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Rolling into success

by Latoya Burnham

sokakartelSoka Kartel is back in Bim after raising the flag high in Suriname for CARIFESTA.

And the Blood and Mikey duo say they already have a packed agenda ahead, receiving calls to perform at several US universities and even Texas.

The two addressed the matter of their trip to CARIFESTA last weekend as they received their brand new Kia Rio vehicles at MQI yesterday morning – one for Soka Kartel’s win of the Party Monarch at Soca Royale and one for Blood’s success in the Sweet Soca competition.

“It was hot but it was great. The show went extremely, extremely well. The songs were very, very well received and from the time we came off stage they were like no, go back on, what are you doing tomorrow and Monday and Tuesday? So it was very, very well received. So we are looking for some good work coming out of that,” said Mikey.

Blood added: “At the end of it somebody said, ‘No one can top that for the rest of the festival’. It went down that well and I got a message this morning saying that people were still talking about it at breakfast.”

Blood, who is celebrating his 30th anniversary in the calypso arena, added that they did not necessarily know what to expect in Suriname although he had been there before.

“Sometimes when you go into a new, well really not so new for me, but you don’t know what to expect and just before the show, because the crowd was scattered all over the place and visiting various booths and what’s not, we weren’t sure if we were going to have a crowd in front of us, but as the House of Landship went on first and did a small part of the play that they did which went down very, very well by the way… and then the crowd started to gather and from the time we hit the stage it was energy.

“Everybody was just responding to whatever we did and although the time was cut a little short we managed to get everything we wanted to do in still and have a great performance,” Blood said.

From here, the duo said they were ready for a fresh set of touring and overseas performances. They said as individuals they had acts scheduled, as well as a band with universities being among them.

Describing the work ahead as a “very busy schedule”, Mikey said they were also hitting Labour Day, though they were not sure which day exactly they would be entertaining the expected massive crowds on the road, as there were also a few shows over the weekend at which they would be performing.

Soka Kartel said their success at Crop-Over 2013 was also having spill over effects for Barbados as a carnival and entertainment destination as well.

“It has been doing great things for Barbados. We are getting a lot of people, on all of the social media people are saying if this is what Crop-Over is like and if this is what soca music does, we have to come to Crop-Over. So it is really getting out there. Barbados is de place to come and Crop-Over is perfectly placed. It is the sweetest summer festival and we have the perfect compliments, beautiful beaches, beautiful people and so on,” said Mikey.

Blood added: “And it feels, especially with this song, Roll It, it feels like a reawakening of Barbadian music out there in the world. People have been calling from Houston, I got a call from Houston for the first time in a very, very long time, so it shows that people have come to Barbados, they heard the music for Crop-Over and those who have not heard it, the word is definitely spreading. We are just hoping that from here on in, we can just give this rebirth of Barbadian music and take it out to the world and continue to roll with it and make it better as time goes on.”

Soka Kartel said working as a team had been a learning experience for both of them and through their focus and planned approach to the festival this year they had hit almost all the targets they had set.

“At the beginning of this year I told Blood, we have to come up with a plan and we have to stick to the plan and this year we both stuck to the plan right through and it worked out almost perfectly,” said Mikey.

“We had a little web in there, a little cobweb,” Blood laughed, hinting at calypso colleague Ian Webster’s win of the Pic-O-De-Crop Monarch.

“It is still a work in progress and we are planning for next year already. So trust when we say this is only the tip of the iceberg and we have a lot of stuff coming.”

The artistes said they were also finding innovative ways of getting their music out there and into the ears of soca lovers. Rather than a CD, Blood this year produced his music on a flash drive.

“We had a slight set back with the flash drives. We do have some, but we do intend to make sure they are in the stores and available,” he said, adding that they were also making the music available for purchase on sites like and, while Mikey noted that his should soon be available for purchase on iTunes as well.

Blood said his approach to getting the music out there stemmed from the fact that it really was difficult to get people to buy CDs anymore.

“It is online for sure because CDs, the actual physical CD, it’s pretty hard to sell and it is selling in a short space of time when the visitors are here and everybody is in for Crop-Over. So you know what we do, we try to get those in the stores at that time and then make sure that we can capitalise on the online sales.

Additionally, they have built up a considerable following on Twitter, through Facebook as well as Mikey’s website, which they say fans can use to stay in touch with what is happening.

Recognising that the youth are the future of the festival, Blood said he tried as much as possible to work with the youngsters in the studio to get the best out of them when recording and to help prepare them for live performances as well.

“The young people, they are the future of the festival, no matter what anybody says. Without the youth we won’t have any growth really. We have to keep teaching them, pulling them forward because tomorrow they are the ones who are going to take over from us when we retire, if we retire.”

Mikey said it all could not have happened without the support they had received this year from the private sector through sponsorship, and added praise for MQI for sticking with the festival as a major sponsor over the past few years.

“The backing of the private sector is very, very important. Crop-Over for the artists, a lot of people would see they win two cars that valued at this amount, but if we were to really get into the figures of how much we invested into the season, trust me it would scare you.

“We are very thankful to our corporate partners and the private sector getting on board with Crop-Over because they understand the importance of Crop-Over because everyone benefits from Crop-Over whether they choose to admit it or not, from the person selling ice on the road to the fetes, everyone benefits from it, and the more the private sector gets involved the bigger and better Crop-Over will become and I want to commend MQI coming on board and getting involved in the festival in a big way.”

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