Cocoyea at 35

Dexter Kahn

Cocoyea at 35

By Soca News

United Kingdom | Monday 21 March 2016: 8:08 GMT

We’re now in 2016, and that fresh faced juvenile, who’s been part of the soca scene for over three generations, reaches its 35th year. Please join us in wishing Cocoyea a very ‘Happy Anniversary’.

Now seems an appropriate time to talk about the beginnings, and the story along the way. Cocoyea was born of Metronomes Steel Orchestra back in the late ‘70s, conceived and nurtured by Dexter Kahn, with the help of others. In those days, Peter Minshall designed for Metronomes.

Cocoyea has been at the forefront of presenting soca music to the masses, over the years bringing many household names live and direct to London audiences: David Rudder, Machel Montano, Colin Lucas, Iwer George, Anslem Douglas, Baron, Skunky, 3canal, Ronnie McIntosh, United Sisters, Tallpree, SW Storm, Nigel and Marvin Lewis, plus so many others. Now deceased and much-missed calypsonian Skunky (Odian Cyrus) composed and sang the band’s theme song, Cocoyea All the Way.

From the first mas band back in the 80's, Cocoyea have worked with some of the most prolific mas designers, including Nikki Lyons and Wayne Berkeley. Wayne designed for them for over 15 years, giving them a record-breaking win of King, Queen, and Male and Female Individuals for two years running. Cocoyea were the first band from London to be invited to present their costumes in the Big Yard T&T, when they took their winning King and Queen (Ian Kahn and Evelyn Noriega) with theme ‘Plantation’, designed by Nikki Lyons.

The very first Cocoyea fete was at Swiss Cottage Community Centre, where doors were closed by 6pm because they’d reached capacity, and individuals stormed the place by jumping the wall to gain access – you know who you are! And then on to Camden Palace, then Forum - doors were also shut by 6pm while a ‘one in, one out’ policy was put in place – and then Ocean and Scala. Cocoyea later introduced the first ‘Recession Fete’, as they grew and adapted over the generations to ensure that they were accessible to all.

The DJ line-up over the years has been extensive, ensuring that the Cocoyea brand has remained on the lips of adults and youngsters alike. DJ’s have included: Lord Sam, Feminine Touch, BWIA Road Show’s Smokey Joe, Bambino, Martin Jay, Rude Boy Arron, ChéInTheMIXX, DJ Slic, Mike Forbes, DJ Fats and Zoomer D – and then Cocoyea’s Soca Army, who are Lyrical Louix, Soca Massive, DJ Markee, DJ Roughneck, Mr Mention and Vinny Ranks.

Many have moved on from Cocoyea to create their own bands, such as Clary Salandy with Mahogany, Nikki Lyons with Oval Lions and South Connection, and Pure Lime, Arawaks, Poison UK and Chocolate Nation.

We had a brief chat with band member Ian, whose father Dexter is Cocoyea’s bandleader. He said, “We have given mas and soca more of a foothold within the diverse mix of cultures that make up London. Like all organisations, we have to change and adapt to meet the ever-changing market, and draw on an ever-growing audience of revellers and masqueraders. Evolution has taught us that we either adapt or die.

“As this is part of our heritage it will never be time to stop… We now need to fuse soca with the changing music of garage, house, reggae, and in that make it more appealing to the diverse mix of cultures outside home in T&T.”

Who would have thought that, from those inspirational years back in the 70’s when Cocoyea went chipping down the road with Metronomes Steel Orchestra, they’d be here now, using 40ft trailers with digital multimedia screens, and a presentation celebrating 35 years of playing mas. Watch this space!

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