Rudder brings Ceremony to J'Ouvert
When disc jockey Delesse Francis, aka DJ Del, decided to get into music production, she had no idea one of her first projects would be with veteran calypsonian David Michael Rudder.
Francis and fellow producer Vechenko "Chenko" Noel spoke with Newsday recently about their collaboration with Rudder on the J'Ouvert song Ceremony.
Francis recalled that she and Noel were working in the studio and came up with the rhythm. From this rhythm they had the idea of a J'Ouvert song, and Noel added the drums and other instruments.
They then collaborated with R&B and jazz singer John John Francis, better known as John John, to help with the mix, and they had MadMen Productions do the mastering.
The first song on the rhythm was Mama Warning, sung by Noel, and they named it the Warning Riddim.
Francis, Noel and John John began throwing out names that they would like to hear on the track, and John John said: "What about David Rudder?" Francis replied: "Well get a contact."
They sent the rhythm for Rudder to listen to, he responded that he liked it and the next day he went to their studio. Francis recalled she thought Rudder was coming just to meet with them, but he was ready to record. He wrote and recorded the song the very same night.
Noel said: "He just cut everything there in a one. He is very, very talented guy."
He explained the song was called Ceremony because it is talking about the culture.
Francis said J'Ouvert is her favourite time of the year and the words of the song talk about all the elements of J'Ouvert.
"Because when you on the road at four o'clock in the morning, it really does feel like some sort of tradition."
Noel said Rudder is promoting the song and the objective is for everyone to hear it J'Ouvert morning. A lyric video for the song was released and Francis said, so far there have not been any negative reviews. She recalled one person said they liked the "traditionalness (sic)" of Rudder but brought into 2020.
"We all know Rudder for the great hits, but to hear him in this modern J'Ouvert vibes it is like he is connecting to more the young and the old."
Francis said it was an honour to have him sing on their rhythm. She reported the plan was to continue after Carnival as they did not want their music to be seasonal. Noel said they plan to promote the song for regional carnivals and Miami carnival, and they also plan to have other artistes sing on the rhythm.
Rudder spoke with Newsday about Ceremony and what he thought when he first heard the music.
"I thought it was very infectious, that was why I decided to do it. It's electronic but it felt like J'Ouvert morning. It had that vibe. It reminded me as a child growing up and all the fear and the apprehension and the awe of seeing these men covered in oil and mud and coming up and terrorising you. So it kind of captured some of that. That was why I was attracted to it."
On writing the song, Rudder said it is never a problem for him as he would go into the studio and whatever comes into his spirit he would write down. He recalled, the recording process was very efficient and there was not a lot of time wasted.
"My brain works fast, and sometimes waiting on an engineer it is kind of frustrating. But it was really good."
Asked about the experience working with two young producers, Rudder said he always goes in with an open mind as he is interested in what the people think.
"I could pass some knowledge, but on the other side I could learn from them too. So it is their work and I kind of had to figure out where they coming from."
And what has been the feedback on the song?
"Everybody loves the song so far. Every single person."
Rudder explained he wants people who listen to the song to experience more than J'Ouvert and, though it does cater for a J'Ouvert vibe, it transcends the event itself.
"I think it's going to be one of those things that's going to be around for a long time."
Rudder has performed the song at Normandie Under the Trees and at Kaiso Blues.
"Rudder brings Ceremony to J’Ouvert"