by Workaholix Media
Before the live show started, I was able to sit down with the Anguilla-based trio,British Dependency, backstage for an interview. An artist interview can be tricky, you never know what mood the artist/band might be in before or after a show. I met British Dependency as they started their pre-show routine; I walked in on the eating phase as if right on cue. So we met briefly and I let them finish in peace until they were ready for me. My first impression of Ruel, Joyah, and Jaiden: very positive and humble young people. They were very welcoming and excited to be performing in New York, despite the cold weather they are not accustomed to. They already have been on quite an adventure on tour promoting their debut album, “Finding Wisdom,” and they could not seem more grateful to be living what once seemed to be a dream.
I was first curious to ask about their name “British Dependency,” which I found out later is a sort of challenge to the status quo in their music, given that they’re from the British territory of Anguilla. Jaiden responds, “It’s a name that incites your curiosity.” Joyah adds, “We are an island that depends on Britain. That’s mainly where it comes from. But we as a being and as a band moving forward, we’re are totally opposite to what it says. We have some other things around us that hinder us as an obstacle, but we as a unit can move forward and show that even though we have these things against as we still have our strength and our wisdom..” Well, curiosity it doth incite indeed. Hopefully this sheds some light on the band’s background.
So I’m getting myself ready to take pictures and watch the live show as the band gets set up onstage. I’m used to most live shows beginning with the backing band playing and bringing the main members of the band out onstage with an introduction. So I was confused at first when I saw Joyah, Ruel, and Jaiden walk out; and then awesomely surprised when I realized there is no backing band! They just went right into an instrumental interlude, a seriously funky one at that. I was already diggin’ it. As usual, small bands with a lot of sound are highly favored in my book. When I saw them strumming and banging out Caribbean rhythms with the ease of seasoned vets, I had an immediate appreciation for their musicianship.
They then started to play songs from the album, which if you try to categorize, you really can’t. Their style goes beyond reggae; they blend in rock, R&B, and jazz as well to deliver a contemporary, eclectic sound. Their passion for their music is evident in the energy and vigor with which they perform. Ruel and Joyah are great front-people and they keep the audience engaged with their playful styles. These were definitely much different than the people I spent time with backstage. At some point Ruel took out a drumstick and slid it across his guitar strings, making a DJ scratching sound that I found to be pretty cool and fills in the sounds that are on the recorded version. And Miss Joyah, gotta love her. She definitely brings the feminine energy to the stage as she takes pleasure in enchanting the crowd. I must make mention also of the young, drummer-extraordinaire Jaiden who keeps the heartbeat of the show. His energy is also tremendous and he brings a lot of sound to the small trio. Combined with Ruel’s vocal tone and Joyah’s vocals/raps they explore and create a modern dynamic to the concept of roots reggae for a new generation.
The album itself has some potential hits in my opinion. The band explained to me that the album name, Finding Wisdom” is really a result of the journey they’ve experienced in launching a band and working on this project. The album’s first single “Do You This” is an upbeat love song, or moreso a trying-to-repair-love-song, that is made for radio play. It has a light reggae swing, catchy melody, and pop appeal. Another favorite of mine is “Small-Minded People,” in which Joyah takes the lead on vocals. I love the bluesy undertones of the beat, and based on the title, you know a real message is coming. There are always people along your path who may not wish you well, or who may not understand you but they will undo themselves. “Small-minded people, selfish and cold. Weak-hearted and evil, you’re digging a hole..” is an impactful hook for sure. These songs are examples of the range of sounds and lyrical content of the album. There are songs with spiritual messages like “Selah” and others with social messages like “Caskets Closed.” It’s clear that British Dependency has a lot to say on various topics, and they can back it up with some excellent instrumentation. I wish them much success on their journey and look forward to hearing and seeing more of them.
Many thanks to VICRAE Inc. and VP Records for having me. Peace and blessings to all!