Sunday, 14 October 2012 02:30
By D Francis
Antigua St. John's - An Antiguan who has been living in Basel Switzerland for two decades has been doing wonders in the music industry, and every chance he gets he is determined to let the world know about his homeland Antigua & Barbuda.
William Martin AKA “Sugardaddy” seizes his opportunity to refresh the minds of those who may have forgotten of his background, who he is, and the life he lived in Antigua before he migrated to Switzerland so very long ago.
“My Father, the late William B. Martin, was one of the first Radio and TV Electricians on the island of Antigua. My Father was born in Montserrat and migrated to Antigua at an early age and my Mother Catherinette Agatha Martin who was born in St. Lucia also migrated to Antigua at an early age and at some moment of time that's where it all began. I was born on Armstrong Road and was living some time up in Ovals. Later I spent some of my time growing up at Tindale Road and I was last living in Nut Grove Village before I migrated to Switzerland in September 1992.”
William Martin attended the Holy Family Primary school and the St. Joseph’s Academy. He and his brother Jerome also spent one year in school in St Lucia (Dennery Secondary School), and he finished school at an early age.
William worked at the Halcyon Cove Hotel in watersports, and also at the Jolly Beach Resort as a windsurfing instructor. He later became a member of the watersports staff.
This brief recollection should stir the memory of those who may not remember him. Today the ‘big time’ achievements of this man, who has been playing multiple roles in the music industry for nearly two decades, have been well publicized and documented abroad.
One might expect, viewing William Martin’s achievements in the music world, that music would have been a hobby of his from way back when he was a child. Actually, he says, he was led into the field of music merely out of a need he saw for what he called ‘Caribbean Nights’.
“I was never into music when I was living in Antigua. As I said, I spent most of my youth life on the beach as a watersports attendant, and after migrating to Switzerland I was working at a cleaning company for about a year. The night life here was more discos and tropical African nights. Then I said to myself, where’s the Caribbean nights? so I got myself two CD players and a mixer and start to train myself playing reggae, calypso, soca and dancehall and then one day a vision came to me to start a sound system ‘Uprising Sounds’ at the Summer Casino in Basel and with the full support of my wife and Eddy and Emanuelle Eiger as management, I started to be known in Europe and elsewhere in the world.”
Martin carries the title 'Godfather for Reggae’ in Basel. Caribarena asked how is he using this form of music to promote the values and cultures of Caribbean people.
“Well first I have to say reggae did choose me, because a man cannot choose his destiny. It is what we were chosen to be by God’s will. And as most people know, reggae was originally born in Jamaica. But in my 19 years in the business, 90% of my performances, I perform with the flag of my nation Antigua & Barbuda. Show the world the true identity of who I am and where I'm coming from which I think is the red, black, white, blue and red with the yellow sun in the middle. My Country is an important part of my life and I will do anything in my music power to keep our flag flying as high as possible.”
Although he embraces change, Martin definitely favours the uplifting impact of the reggae music of yesteryear over what is being promoted today.
“Well … what can I say … time changes, and so does life advance every day.
“I have to say respect to Bob Marley my mentor and my idol.
“The music industry changes. The earlier stage of reggae has a message just like the reggae today, but there is one thing I have been hearing, that money has power. In the sense that in today’s time, everyone is looking out for themselves which is OK. But there is one thing we seem to forget that music is a hearing tool for the mind and soul, music has influence in our daily lives. The new reggae today … yes it is still powerful, but think of it wisely. Artists such as Bob Marley, Burning Spear, Garnett Silk, Toots and the Maytals, Jimmy Cliff, Altona Ellis, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer … and I can still go on with names and we have to remember music is like our parents if we hear love … we love, if we hear hate … we are going to hate. Music has an influence in our lives.
So I would say the roots reggae music from before is more uplifting to us than the music today. It's all about making money in today’s time. The spirit of the music is hiding and it's up to us to bring it back with clean lyrics and love.
“I also do a lot of Soca and Calypso, because they are in our Main Musical Culture ... it is in the blood. And our Studio is Open to do all types of music;.We’ve been recording music styles from Reggae to Dancehall and Funk to electronic music etc. And most of all, I still work as a selector for my sound system Uprising Sounds.”
Martin says that his studio ‘Vybezstudiobasel’ is about to release a CD called ‘Good Vybez Vol. 1’, featuring various artists. He was excited to share the synergy that the various artistes shared in putting this together.
“It’s our first release from the studio. We’ve been recording for the last years … many artists … and now we’ve decided to put out a project with the work we have been doing. Not only reggae and dancehall but various styles and genres. There are artists from Jamaica such as Chezidek, Dutchie Gold, Karubel, Evada, Trademarc, Sico kid, Abasha and me Sugardaddy etc. There are three tracks on the album that were not recorded at my studio. The CD is available on www.cdbaby.com and iTunes etc. Now we are working on our second project. And you can check out my music on www.reverbnation.com/sugardaddy and in Facebook.com/WilliamMartin.”
Martin underscores the importance of Caribbean Artistes getting together to do more combinations (“combos’). But he stressed that discipline and respect are important values in order for this to work effectively.
“First of all, before we start to work together, we need discipline … and when we have that discipline we will be able to work more together. Being the star is not music … being ourselves makes us what we are. The music business is not an easy business so people … do not think it takes a good voice to make it. Hard work and good lyrics are also crucial to achieve the goal. What people need in life is love … and what the world needs is love. And there are many ways we can sing about love. No one needs war or fighting and fussing in this time so in our music, we should speak more about love and you will find that our Antiguan musicians will work more together” Martin said.
Every opportunity he gets Martin tells the world about his beautiful Antigua & Barbuda that he will always be proud of. He speaks of projects and programs to enhance that image.
“On my stage performances, I make sure I have the flag of Antigua & Barbuda in my hands and keep waving it up high because with dreadlocks, most people think I am a Jamaican. I also have been giving students advice in schools about reggae, rasta culture etc.”
In the earlier stages of his career, Martin said, he invited Antiguans to perform in Basel Switzerland and they relished the opportunity.
“Artists such as Promise, Danskie, Da Rock, General P. And most of all thanks to my brother Jerome Martín better Known as Zazayello. My brother who was one of the first Antiguan artistes to perform on my show with my well known sound system ‘Uprising Sounds’ and the first artiste to perform with the well known reggae band over here in Basel ‘The Scrucialists band’ which also had their first concert on my show and now they are the leading reggae band in Switzerland. And I also brought from Antigua the man with the longest dreadlocks on the island Corparal Mantana who amazed the people with his well taken care of dreads. I think that was one of the best shows we had and I would love to repeat a show like that. But still the work goes on.”
Asked what words of wisdom he would like to leave with the local entertainment industry here at home, Martin speaks of unity and teamwork as major attributes to building a successful industry and crossing any boundary.
“First, I would like to say let's get back to the roots, put all our differences aside … life is short.
“It is time for us to start to work together. One hand cannot clap. There is too much musical talent in Antigua & Barbuda and they can reach far with it. We need more help from the government. The way of providing a place and make more activities such as talent shows and winning prizes to encourage the youths more, Just like back in the days (when) African Treasure used to be, thanks to Corparal Mantana.”
Martin also gives kudos to events like Antigua Carnival, but thinks it needs more integration of Antiguans and Barbudans abroad who are in the business to join together with local artists to make it bigger and a once a year holiday spot like Summer Fest in Jamaica.
“Trust me; it can work in a positive way that our talented ladies and gentlemen can be prepared for this show. Like carnival.
People work together, it make more sense at the end of the day. Flash back on our state anthem ‘Fair Antigua and Barbuda, We thy sons and daughters stand, strong and firm in peace or danger to safe guard our native land. We commit ourselves to building a true nation brave and free. Ever striving ever seeking Dwell in love and unity.’
“I want the people of Antigua & Barbuda and our Caribbean Islands to stand up be proud, do good and work hand in hand to make this world a better place. Life is not the easiest today. And remember working as a team is the key to success. No matter what race or culture you are from, one man cannot win the game. Say no to crime and yes to love. Music is life.”
Martin said he is proud of his five sons, who all seem to be following in his footsteps.
“I have five sons; three of them are also into the music. The oldest one Winston is also a DJ. Zamoni and Malik do Hip Hop.
Check out www.yzgang.com. The two smallest boys (12 and 11 years old) are still in school, but also in a music school. (Main subject is music). And now in my 19 years of music I am a Selector, Producer, Promoter, Artist and most of all what I fully enjoy being is a father and grandfather. So you see ... music is in the blood.”