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Machel Montano focused on making soca crossover ... Looking forward to Pandemonium

Published:Friday | March 27, 2015 | 12:00 AMSadeke Brooks

As one of the top soca acts for decades, Machel Montano says he is now trying to focus on conquering the international market.

Montano has been one of the big names for some time and has won Trinidad's International Soca Monarch competition numerous times. This year, he won the 'Power' category with the song Like A Boss.

That competition, however, was his last, as Montano believes he should focus his attention elsewhere.

"I took that chance and I decided that this is my last Soca Monarch and I wanted to go out with a bang," he told The Sunday Gleaner.

"I have many times considered moving on. It has become somewhat easy for me because I have the experience. For me, it is more important to pass on that knowledge. It would be more beneficial to lend my skills to them (younger acts) than compete against them. I want to focus on making soca crossover more on the international market."

This crossing over, he says, has already begun as he believes different genres are now merging.

"More and more, this music is being accepted pre-carnival season. I think our music is becoming more and more unified ... the similarity in the beat and the coming together of the tempo of the music," Montano said.

And this unity between Jamaica and Trinidad can be seen in his music with Remedy, a collaboration with Shaggy; Soak, featuring Christopher Martin; and One Wine with Sean Paul and Major Lazer.

He added that there is even further unity through Pandemonium, at which he will be performing on April 9 at Hope Gardens in St Andrew.

"This is a brand that we have been trying to establish for the past two years to highlight the unity between soca culture and dancehall. The main highlight is to put on one of the greatest soca parties during Jamaica carnival," he said.

Although the show has been headlined by Montano and Shaggy for the previous two stagings, the soca artiste insists that this one will be different.

"Every year, I make a great effort to have a lot of hit songs during carnival. My whole catalogue is one of the most successful for 2015. I am also bringing my female and male dancers and making my visuals brand new," he said.

However, Montano and Shaggy are not the only ones on the show. There will also be performances by Angela Hunte, Ding Dong, Chi Ching Ching, and others.


Learn from Trinidad


As Jamaica Carnival continues to grow, he also acknowledged that there are a few things that Jamaica can take from Trinidad as it relates to improving carnival and getting more persons involved.

"It is not just a jump up and wine thing. If we could integrate and educate people about what it is about, more people would get involved and understand the true meaning of what it is," he said.

In the meantime, Montano intends to maintain his relevance via a new album, Monk Monte, which he says is a reinvention of himself and signifies his intention to remember his past while integrating the present.

He added that Monk Monte 2 will be released in September, and he will also be working on an international album this year.

According to Montano, one sure way for him to stay on top of the game and maintain his relevance in Trinidad and the rest of the world is to compete with himself.

"I think the biggest secret is competing with myself. I hardly ever worry about who is my competition. If you do your best you will end up as close as possible to the top," he said.

Montano admits that, his other secret is keeping up with trends and staying connected with his younger audience.