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Five Questions with Shawn Antoine - Singer discovers what is ‘up for grabs’

Published:Friday | August 24, 2018 | 12:00 AMStephanie Lyew/Gleaner Writer
Shawn Antoine
Shawn Antoine
Shawn Antoine

Shawn Antoine is pure talent - and definitely one that has earned the respect of the music fraternity because of his willpower and support of the movement to make good music.

In fact, Antoine's career did not start as a singer/songwriter, but as an a keyboardist which had him touring at the mere age of 13 years old accompanying gospel and secular artistes. "In the midst of doing production for recording artistes, I would work on the harmonies and write music, and soon persons recognised that I could sing," Antoine told The Gleaner.

And man can he sing! His vocal range magically surrounds you - smooth as it moving easily from rebel rootsy reggae as in his debut single Fight, to the melodic whispers of neo-soul or R & B as in his 2017 release Missing You to the witty lyrical play on his Up For Grabs collaboration with Chris Martin.

1. The music industry is such an interesting place right now where entertainers do feel pressure to continuously put out music. How do you deal with that pressure?

We do feel pressured as an artiste in terms of releasing a single every week. But as a singer, your goal is to create a catalogue of songs so if the plan is to release one or five songs, the first thing is to make sure that all are quality - songs of substance.

For example, with a veteran artiste like Beres Hammond, his songs may not be relevant at the specific time of release, but by the following year it resurfaces because of the sound. On the other hand, in dancehall, it becomes saturated because artistes and their producers release one after the other not thinking of a plan to promote and allow for one song to get its due.

I feel that pressure, but have developed a strategy to voice for various producers in different regions so that my music is not just saturated in one location, and I have discovered these producers also have a method of releasing the tracks so they do not get lost in the airwaves.

2. How do you feel about the engagement of the corporate world with recording artistes?

It benefits both corporate and the overall advancement of local music, and it is a necessary step for every artiste as it confirms that they are doing something right. Take for example, being in a commercial confirms that your image is attractive. In my book, if corporate does not look at you, then you are probably still in the phase of rising from underground. One of our Caribbean neighbours has approached me, which for me, confirms that my music is progressing. That sort of achievement does not restrict an artiste, but keeps you grounded.

3. What's your favourite piece of music and why?

It would have to be Misty - a jazz composition by pianist, Erroll Garner. I love jazz, the feel of Misty is reminiscent that is, it is almost happy and sad at the same time. It evokes so many emotions all at the same time.

4. What's the weirdest experience you've ever had while performing?

It was about two years ago in Germany. While on stage performing a set, a girl came from behind the stage area and jumped on my back. Her next move was to grip certain places, and though I was shocked I couldn't do anything else but continue to sing.

5. What do you want people to take from your music?

Each song has a different message, so if it's one that speaks of falling in love, then share the love. If it's what I like to call 'sex songs', feel free to use it in your moment because it can only make it better. I just want my music to be able to touch each and everyone who listens to it.