I have no idea why I took so long to talk about this, but about a month ago, I was invited to hang out with a popular local band – BREVE of whom I am a HUGE fan! Hanging out with them was fun and they were very open and easy to talk to. Needless to say, I got the inside scope on what makes the band so special and I’m ready to share.
Contrary to popular belief, BREVE is not just a jazz band. In fact, they all agreed that they are “a vocal band that plays instruments and an instrumental band that does vocals.” Surprisingly, the band has only been together for a year. The members: Gomez Drigo (band leader), Marxian Smith and Jade Leatham play guitar while Gomez specializes in bass guitar playing. Kenrick Lawrence is on the drums, Jussi Paavola is officially a saxophonist and flutist and Leon St. Jean plays the keyboard. The first five are also vocalists and they all come together to conceptualize and produce their music.
So far, they have created perfect blends of contemporary jazz, smooth R&B and a soulful mix of pure Caribbean vibes; how do these genres mix to produce these amazing songs? I have no idea. However, these blends of rich instrumentation can only be described as Caribbean Fun – a genre in the making. Henceforth, let it be known across the lands that this unique blend originated from the Nature Isle – Dominica; that is all.
With their latest single ‘ Runaway’ hitting the airwaves, and with the buzz surrounding them because of their numerous appearances this Jazz and Creole Season it was only fitting that I met them during a practice session – and that I did. While I was there we chatted about their latest single, upcoming releases, and how they overcome the obstacles of a struggling music industry.
The band describes Runaway as Caribbean Indie Pop (yet another first!). The song itself was written shortly after Tropical Strom Erika, after one of the band members attended a memorial for some of the victims from Petite Savanne who had passed away. Having that been such an emotional time, the most satisfying thing at the time seemed to be to runaway to the forests and just scream; from there Runaway was birthed. But, the band leaves room open for fans to interpret the song however they would like. There only wish is that they would feel something.
Certainly, Caribbean Indie Pop and the like, isn’t at all what Dominicans are used to. When asked about how they intend to cater to the public, they all agreed that they put out music that they are comfortable with, not necessarily to give the public what they are used to but to introduce them to something that’s unique with only a hope that it would be accepted.
On another note, there is a common misconception that being a musician alone cannot pay the bills, and that it is not wise to aspire to be a full time musician. BREVE dropped a bomb when they revealed that four out of their six band members were full time musicians; two of whom had recently quit their day jobs…talk about brave. Jade teaches high school, Gomez is an engineer and Jussi is a part time farmer but full time musician.
With regards to music making a decent salary, the band members can attest that this is possible. Kenrick for instance revealed that before Tropical Storm Erika, music paid all his bills and he lived quite comfortable. Though things have slowed down a bit since then, strides are being made for a stronger comeback.
The band expressed that the biggest issue with the perception that being a musician cannot be a full time job, is that the people view local artists as being geographically confined to Dominica and its market.
Kenrick explained that “the music industry in Dominica is not just Dominica. Because you can be a musician in Dominica, like Jussi just came from Finland, and Max right now is in Guadeloupe playing. So, you can be a musician in the music industry in Dominica but you’re not restricted to Dominica.”
Jade said that in Dominica, “I don’t think that we are given the opportunity to show that we are world class. […] world class product can come from Dominica and that is our aim to show what can come from here.”
Their advice is to work on your craft constantly and put yourself out there so that more people will become familiar with you and your music.
Rest assured that BREVE is always working and this year there are new, unique and exciting melodies in store for fans to look forward to.
Check out their Facebook page for more updates!