INSIDE SAINT LUCIA’S MUSIC INDUSTRY: AN INTERVIEW WITH BIGSEA
After his 2017 hit, Any size, Casim James, overseer of the ‘Twaka Family’, or as most would call him, ‘Big Sea’, now proudly wears his mantle as a Dennery Segment soca artist. With an interest in music dating as far back as his days as a boy at the Castries Comprehensive Secondary School, the now 32-year-old musician and entrepreneur has achieved major success largely due to his marketing-savvy approach to his craft. In the midst of his hectic schedule, preparing for a governmentorganised six-week tour in the United States, Big Sea accepted The STAR Businessweek’s request for an hour of his time to discuss his involvement in Saint Lucia’s music industry. SBW: WHEN DID YOU JOIN THE DENNERY SEGMENT MOVEMENT? BIG SEA: I would say it happened in late 2016, early 2017. Before that I focused more on hip hop and rap but one of my friends suggested I go into soca. People who know me knew I was someone who would always incorporate very local language and culture in my art so, when I decided to go into soca, I wanted to go into the most cultured part of it. Plus I already knew a lot of the Dennery Segment artists before they had their hits so they were more than happy to have me.
SBW: WAS THIS WHEN YOUR BRAND, THE TWAKA FAMILY, CAME TO FRUITION?
BIG SEA: Well, yes. Twaka Family is a new brand but before that there was SAM. Although it is not an official label, SAM operates like a brotherhood. It is named after one of my childhood friends who passed away. What we do is we prep artists and get them ready to maximize success in the industry. I show them what I know about social media marketing and branding. Since I moved into soca, I wanted to brand it separately. I treat Twaka Family more like a business and incorporate more brand awareness. We have a clothing line and I try to push that, especially since the word ‘twaka’ is very fitting for soca. In the future I want to go into multimedia management and to help artists get their music published.
SBW: DO THE DENNERY SEGMENT ARTISTS IN YOUR CIRCLE MAKE GOOD USE OF ONLINE MUSIC STREAMING PLATFORMS?
BIG SEA: In terms of having music online, that’s [something] the artists themselves would have to follow through with. Most artists in Saint Lucia just put their music directly onto Youtube. When you post it directly onto Youtube, like that, there is really no way to generate any revenue unless you monetize the Youtube account. The other way artists can make money by putting music online is through Tunecore, and things like that, where they would tag the song, and when you put it on Youtube you’d start generating cents every time somebody views or clicks on it. Some sites would also allow you to put it on iTunes, Spotify, etc, where people can buy it.
SBW: WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE TO CLAIMS THAT THE LYRICS OF SOME DENNERY SEGMENT SONGS ARE TOO DIRTY?
BIG SEA: Well, if you ask me, I think we are artists. You’re creating art and art is subjective.The Dennery Segment music definitely streamed from solo and folk music that we inherited from our forefathers who use to do djouk fouyé and all these type of dances that were very provocative. It just promotes having fun; it’s all about dancing, moving your waist and feeling the vibe. We’re not promoting violence, we’re not promoting rape or stealing; we’re promoting men and women having fun.
SBW: SO WITH THE UPCOMING TOUR ORGANISED BY THE GOVERNMENT, NO-ONE WAS MADE TO CENSOR THEIR LYRICS?
BIG SEA: I won’t say they can get us to change our lyrics. Like I said, it’s art and as artists we’re entitled to express ourselves. However, if we want to be on an international platform we will definitely have to submit radio-friendly or censored music.
SBW: HOW DOES IT FEEL TO GET SUPPORT FROM THE GOVERNMENT?
BIG SEA: It feels very good. It reminds me of when I would play basketball for Saint Lucia. You feel like you’re on team Saint Lucia going out there. Everyone knows because it’s on the news. You feel like a pioneer, like an ambassador. It feels good to get the opportunity. I always like to say, ‘People don’t owe us anyting,’ so when someone decides to put something on the table for you, then you have to be appreciative.
Big Sea, along with ten other local Dennery Segment artists, left Saint Lucia on August 30 to tour in cities across the United States. Performances have been scheduled in: New York, Texas, Conneticut, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Boston and Miami.
People who know me knew I was someone who would always incorporate very local language and culture in my art so, when I decided to go into soca, I wanted to go into the most cultured part of it
When he is not busy being ‘big bro’ to younger Saint Lucian talent, Bigsea can be found paving his way to international acclaim.