me the greatest idea of Carnival 2020.”

Ola came up with the ‘Ommi Nommi” lines, which Chow Lin On believes is apt since Omi in Yoruba means water, the thing that binds Caribbean people and creates that unity.

Check out the two songs here and let us know your thoughts.


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