Trinidad Express – by Michael Mondezie

Xopher return to US with a taste of Carnival

   That lyric from Pittsburgh-based crossover soca act Xopher’s 2022 single, “Cahneeval Done”, perfectly sums up his Taste of Carnival experience.
Xopher, real name Christopher James, says returning to Trinidad and Tobago for the first time since the pandemic-forced closing of borders in 2020 was an inspiration. He promises his followers and fans back in Pennsylvania, USA, will hear more of “Trinidad roots” in his upcoming releases.
   “I have always been fascinated by the way we personify Camival and I wanted my own expression of it, but exaggerated. My recent trip to Trinidad was an inspiration. I am writing as a solo artiste and as part of my group, Supa NxC. I think you will hear my Trinidadian roots in my new releases coming up in the next year,” inspired singer/music producer told the Express yesterday.
   Born in Arima, Xopher, 27, emigrated to the USA just over five years ago. It was there that he adopted the “X” in his name, which he says stands for the mathematical unknown that is music emerging from the streets of T&T.
   He has released a four-track, self-produced EP, The Island Project (TTP), which includes the singles “Lingo”, “High Grade”, “Camevaal Done” and the title track, “TIP (Love in Ah Yuh). Xopher describes his music as a hybrid fusion of dancehall, soca, Afrobeats and R&B.

Staying true to your musical identity.

   Away from the large Caribbean populations of New York and Miami, Xopher as often found himself stick ing out like a sore musical thumb. But standing out in a foreign entertain ment landscape is less about fitting in and more about staying true to your musical identity, he reasoned.
   “At first, I felt isolated by my Trinidadian roots. What I’ve realis realised is that my roots to Trinidad ooze out of me creatively, especially when I am rapping about my life, like in “Lingo. Pinsburgh has responded really well to my EP, The Island Preject, although it is completely Trinibagonian/Caribbean inspired,” he beamed.
   The thriving Pittsburgh art scene lends to easy collaboration between musicians and other creatives from different cultural background, he said.
   “The sound merges and synergises when you are collaborating. My next challenge is to create a publicity pathway due to the restrictions on radio. It’s a lot of effort, but I am finding my way in the dark through social media and the Internet. Still, lots to learn,” he winked.
   With more and more music fans in the American Northeast opening up an ear for soca music, Xopher says the onus is on him to create and package the music in the right ways.
   “Soca music is wonderful music that I carry in my soul; I find that people are very open to the sound. The challenge for me is looking for creative ways to promote the music. What I am learning, through my own personal development and collaboration with others, is that I pull from y part of myself when I am writing music. When you are creating, you pull from those experiences of translating feelings into lyrics and music,” he concluded.

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