Created in Ja, invited abroad
Local creatives have develop their own brands with distinct images, ambience and sounds and have found themselves invited to curate reggae and/or dancehall culture in foreign spaces. Like Canadian rap star Drake developed his own camp of artistes, artists, engineers and producers, housed under the OVO label, young local creatives (like the In.Digg.Nation) have banded together to develop internationally sought-after content that is distinctly, indigenously Jamaican.
Yaadcore, the resident In.Digg.Nation deejay, was scheduled to perform in Ethiopia on Saturday, March 24. "This will be my third trip to Ethiopia. This trip, one of the premiere promoters who has brought in Protoje, Chronixx, and Morgan Heritage, reached out to me to play at an event there, and they want to brand it Dubwise," Yaadcore told The Gleaner.
Later this month, Kingston's newest creative incubator, New Wave, will be heading over to Trinidad. "The first thing, when going abroad, what's important is making sure it (creative product) is solid where it lives. So Kingston is where New Wave lives. We've been spending a year and half (or two) building momentum for New Wave, while looking on other places that it can be fruitful. Trinidad as a fellow Caribbean country is always a good jump-off point for us to merge talents," deejay Protoje told The Gleaner.
New Wave offers a platform for aspiring recording artistes and other creatives to demonstrate their skill and network. "There's always hopes of expanding it, but if you focus on what's in front of you right now those opportunities will become clearer and present themselves more and you'll be even more prepared for them," Protoje said.
"In regards to international marketability, I think it weighs first and foremost on the sound that artistes are pushing forward, as this will determine the platform on which it is placed," said Gavin 'Gavsborg' Blair, producer of the experimental dancehall group Equiknoxx. Equiknoxx is a locally-based electronic-dancehall group comprising Blair, Shanique Marie, Jordan 'Time Cow' Chung, Kemical Splash and Bobby Blackbird.
"However, I opine that while artistes are looking to the big stage, I encourage them to make an effort to identify and connect with their own unique audiences, and this could be anyone from your biggest fan in your own neighbourhood to the mysterious emailer in Sydney, Australia, who makes an effort to write every now and then to say they love the music. These are the people who are more likely to support your talent, regardless of current popularity," Blair said.
Last year, Equiknoxx Music was invited by Redbull to headline an event in Amsterdam, which the specific goal to 'curate' dancehall. Earlier this month, Equiknoxx also participated in the South by Southwest Interactive Festival (SXSW, Austin Texas) in an hour-long session, broadcast live on major online music media platform, Pitchfork Radio.
Since its establishment in 1987, the Texan festival has become an essential destination for global creative professionals, movie and television shows, premieres and screenings, new app demonstrations, video game competitions, and a variety of networking opportunities.
Soon after Ethiopia, Yaadcore will be heading to New Jersey and on to New York to perform along with Protoje on April 1. "The next will be in the UK where I have four dates in three different cities, which will also be special because of the UK's connection to reggae music," he said. All events bear the Dubwise brand.