It's been almost two years since the last time Nickolai Salcedo remembers playing live music with his band Gyazette for an audience of fans and supporters. The gig was a special "command performance" during the 2019 edition of Carifesta, at the Big Black Box on Murray Street, Port of Spain.
Before that, Gyazette enjoyed an intense seven years performing in and out of TT from 2007-2014. A typical performance for the band would take place in the humid, crowded close quarters of bars or lounges, or on open stages in front of local-music diehards at festivals and multi-group events, a media release said.
Coupled with Salcedo’s brooding, angst-filled lyrics, Gyazette’s wild and infectious sound took them from the underground open-mic scene, and up through the ranks, to playing the same stages as more established acts like 3canal, Freetown Collective, Machel Montano and other international artistes.
Gyazette’s music has been featured on Colourful Radio, London, BBC Radio, Sheffield and has taken Salcedo to studio collaborations, stages and media houses around the world including Canada, the UK, South Africa, Germany, Suriname and more, the release said.
While Salcedo reminisces about those days, he knows that because of the impact of the covid19 pandemic on the music industry, it will be a long time before those days will return. In the meantime, his drive to create new music persists and he intends to release, Evolution – an upcoming EP music project, of which the first released song, Abina, will be the lead single.
"The name Evolution is also a nod to the new approach to Gyazette’s sound," Salcedo said in an interview with arts marketing agency Black Collar Creative.
"Evolution will be a collection of songs exploring evolving social paradigms around the world as well as reflections on my own understandings of what love is. We’re going to be releasing more music as the year goes on."
The word Gyazette will now become the musical alias of Salcedo, who is already known in his own right as an interdisciplinary artist, which includes his work in visual art and as an actor.
This change brings with it an evolution of sound and a shift in musical direction from a performance-based, free-playing band sound to a studio-produced solo endeavour, fully focused on the mainstream, the release said.
Salcedo collaborated with his brother and fellow musician Joshua "Supayouth" Salcedo. The duo has defined the new sound as indie pop and island pop.
"My brother Joshua stepped in to produce the new Gyazette, and we have been on the craziest adventure crafting the sound. Supa was the one driving the musical decisions," Salcedo said.
"My job was to vibes with everything he did; so, I felt, wrote and sang. Occasionally I made suggestions to help bridge the space between where he was going and what I needed to hear in the music, to get my vibe right.
"Other than that, I just had fun experimenting with songwriting without having to centre my singing around my guitar-playing. It’s amazing how liberating that has been. I never realised just how much of a crutch the guitar had become."
On Abina, Gyazette revisits his old stomping grounds, setting the scene for listeners back to the crowded bars where he used to perform. Through familiar raspy vocals and danceable, up-tempo beats, the story of Abina is told as a woman channels the warriors and jammette spirits – running out of patience and energy to deal with the unwanted advances of a man she does not know. “No” is not enough for the man in this story, and when Abina tries to leave the situation, he grabs her by the arm, getting even more inappropriate.
"Abina represents the spirit of defiance that our society seems to be evoking in our women. We have to protect women," Salcedo said. "I was inspired to write her retaliation into the song as I felt that it was a reaction to her antagonist’s violation. For me, she represents the spirit of the age. She represents every global underdog rising up at this general moment in time to push back against oppressive social conditioning.
"As an artist I want to spark conversations in my society because I believe that those conversations are what help us to push our societies to be better. As a man, it is my duty to address and shed light on the harmful behaviours of men. The conversation should be one that includes all members of society, so perhaps we need to examine just how deep the toxicity goes."
Abina will be released on June 11 on all platforms. This will also initiate a month of promotion, including a panel discussion surrounding the issue of violence towards women and the ways in which societal change can occur.
A merchandise launch will also happen later in the year, which will be announced at @gyazetteofficial on Instagram.