After months of teasing, Kes the Band’s latest album, We Home, is finally here. The band, which consists of Kees, his brothers Hans and Jon, and bandmate Riad Boochoon, had not released an album in five years.
In a statement prior to the release, the band said, “We Home was created to fill a void for soca music, at a time when COVID-19 had put the communal Carnival celebrations and fetes that are the genre’s raison d’etre on pause for the foreseeable future.”
What is the inspiration behind the album?
The album came about because we wanted to do something live that we could broadcast – but we realised that we have never recorded the band live, with respect to capturing our live arrangements. We felt that it was a great time to explore that. We had the time, and we had the resource of people, to really bring forward something special. So we decided to go on that journey of recording a live collectors’ album for a snapshot of Kes The Band in 2020, and of soca and calypso in 2020.
Why did the band choose to release new material this year, when a lot of acts are holding back their music?
I think it’s just that everybody is on their own timing. It’s a big world issue, a big world event; the first event that all of us are experiencing together. We felt that it was time to release a body of work for music and for us; you know, music and art is a reflection of life, so to me that continues. I think which forms and what comes out will be different to what came before, but that’s the beauty of art. The fact is, it always find a way to come out. I think a lot of people want to be inspired truly and wholly, and they really want to bring out something that reflects not only what’s happening but themselves as well. So, some people decided to hold back stuff, some people decided to leave stuff; art is that way, it’s your choice.
What’s your favourite song on the album?
There is no particular favourite song. I think each song has a history and a story; like a child, each song is very particular. I really appreciate Beautiful Life, which is the only new track, simply because it’s a track I really wanted to have a home, and We Home was the album. It’s a song that really reflects a strong voice in my life, which tells everyone that things will work out in the end. So, I appreciate a Beautiful Life; I listen to it quite a lot.
What the meaning behind the name We Home?
Well, We Home really just reflects a time. The fact that we are all home, have been grounded for some time, and what happens when you’re home is something special. You have time at home, time for rest, time for relaxation, but also time for refocusing. We Home just really represents the entire project, and represents us at this time and what came out of that.
How did the collabs with Jimmy October and Etienne come about?
You know, it’s really and truly that I think all of us were on the same alignment, with respect to how we felt about calypso and our local vibes. Jimmy has always been on this new calypso tip, and he is a great and upcoming artist. We worked on Shenseea’s Close To Me – that’s how we really started to link, through Tano, the producer of that song – and we continued just being in touch. When this body of music came I felt a feature from Jimmy would be great, I thought it would suit his style and his vibe, and I presented it to him and it was a perfect fit. I think he totally understood and took it further. Etienne Charles was somebody that we grew up with together in music. Over the years we knew each other in school, and I have seen his progress, the way that he combines calypso and kaiso with jazz. I felt it was just great to include him in what we were doing, and he loved the vibes and gave us an amazing solo and vibe on the track, so it was just an honour to work with both Etienne and Jimmy in bringing this to life.
The band recently signed on with international management duo Damon DeGraff and Evan Vogel. What has it been like working with the team?
I think it has been amazing thus far. There’s nothing like bringing new, fresh energy into a project, into your life. And they have really been on top of their game, and on the ball, pushing us for greatness. It has been a journey, and I look forward to what’s to come with, you know, the pressures of the pandemic and everything being separate and stopped. Nothing stopped them from continuing to inspire us, and showing us new ways to really bring the music, and what we already have working for us but enhancing the way that we bring it forward. That has been an amazing learning process and an amazing experience. So I’m looking forward to what’s next with us, because we are working hard as a team and there is an appreciation of what was already there, but also excitement to really unfold all that we have in the future.
What’s next for the Kes the Band?
We’re actually working on a new album for 2020 into 2021, and we are going to continue to chip away at this new world and understand the best ways to put forward this expression. As soca and calypso, we really want to improve the pathways that people use to consume the music, for instance getting those categories onto the platforms and creating new spaces. We are working on a new platform as well, one that provides a market place for consumers of the artform for artists; for people who would want to sponsor experiences; all these things. We’re creating this space through an app called Tego, an environment for artists to have a home online, and for everyone to have a great meeting point.
And we’re going to continue to work towards making the world a smaller place, and making it easier for people across the world to receive soca and calypso music. Not just in these times but also for the future, because I think everything has changed permanently in a lot of ways. So it’s about adaptation at this point in time, and I think it’s about being observant and being aware of the new ways, and an opportunity to look for new fresh ways; to really look at the genre itself and see how we can improve our foundation, and thus give us a proper foundation to build on for the future.