Music is a powerful language that should be used to improve society. Soca artiste and writer Orlando Octave thinks it is unfortunate that media managers, and directors, prefer to focus on making money rather than getting together to change the agenda and shaping the mentality of youths in a positive way.
Octave, 28, said music is influential because it enters and works on the subconscious mind. He is certain if radio stations play positive messages people’s behaviour will change.
“The platforms that highlight music, or that has the power to push the positive music, they don’t do it. They control what we hear. There are plenty youths out there with conscious music but they have a family to feed, so they making the music those platforms would play.”
For example, he said, one of his three Carnival releases, Beauty, is barely being played on the radio. He said the song stresses that beauty is internal and let women know they are the “most powerful creature on the planet,” and if women understand their power they can change the world.
He said the people who run the world and govern media platforms can give society what it needs, rather than what it wants, but they refuse to do so. “They talking about putting down the guns but in the same breath they playing a song about kill this one, and kill that one. The reason why they wouldn’t play that type of music is because society done set an agenda. That’s why they try to mute us and we can’t speak about things we believe in, and stand for. Nobody stands for nothing, but when you stand and try to talk the truth everybody against you and want to call you a terrorist.”
No wine and jam soca
But Octave said he refuses to conform. He describes himself as strong-minded and said he is not a follower, which is why he will not change his messages, or his style by singing ‘jam and wine’ soca.
He said he grew up listening to “real” music performed by artistes such as Betty Wright, Cyndi Lauper, The O’Jays, The Mighty Shadow, and Super Cat. He said they did not just make music but they told a story and made him feel as if he was in the situation.
“This is what music should be. Music is supposed to tell a story so it could help an individual in the situation, or educate. But now it’s just jam and wine. Everybody singing the same thing and people just accept it so they no longer feel the need to tell stories.
“Music would always be my first love and I did not want to cheat the people of my creativity. People tend to use one formula for years and years and I don’t believe in that. I believe, as a musician, just as people would pay to come and see you, you need to work to give them a good product.”
His product, however, is not just soca. Octave said since he had his breakthrough with the song, Single, two years ago, he does not limit himself to one genre. Instead, his music encompasses several genres including reggae, dance hall, soca, R&B and hip hop.
He added that the local music industry is a very difficult if one refused to “clique up” or “suck up.”
“That’s not me. That is why Orlando Octave, and a lot of artistes who have that same mentality, will face problems. What I would tell them is to not put all your eggs in one basket.”
He advises if there are blockages at every turn in a person’s journey to their dream, they should find another way to accomplish it, or postpone the dream. He said it is because of this he has opened several businesses over the years, including an original shoe store in Red Edge Mall in St James, and a grocery.
Music, determination and God
Octave started singing at the age of ten and entered his first junior soca monarch competition at age 11.
He recalled that he was disqualified, which left him and his parents upset. However, the late John Marcellin loved his song and took him to the US to perform on a tour.
He said the disqualification hurt him but made him stronger because it gave him a mindset of competitiveness, and he learned not to let people’s perception of him affect him.
“Don’t allow these competitions to dictate where you are going to end up. It’s a good platform but I think it does more damage than good. Sometimes people who don’t know anything about music are judging these things and they are just breaking spirits.”
He said music was something he always wanted to do but he wanted to do it for God. “I don’t know how I ended up on this side of the fence but I embraced it. In the future, that would be my direction. Maybe now, who knows?”
He said God has blessed him, allowing him to achieve all the goals he set and he is content in his life. As a result, at the moment he is focussing on “making his path right” with God, which includes using soca to send spiritual messages.
He stressed that his messages are spiritual rather than religious, as he had no intention of singing gospel. He said his music is not vulgar and it tends to educate. Unfortunately, people often misunderstand what he is trying to say.
“For example Single, that wasn’t an anthem for females. That was to tell them to check themselves, that they can’t be doing that. Berlin was to let the youths know to work for their things, not go... Berlin.”