A return to the Chutney Soca Monarch (CSM) arena is the ‘One Thing’ on KI’s mind this Carnival.
KI (Kris Persad), celebrates a decade in the genre in 2020. The three-time CSM became the youngest to win the title in 2012 with the breakthrough hit “Single Forever”. He reclaimed the crown in 2014 with “Runaway” and last won it in 2016 with “Same Gyal Twice”.
After a two-year hiatus from competition KI says he is now ready to make a full return with his 2020 viral sensation “One Thing”. The music video for the self-penned and produced track has amassed over 300,000 views on YouTube within a month of release.
On video, KI roams through the cold streets of Toronto, Canada, lamenting that his girlfriend only calls him for one thing. He sings:
I doh have no money/she tell me doh worry/she doh want a house or a wedding/she does only call me for one thing
“I must say thanks to everyone for their Love on ‘One Thing’,” a grateful KI said when he sat with Kitcharee earlier this week.
The response to his “KICurlChallenge” has been overwhelming, he said. The online video contest urges fans to follow the song’s lyrics and “stop what yuh doing and curl” their wrists in the air.
“The release of this marked my return to Carnival and music full time. We made chutney soca history on YouTube as well by becoming the fastest chutney soca (music video) to get to hundreds of thousands of views in less than a month by actual people.
“I haven’t competed in the Chutney Soca Monarch since 2017, and yes, I am returning to compete this year. Let’s go for Monarch number 4. StopWuhYuhDoingAndCurl,” he added playfully.
Paying back the fans
KI said the high level of support and love he has received from chutney soca fans over the past decade is humbling. Their energy, he said, has called him back to the limelight as he is eager to once again make good of their loyalty.
Fans can expect two more tracks from the Barataria-based singer for Carnival 2020 including a groovy soca called “JJ” and what he calls a “power soca hybrid” with soca songstress Nailah Blackman entitled “High & Low”. KI & The Band will also be featured in concert alongside joint reigning Chutney Soca Monarch Neval Chatelal (a title he shares with Nishard Mayrhoo) at the Naparima Bowl in San Fernando on February 19.
“Ten years later we’re ready to show everyone even more. To show them how grateful we are for their undying support throughout the years. Over the last ten years, we’ve definitely developed a signature sound to our music and I can’t wait to share that this Carnival in Trinidad and internationally when touring season begins,” he said.
That widespread adulation for KI & The Band is the fruit of the seeds planted by his uncles 3Veni founders Narin and Sharma Ramdular. The two musicians formed the band along with the late Narsaloo Ramaya in 1977. In 1993 KI’s father Veerendra Persad took over the family band and forged a partnership with Mohan Jaikaran of JMC Records thereby rebranding the band JMC 3Veni Brass.
KI says the family’s musical legacy remains in safe hands. Together with his father he now shares ownership and leadership of the band, as KI & The Band, under the 3Veni Music Company. His younger brother Rich “Shan” Persad has founded Kingdom Sound in Toronto and is a successful songwriter and producer having produced Raul D’s “My Gyal” which won the inaugural Toronto Chutney Soca Monarch last year. And his two-year-old son is already showing a penchant for music.
“The responsibility is a lot, 3Veni being the first Indian band to go into downtown Carnival, transforming into the first crossover band. My father, brother, and I would definitely, for as long as we could, fly our 3Veni flag high, throughout all versions of the band.
“My son Krys Ayan Vey Persad is only two and a half so he’s a long way from deciding if music will be in his career path. From what I see though, he’s always watching the videos, playing on one of his instruments, and beating a rhythm on anything he could find,” KI laughed.
Asked to weigh in on the ongoing debate among his peers about the place of so called “rum and horn songs” in chutney soca music KI argued that despite the content storytelling still remains the backbone of the genre.
“Great is the art form. Difficult to defend all the time it is,” KI said with a wry smile.
“For the ones putting in those countless hours of music homework and nurturing your craft, I commend you and say thank you,” he continued seriously.
“The art form was built around storytelling. Those stories evolved into relatable stories as the years went by, singing about everyday situations and scenarios. I believe that this is the beauty of chutney soca: our story telling.
“What I felt was priceless when I saw, especially for ‘Single Forever’, everyone just elated and shouting out: ‘I go be single forever!’ And most times not taking it literally, but just letting go and enjoying the simplicity and relatability to the art form. I’ll definitely continue to dabble in my controversial storytelling with the chutney soca,” he concluded.