Riddim Saturdays Moving To A Different Beat!!
In an increasingly disconnected world, a community has been created through Riddim Saturdays – a participatory music-and-songwriting event led by producer Dale Virgo and recording artistes of varying cultures, backgrounds, ages and musical abilities. Prior to the COVID-19-induced restrictions of having gatherings of no more than 10 persons, the sessions used to involve up to 10 participants crammed into a room that allowed for a group of five, said Virgo. “I have been playing around with Riddim Saturdays since last summer; experimenting to find ways of making it work. While doing in the studio, in person, is much better to vibe and create, only a few persons could take part at any one time,” he told The Gleaner. With the possibilities of having large sessions in studio erased, Riddim Saturdays has shifted to the digital space and is moving to a different beat, Virgo said. “The energy is still very euphoric and it is good to keep the creative energy flowing, but it also helps those experiencing downheartedness being in lockdown.” Being part of the session motivates even the ‘bathroom singers’ to forget where they are and sing out loud, much to their embarrassment. But it is good, in the sense that it provides some emotional emancipation. Last Saturday, several persons joined in, including Martin ‘Tin I Cool’ Isaacs, Neil Chambers, Starr Dane, Lex Legacy, Marlon ‘SirPlus’ Henry, and CH4SE, among other burgeoning young talents. The event has been conducted on several platforms – from Google Hangouts to Instagram Live, but this one was done utilising the resources provided by Zoom. Virgo was able to share his screen to show the process of assembling the sounds to make a rhythm, and have the artistes listen and act as critics.
The artistes may not be able to record their masterpieces immediately, Virgo explained. “Those who have at-home studio setups, I schedule virtual sessions with them and do remote recording sessions where I can hear everything clear in my studio and produce the tracks.” He added: “Many of the artistes will connect with me following the online link-up or even send voice notes of ideas for songs they wrote during the session.” At least five rhythms were created and the artistes were armed with their own lyrical interpretations, some like Canada-based singer Jermaine Cowan, who could not stop singing throughout the duration. A few songs birthed from the rhythm-and-songwriting event have been released, with one titled Free, featuring Delando Colley and Mark Lyttle, which hit digital platforms yesterday. Female dancehall entertainer Ce’Cile has recorded on a beat that originated in Riddim Saturdays, and the song titled Occupied was recorded remotely and released in the same week. Virgo’s rhythm-making process varies, he explained. “Aside from collaborating with a singer, sometimes I start with an idea and feed off the energy of the singer or songwriter to complete the idea. Other times, I set a goal for a concept and do sessions where I create multiple instrumentals.” The artistes all had different reactions. Tin I Cool said, most times, he takes in the melody of the rhythm and then the words come after. “I try to be part of every Riddim Saturdays, and this is an extremely rare opportunity for a virtual no-name like me to pursue my second passion, as well as share with seasoned artisans or other newcomers. You know the saying ‘iron sharpens iron’. I am praying this bears fruit for me and I will be able to let the world hear yet another side of me,” said SirPlus of what the session means to him.
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