Crafting a good, catchy melody comes naturally for 32-year-old Kasey Phillips as he has been in the music industry even before he was able to walk.
Now, he is the CEO and head producer of Precision Productions/Precision Global Music Ltd in San Fernando.
On November 15, Phillips won the EY Entrepreneur of the Year – Emerging award at the TT Chamber of Industry and Commerce's Champions of Business awards ceremony at the National Academy for the Performing Arts, Port of Spain.
Elated about his latest achievement, Phillips shared with Business Day, "Just being able to share a stage with the prominent businessmen for me as a musician, it has been a big deal."
He is the son of the CEO of We Are Culture Krazy (WACK) radio, Kenny Phillips, who is a respected producer and advocate for local music. His father is also a legendary guitarist who has toured with acts such as Rikki Jai, Carl and Carol Jacobs, Ras Shorty I, United Sisters and Arrow, to name a few. His mother, Dianne, is the managing director at WACK. His parents previously worked together at Republic Bank.
Reminiscing about his childhood days, Phillips said when he was still in diapers, he often crawled into his father's studio to watch him do what he loved – produce classic soca hits. In an interview at Precision's renovated studio, he said, "I would come in here to experiment and broke a lot of equipment. With destroying, I learnt to fix them back sometimes by guessing. My dad laid the foundation with the creative aspects of things.”
Whenever Kenny had difficulties in repairing broken equipment, he would call on his young inquisitive son who gladly helped. As a young boy, Phillips worked alongside his father and in doing so learnt the art of music production. By nine, he was already experimenting with his own music and by 11, he had produced his first song for a local artiste.
At first, producing was a hobby for Phillips who sometimes worked with an artiste alone if his father was engaged in another activity. He was self-taught and efficient, but he continued to learn music production locally and abroad.
Then his mother began guiding him on how to be financially responsible. She suggested he take a small loan from a bank to build his credit score. It was her way of preparing him for his own business. Phillips said he was shocked when the bank turned him down considering many of his songs were on the airwaves.
"I thought to myself that things must change. I had to make this a full-time business. I was existing as Kasey Phillips, not taking it seriously. It was a pastime, for fun and I did not have a good money sense."
In 2006, he registered the company, and in 2010 he got an opportunity to work as an intern for a year in Los Angeles with Andre Harris and Vidal Davis, a songwriting and production team popularly known as Dre and Vidal.
Phillips learnt what he called the international songwriter model which he has been using to propel his business to another level.
He was accustomed to a singer walking into the studio with a written song, for instance, then singing it for the producer to get matching music, but learned this was not how it was done in LA. He said sometimes the melodies are created before the songs.
"There was no blueprint as to how to turn music into a sustainable career. I had to figure it out along the way. Precision has multiple revenue streams, we receive royalties and distribute our music and rhythms through an international partner via digital retailers like iTunes, Spotify and Amazon."
Around 2012, the company became more active although he never stopped producing.
About five years ago, Phillips moved to the US from where he operates, even as he manages the company which he said remains focused and strong, with the staff working to produce and market the best music. He does not yet have a studio in LA, but he is preparing to open a branch, flying the TT flag from San Fernando to the US.
With over 20 years of experience under his belt, Phillips and his Precision team have worked in the US, London and many Caribbean islands among them Jamaica, St Lucia and St Kitts and Nevis.
Precision Productions has many hits in the local, regional, and international musical arenas, including Bacchanalist by Kerwin Du Bois, Precision Wine by Kes and Cheers to life by Aaron “Voice” St Louis. Phillips has personally produced a series of Machel Montano’s songs among them Mr Fete, Bottle of Rum, The Fog and Fast Wine. He has also worked with Grammy-award winner Chaka Khan, R&B superstars Carl Thomas and Toni Braxton and The Voice winner, Jamaican Tessanne Chin. The Precision team, he said, has also been working closely with US recording artist Theron Thomas from R City.
“The artistes from the US like Carl Thomas came out of the internship. Before them, I worked with Tessanne Chin and Kees Dieffenthaller and many others.”
Owing to the company’s "dynamic energy and relentless drive into multiple genres", it has won multiple international carnival awards.
In 2014, Montano's Ministry of Road, produced by Precision, won the International Power Soca Monarch and Road March titles. The song also won the Soul Train Award for Best International Performance.
In 2012, for St Lucia Groovy Soca Monarch competition, Teddyson John emerged victorious with the Precision-produced Land of Wine. Precision’s work continued the winning streak the same year in Antigua’s Jumpy Party Monarch with Tian Winter’s, Ravin. The Antilles Riddim of 2012, another production of the studio, was also the winner of the Best Soca Compilation at the annual International Soca Awards.
The company’s diverse portfolio includes hip hop, R&B, reggae, calypso, rap, gospel, pop, chutney-soca, and dance music. The staff includes general manager Mystie Thongs, a social media manager, songwriters, creative directors, graphic illustrators, videographers and photographers.
In addition to producing, the Precision Productions team has hosted five audio essentials workshops, two of which were held in Port of Spain.
"We offer full production workshops. People were very appreciative of that. We teach from the basics to production to mixing and business," said Phillips. "It is my way of giving back and spreading my knowledge. At every workshop, we have done a full song in front of the class, from start to finish."