“Come to my place baby let’s have a staycation. Let me take you away on a vacation”.
That open invitation from reggae/hip hop crooner Rheon Elbourne to singer Stef Kalloo does much more than perfectly open their new bound-to-be-a-hit collaboration “Staycation”.
For one, the Pronto (Joseph Figueroa) and Isaac Cozier-produced track represents Kalloo’s debut on the Trinibad circuit. That on its own, adds a whole new level of credibility to the often-maligned genre, seeing that Kalloo is essentially viewed as a pop artiste.
On the other hand, Kalloo’s very interest in a Trinibad production also means the genre itself is crossing frontiers. Trinibad acts continue to outperform all other forms of music in T&T with island-leading online metrics.
Kalloo’s laid back vocals do something even more profound for Trinibad music. “Staycation” is a virtual meeting in the middle. It showcases a softer side to the usually aggressive infant genre. Perhaps Trinibad is finally coming out of those terrible-twos and becoming a sound all sectors of local society can openly embrace.
“I would say that we all have a part to play in our lyrics, what we allow into our systems, as well as what we are feeding to the public,” Kalloo responded when presented with that hypothesis during a WhatsApp exchange on Wednesday.
Kalloo insists it’s an exciting time for music in T&T. She admits the prospect of working with Elbourne isn’t necessarily about “jumping into de Trinibad ting” but instead an opportunity to create with an artiste she has long admired.
“I didn’t even think about that (jumping in de Trinibad) when we decided to do the track,” Kalloo laughed.
“I genuinely always liked Rheon’s music and his lyrical flow and we saw each other after a couple of events and said we have to work together. One day during the lockdown period we both made it happen,” she added.
Two sides of the same musical coin
Kalloo and Elbourne both live in Caroni, in central Trinidad. Yet, they come from entirely different backgrounds and musical expressions. That is where the sweetness lies, Kalloo winked.
The duo’s genuine chemistry is undeniable in the Antonio Achee-directed music video for “Staycation” which is currently available on YouTube.
“It was amazing working with him and seeing how easy he can just create and come up with lyrics. It comes naturally to him and we both vibe off each other’s energy, lyrics and melodies.
“I would urge artistes from different genres to work together and challenge each other. There’s always something to learn in music, songwriting and how people create. I’m always fascinated by it and it’s a great way to share audiences. It’s all about that pure love for the craft that organically filters to the listeners out there,” Kalloo said.
Elbourne said crossovers like his latest with Kalloo is exactly where he wants to be “a versatile artiste existing between the genres”.
“I doh like to be a one-track artiste; music evolves. Working with Stef was flawless, we really just hold a vibe and by the time she leave we had the song done. These kinds of projects really show the diversity that the island represents, where every creed and race find an equal place,” Elbourne said.
Trinibad can do Trini-good
Every artiste sets their own personal yardstick to success, Kalloo said. That measurement can evolve with time and experience and she says, “its ok to switch up the direction as long as its translated into something to be proud of”.
“We can all measure success differently. I measure mine by the impact I would make on people and how I feel about myself when I create something that represents me in the truest way in that moment of time,” she explained.
Elbourne, however, says his music comprises recordings of his personal therapy sessions and not necessarily representations of what is trending.
“A lot of artistes would just do what trending because that’s what people would be in to and what would play in clubs and on radio. Music is for me to express myself no matter how I feel on any given day. I doh feel the same way every day. There are days I doh feel to jump and wave or to be aggressive or to get up and work. I just try to put those feelings out through different streams to help calm myself and in turn help soothe somebody else who might be feeling that kind a way,” Elbourne added.
Kalloo, meanwhile, says “evolution is inevitable in music” and hearing and seeing the new direction of music in T&T inspires and informs her own creative process.
“My responsibility now as an artiste is to be true to myself and my experiences in the best way possible. I think locally we are opening up to new sounds and we have that balance of playing positive feel good music. Personally, I think there should be more of it to uplift and lead the audiences into allowing good energies especially during these trying times.
“I’m having fun just exploring and experimenting with new sounds as well as elements of different eras. I love pushing myself and can’t wait to see where it takes me next. That’s the beauty of trusting the universe and just letting yourself go into the art,” Kalloo concluded.