DERRON Blackman has found his niche.
Discovering one’s sense of belonging when you’re a member of a large family of gifted singers, songwriters and musicians is no small thing. But Blackman who has played a supportive role in the careers of his siblings and other musicians is finally creating his own artistic space as he pursues a solo music career under the name D’Blackman.
The Blackmans are Trinidad’s original musical family act. In fact D’Blackman’s upbringing was so unique that it could be ripped from a Hollywood script: father gets an epiphany, changes his life, takes his wife and children to live in the forests of Piparo where they form the band The Love Circle and perform for live audiences. It was there in Piparo that D’Blackman followed in the footsteps of his father, Ras Shorty I, and accepted his destiny to become a musician, he was only ten when he began playing music. He started with the African drums which he played during the 80s classic “Watch Out my Children” and was the young restless boy featured in the music video running down a hillside with his shoulder length hair blowing in the wind.
“For me music was pretty much the source of our well-being. Putting a song together and playing music was like a moment where we could bond as a family, get to know each other better and just enjoy the vibes,” he says.
When D’Blackman accompanied his father and a few of his siblings to the US in 1997 to perform, he made the very grown up decision not to return to Trinidad. Instead D’Blackman moved to New York and he and his brothers took their music on the road. In time, however, playing music became less of a passion and more of a job or a chore for him.
“We were going from country to country every three months. I got tired of living out of a suitcase. I needed somewhere where I could settle down and become stable,” he says. D’Blackman then moved to California where he went on to do drums and vocals for different bands over the course of 13 years.
“I think I got burnt out, I was doing music for so many years and yet I felt stagnant like I wasn’t going anywhere musically and inspirationally,” he says.
After taking a break to clear his mind, he felt the need to get back into music. By the time D’Blackman moved to North Carolina, a friend and co-worker asked him if he wanted to join his band the Brown Dirt Cowboys and after doing that for a while, the realisation hit him; he was tired of being a drummer who sings.
“My whole life I was just the drummer who sings backups, I’ve played for multiple bands and I thought “why am I doing this for everybody else and I’m not doing this for myself?” That’s when I decided I was just going to do my own thing,” he says.
Rediscovering music’s joy
Last year, D’Blackman dropped his first solo track “Put it On Me” along with the music video. The song which is a bit of Trini soca with a hip-hop and R&B vibe is a departure from the music he has played with other bands before. He was so adamant about creating his own music that he decided to buy his own equipment and set up a studio at home.
“I remember the days when I was with my father in the studio, he would go through the songs over and over again. I was like “How many times are you going to listen to the same thing?” Now that I’m making my own music I catch myself doing the same thing and I feel like I’m in the same position my dad was in back then, I feel like I’m living it now,” he says.
D’Blackman has rediscovered the excitement and joy of creating music.
Since last year he’s collaborated with Project Studio on the track “There for You” which was followed by the release of “Put It On Me”. D’Blackman is currently working on his latest song, a latin-flavoured track titled “Tonight” which will be released very soon. He is also scheduled to perform for Siren Radio International’s online Carnival on August 30.
He also has ideas of remaking some of his father’s old soca music, in his own way.
“If you listen to my dad’s old soca music, they are phenomenal but just a bit outdated. I want to take some of those and put it into today’s music,” he says.
D’Blackman may have left Trinidad many years ago but the culture, heritage and music of his childhood as well as the influence of his father has made him who he is today.
“Even though I became a US citizen, in my mind and in my heart I am still a Trinidadian,” he says.
D’Blackman’s music is available on Vevo, Spotify, Apple and YouTube. To get his latest music updates go to @DerronBlackman or @dblackman97.