AS TOLD TO BC PIRES
Because Trini to the Bone is an individual feature, all six members of Freetown Collective will appear one by one over six weeks starting on May 30 ending with the co-founder, Muhammad Muwakil, on July 4.
Their bass player and DJ is the only person ever to have appeared in Trini to the Bone twice, having first appeared in January this year.
My name is Jayron Remy, aka DJ Rawkus, and I am one-sixth, or at least one part of Freetown Collective.
I also produce our concerts and events.
And this is my second time around for Trini to the Bone.
I don’t have to give any information about where I’m from because BC Pires put all my business in the papers last January already!
But I went to Boston for school for two years and lived by my aunt in Cascade for a couple months and, other than that, it’s been Simeon Road, Petit Valley, my whole life.
My wife, Jadelle Holder-Remy, and I have a five-year-old daughter, Jaleia.
If more come, I will not be opposed. But I’m cool with one child.
I don’t believe in religion but I do believe in God.
Religion is a control mechanism for society. God is in everything and all of us.
People who say they have a deep personal relationship with God scare me a little bit. It’s difficult to believe there’s a man in the sky controlling everything.
I came to Freetown through a gig they had in the stadium. When they were doing their first album, Born in Darkness, they called me into the studio to give them a DJ’s honest feedback – which I think they took on board, when I heard the final version.
And then they called about a stadium gig. It was a big stage. Instead of just the acoustic guitar and the vocals, they wanted to add a DJ element, to keep the big sound of the album. We worked out a set and then the event was cancelled, so we never got to perform it.
I really liked the set we had worked out and I thought we should do a Freetown show.
So we did two nights at Black Box that sold out and the people really reacted.
And then they just kept calling me back for gigs until eventually they told me, “All right, you are part of the band.” I couldn’t name a start date.
Music is one way people find to relate to each other. Just talking s--t is another. And both are equally important in Freetown.
We think fairly similarly and it’s a good thing.
I am very aware of how difficult it is to keep six separate personalities together.
This is not my first band. I've been in bands where you work with musicians based on who is available at which time and that is just about work.
Being in Freetown is less about work and more of an experience.
Even if we disagree, we know everyone else's intentions comes from the same good place.
Freetown is very definitely a family. And family does quarrel. And then they get back together.
We work through it, then we get to move on to the next point together.
Lou is definitely the peacemaker in the band. Oftentimes he is the voice of reason for all of us.
The best part about being in Freetown is I learned to play bass.
Before Freetown, I played the bass guitar once, in music college, where someone needed someone to play four notes on a bass for a rock song. And they looked at me and said, “You’re black, you can play that!”
In Freetown, as a DJ, playing the stuff for the tracks, I always felt left out of the live acoustic song sets.
One day, Muhammad, Lou and I were rehearsing an acoustic set at Lou’s home. I was watching Lou play the acoustic guitar and I realised, “Hey! This song only has four notes! I could play that!” I picked up an acoustic bass guitar Lou had and watched his fingers and played the four notes he was playing.
And that's where it began. I borrowed Darrin Lala’s bass for playing that one song for quite a few shows.
The Island Waves stage of South by Southwest organised a bunch of artists to go and we happened to be one. Go there, perform, go back home.
We did an acoustic show in preparation for SXSW. It was our first performance in front of an actual live audience in two years. It was remarkable. The 13 people that were there completely enjoyed it.
But we enjoyed it even more. It was very ego-boosting to perform an intimate set like that, with people sitting so close to you and singing along with every word and you could hear them singing, giving you the vibes you need.
At another show, at Sound Forge, it was a proper production, integrated video, lights, sound, dancers on stage.
I learned from the School of 3canal.
There’s no bad part about being in Freetown. It's a journey and there are things we need to actively work on improving. And I think we are fairly honest with one another about that.
People see five or six people on stage and think that is Freetown Collective.
But that is not really Freetown Collective. Lou and Muhammad are the core and the directors of the company.
But Freetown has a strong and huge support system. Tonya Evans, the stage manager. Aryid Chandler, does lots more than just graphics, the whole Koru Green management team. Marcus Sammy, our sound engineer.
If I had to name all the names, I’d be here forever.
We’re adults now, right? I have a five-year-old daughter, so I realise the importance of legacy.
What happens after we’re done? We can’t just hope that somebody will be inspired by us and take it! We have to train them to do it properly, like Wendell (Manwarren, of 3canal) trained me to do a show well enough that he could come to my show and tell me he enjoyed it. Peter Minshall trained him! So that’s a
great lineage to be a part of.
Honestly, I feel honoured to be the only person who has been in Trini to the Bone twice. It makes me feel like I am true-true Trini.
A Trini is an oxymoron. Because a Trini is wanting the best of everything without giving the best of yourself.
Trinidad and Tobago to me means balance, a dread balance we have to find. Balancing good and evil, right and wrong, the culture and the people. We’ve been working at it throughout the years. Hemming-and-hawing and yinging-and-yanging and PNM-ing and UNC-ing. Everything has been a part of the search for balance.
Trinidad and Tobago. The good and the bad. The balance. Then we’re there.
Read the full version of this feature on Friday evening at www.BCPires.com