An unsuspecting, musically gifted trailblazer is slowly but surely taking her place. Much like Jamaica’s Koffee seemed to have emerged out of nowhere overnight, and quickly stamped her name into history, so too will Trinidad and Tobago born rising star, Phia.
Sophia Smith is a 20-year-old diamond in the rough. According to engineering mastermind, PengCo Music, she’s the real deal. In fact, so confident is PengCo in Phia’s natural talent, her passion and drive, that he’s ready to risk it all, to take her to the heights of the music business.
Phia grew up in Gonzales, Belmont with her mother, grandmother and extended family members. She fondly recalls being called upon by her uncle to perform for friends who would come over to house parties held at the family home. They would encourage her talent, often gifting her with cash after her impromptu performances. An eventual relocation to Petite Bourg, in San Juan with her father brought with it an even greater appreciation for music and dance. Noting her father and uncles’ constant singing and dancing display at the house, Phia said it was not too long before she too became completely mesmerized by music.
“All I think about is music,” relays a most recent Instagram post by the young soulful singer. Unlike most in the Caribbean, who’re attuned to island beats and the Caribbean flavour, this young artist stays true to herself, maintaining her love for soulful genres of music. “I grew up with my grandmother. Our neighbour would play music every morning,” she explains. “I grew up listening to Otis Redding, Sam Cooke and Johnny Cash, just to name a few.”
Untraditional for a youth of this era some may argue, but for PengCo, Phia’s vibe is refreshing, new, exciting. “She’s going to be big,” he says confidently, and with that assurance, Phia too, stands ready to push even harder. On April 1st, Phia released visuals for her single, ‘Red,’ which she penned. The track was recorded at Proden Studios and mixed and mastered by Pengco Music. Asserting herself as a GenZ neo-soul artist, Phia’s laid back delivery is reminiscent of that of RnB singer, the late, Aaliyah Haughton.
“I’d describe my music as soothing. I think my music’s relatable to events that unfold in most people’s everyday lives,” she explains, admitting that her major contemporary influences have come from international RnB superstars, Chris Brown and Kehlani. “Dancing was really my first love. I used to watch Chris Brown’s music videos and try to emulate every move and his voice. On the flip side, Kehlani has influenced my style a bit. They’re both major vocal influences but I like the way Kehlani dresses,” she said.
With her eye on the prize, her heart humble and her passion unwavering, Phia’s on a journey that’ll ultimately lead to the big leagues. Her only hope is that the support at home in the Caribbean is forthcoming, after all, the love and support of ‘home’ beats all else.
Zess Producer, DNyce Nation Unleashes the Unthinkable. Could Others Follow?
Known for his involvement in the Zess music fraternity in Trinidad and Tobago, producer DNyce of DNyce Nation has made us look, unleashing something far from the norm, and proving his ability to masterfully go beyond the typical. He sings on the single, collaborated on with none other than multiple title holder, Shurwayne Winchester- something he says, is a first for him. What’s funny is, his first vocal effort, is pretty extraordinary.
Speaking with Ebuzztt following the release of “Ring De Bell”, DNyce, who’s real name is Dike David Pererria, said the song came from a place of gratitude. He explained that his single with Shurwanyne sits on the Colours Riddim and features several other artistes, among them, Potential Kid, Ace Boss and Vice, Bass, Skem and Melick. “It’s an honour to be able to sing alongside such a great artist like Shurwayne himself and it’s an honour to be able to produce a song like this,” said the young producer. He noted that the track was meant for Shurwayne and he had no intention of singing on it however, upon realising a need for a second voice, he offered to give it a try. “The song really came about due to me being so grateful and so happy about life itself and knowing that I am blessed with the opportunity to still have something to do, knowing that there are other people who aren’t as fortunate,” he said. DNyce acknowledged the support given by Shurwayne over time, saying, “Shurwayne being a person who has taught me so many things in terms of the music industry and how to go forward with my business, I couldn’t think of anybody else to sing something like this.”
The single encapsulates the concepts of spirituality and life; “It connects both life and God in one song,” said the writer and producer. Speaking on the Zess movement, he made it clear that it is not a new genre but rather, something created by Trinidad and Tobago, that he believes, once packaged properly, could have global impact. “A lot of the new acts coming up, I’m behind,” he admitted, noting that Zess is a new style of Caribbean music, that has originated from T&T. “It’s a taste of Soca with a branch of dancehall,” he clarified, adding, “I know where I can see this style going- I know what I see and what my passion when it comes to the production of the sound is, the whole happy side of the Zess thing. I can see that reaching very far as a new style of our music; I believe it can reach global markets but yet, we still have the negative side so while I can see it going global, I can only hope that the other artistes that support the style, turn their direction into a more commercial side of things.”
DNyce told EBUZZTT that this single is one of the most positive singles delivered out of the Zess style. “For the 90% of the time that T&T’s dancehall has been getting a hearing, the radio stations and the people in charge have only been promoting the negative side of the movement,” he said, going on to say, “This is one of the most positive crossovers ever to be created within the whole Zess forum. I’m not saying that there haven’t been positive songs before that have gotten a hearing but this is something that a lot of people have been trying to do, which is to make the whole cross between the Soca and the Zess. I feel this is one of the real openings that could affect these young people’s lives not just by telling them what’s the right thing to do, but by giving it to them in a way that they can enjoy.”
“This is one of the most connecting songs of the last three years. It has connected life and God in one message.”DNyce
A part of the music and production business for over 15 years, the DNyce Nation boss told us that he had to move his business from his home in St. Barbs, Laventille, to Belmont, noting that many artistes refused to enter Laventille, to work at his studio. “I had to use Belmont as my address for artistes to be attracted to come to the studio. For years it was a fight. I was unable to reach where I wanted to reach because nobody wasn’t coming to me so I really can’t forget Belmont,” he said. Confronting his truth, the young producer lamented that Laventille- his home, remains a crime hot spot, something that saddens him. “Being born and raised in a high risk, crime riddled community, I had to move my business to attract my clientele. I hope and pray for change one day.”
DNyce Nation is now located at SW Limited, Darceuil Lane, Arima.
‘Ring De Bell’ has been unleashed, complete with a video. Be sure to check it out below.
Bunji Garlin’s Got Talent We Didn’t Even See.
Spittin’ lyrical fire is all he’d touted for years but as Covid-19 offered the chance to lay back and watch the world from the confines of his home in Trinidad, entertainer, Bunji Garlin has shown a different side of himself that could very well bring in some extra cheddar.
In a time of economic uncertainty, we’re seeing some of our Caribbean entertainers showing their diversity. Yankey Boy’s been selling pepper sauce in the United States and Jadel’s been modelling for endorsed local retailer, Cache. Patrice Roberts and Nailah Blackman have been marketing their branded merchandise, Patrice for her Coco Body line of soaps and Blackman for her line of acrylic nails. It’s all truly commendable!
A couple days ago, Garlin, who’s been relatively quiet over the past few months, expressed his feelings artistically, showing a level of accuracy in imagery that’s stunning to say the least. Bunji and his wife, Fay Ann have been actively assisting with efforts to aid the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines as they continue to deal with the challenges of the volcanic eruption. Together with ITNAC (Is There Not A Cause), Garlin and Fay have been on the ground packing supplies to send over to the islands.
Bunji’s artwork, posted to his social media platforms, showed his interpretation of photos he saw coming out of that said volcanic eruption in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Take a look below.
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