Directed by Josiah Persad, the visual boasts the beauty of the tropical island, capturing the energy of carnival and the essence of island life, vivid with colour and celebration.
The genre-blending track is sonically nostalgic while managing to remain universally Contempo, with traditional instrumentation such as steel pan playing alongside Kalpee’s smooth R&B vocal and a steady rhythmic back-beat. Kalpee is part of a new generation of Caribbean musicians pushing a fresh tropical sound aptly named ‘New Calypso’, delivering a modern fusion of Calypso, dancehall and reggae rhythm, laced with rock-inspired guitar riffs and supported by soulful melodies.
Of ‘Island Gyal’, Kalpee said: “I wanted this song to feel nostalgic, light and fun, ‘cause that’s what the islands remind me of. The music feels so much like home, blending genres like calypso and dancehall together and incorporating instruments like steel pan and brass, that remind me of Trini carnival.”
He explains how the track came to be, “The idea for the song started in Barbados and then I had to go back home to Trinidad, to capture the energy I thought was necessary for the track. As I landed in Trini, I linked up with my bro, Tano, who at the time had recently built his studio. I hadn’t seen him since before Covid happened, so I played him the idea of ‘Island Gyal’ and we immediately just started collaborating, vibing, talking about memories, about carnival and how sad it was that didn’t happen and I think that was the inspiration that helped us finish the song.”
Of the video, he continues: “It was important to me that we shot this video in Trinidad and Tobago as I wanted to capture the beauty of home and the diversity within its people. That’s what I envisioned when I wrote ‘Island Gyal’.”
‘Island Gyal’ follows the artist’s previous release, ‘Jump Off’, which in contrast took a darker tone and expressed themes of fear with suspenseful piano progressions. Kalpee is able to flawlessly capture the plethora of emotions that make up the human experience.
Kalpee has worked with platinum recording superstar Stefflon Don on his sun-soaked single ‘Gimme De Ting,‘ and with an elite lineup of Grammy Award producers and writers including Carla Marie Williams (Beyonce, Britney Spears, Rudimental, Sean Paul), Yei Gonzales (Diplo, Cardi B, Dj Khaled), Santiago Rodriguez (Little Mix, Pit Bull, Akon) and The Anmls (The Weeknd, Future, BANKS, Belly, D.R.A.M, French Montana, Meek Mill).
He has received radio support from BBC 1Xtra’s DJ Target and DJ Ace as well as Capital 1Xtra’s Ras Kwame and gained accolades from the likes of EARMILK, Official Charts, NOTION, CLASH, Complex UK, Hunger TV, Ladygunn, GRM Daily, Bonafide Magazine, Wonderland, House Of Solo and GUAP Magazine.
Earlier this Spring, Kalpee once again pioneered the ‘Island Wave’ stage at SXSW 2022, with the aim of continuing to create a growing platform for Caribbean artists to come together, showcase, celebrate and support each other’s music. The show in Austin, TX, was equally as successful as the first, which launched as part of SXSW online in March 2021, and was captured virtually in Kingston, Jamaica. Listed as a “recommended watch”, it ranked as one of the top-watched shows of the festival.
First of its kind, ’Island Wave’ is now not only the official home to Caribbean music at SXSW, but also the first home of ’New Calypso’, a genre being pushed by Trinbagonian musicians as a way to identify their musical heritage, which they proudly carry forward.
As Kalpee continues to explore his new Calypso sound and pursue his projects with intentional passion, he is very much affirming his position as an artist to watch in 2022.