Ktk bent on keeping them koming
Remember the name KTK –– because this multitalented band will be on the tip of your tongues for years to come, if I do say so myself.
KTK, you would think, related to the initials of the original members of the band: Kevyn Lynch, Tito Gittens and Kemar Yearwood. Yes, that was the original case. But today, with more members, including Dane Bascombe, Dexter Snagg and Juanita Clarke, and a much broader vision, KTK stands for Keep Them Koming.
Upon meeting this band and hearing them play, you quickly realize they are far from ordinary. In fact, they are quite extraordinary.
And even though having been together as the group KTK from April this year, these down-to-earth guys –– make no mistake about it –– are by no means, in any form or fashion, amateurs. Between them, they bring a wealth of talent
“On an individual level, each member of this band has weight,” says bandleader Kevyn. “Most if not all of us have played in many different bands. In terms of being individuals we have all made our mark in society in terms of music.
“So putting us together now, once the music is right and our focus is where it’s supposed to be, the possibility exists that people are going to enjoy and appreciate and talk about the group more.”
Kevyn, Tito, Kemar and Dane, all members of the Royal Barbados Police Force Band, and friends for many years, spoke to Bajan Vibes about why they decided to form the band, and about their amazing journey so far.
In a relaxed interview at The Barracks at District A Police Station, Kevyn –– “with a Y”, I would be told of the name as a point of note, and with a huge chuckle –– said he had a vision to start KTK because he wanted something to call his own.
“I had a serious vision to put together a group of young talented musicians to bridge the gap. Not just having the more experienced guys doing stuff, but also some younger guys doing some equally amazing things. My drive was to have a product of my own.
“All of us here are friends and everyone had a similar vision on an individual front to be pioneering in our generation, where music on a whole is concerned. So my vision was to bring together a group of friends to make the best possible product musically,” Kevyn explained.
KTK is all about jazz fusion, and the guys themselves are indeed a perfect blend –– if such does exist.
Kevyn has been playing the trumpet for 19 years. Tito, who plays the keyboard, trumpet and occasionally drums, has been in the industry for 16 years. Kemar has been playing bass since 2011, but has been a trombonist since he was seven years old. Dane, a bass player himself, sound engineer and second horn, has been a professional musician for 23 years.
They all said it was easy coming together, and described the journey so far as simply amazing.
“We are friends and have been playing together for quite sometime; so when we get together in that setting it gels because of the relationship that we have,” Kevyn said.
Tito added they were like a brotherhood, each looking out for the other so nothing gets in the way.
“We have been technically together from ages like 11 and 12. Dane filtered in very well. We been playing music together all the time. We understand each other.
“Things come up, obviously; normal stuff. But when music comes, together we are good,” Tito said proudly.
Dane added: “We are trying to build this brand. We are trying to keep KTK as is for now. We are looking at building ourselves as a marketable product. So in order to do that we have to keep our faces fresh, keep the music current.
“Kemar has a great groove. Tito is a whizz on the keyboard. His interpretation gives different colour. When we bring our spirit to it, it gives the music a totally different feel.”
However, the guys do not identify themselves as a jazz band, as they are very much versatile, and not afraid to show it.
“To label yourself in this society is very difficult,” says Kevyn. “The initial stance that we would have taken is that it was a jazz band with the concept of having fusions; but I found that if I labelled it jazz, persons who have a perceived notion of jazz would be deterred.
“So we stopped labelling ourselves as a jazz band, and put out that it’s fusions. We can play all genres,” Kevyn, the most vocal yet most reserved of the group stated.
With just a short time together, the guys have already made many memories, and backed some of Barbados’ biggest artistes. They each recounted their most memorable moments.
“At Sand Sea And Soca I got to play with my all-time favourite local soca artist Edwin Yearwood. I will always remember that. On one of our regular Tuesday night sessions, Richard Stoute, Shirley Stewart, some other major names of yesteryear, came to support this young group and came up onstage and in their words, it was a blessing to them to see musicians our age playing their music and sounding so good,” Kevyn recounted.
Tito said for him it was when they were just starting out.
“For me, my first three or four gigs with KTK were memorable. We started from the dirt. Sometimes you get two or five people. If it’s one set of advice I got that I will always carry with me, it is whether it’s five or ten people there, act like its 2,000.
“There was a night when they were 15 people. And we rocked that night. Trust me when I tell you we rocked hard. And it was on a really quiet night. And I said to myself then and there, this is something I could do every night.”
Kemar, the most soft-spoken and shyest of the group, said it was an extended set one Tuesday night that would stay with him for a long time to come.
“This particular night, the crowd would not let us leave. We ended up leaving after 11. We had to play a whole other set. It was a amazing!”
And they are now looking to much higher heights and taking it step by step.
And these very talented musicians even offered some advice to younger musicians trying to break into the industry.
Kevyn advised them to practise until permanent.
“Anyone that sees it as a possible career and takes it seriously, as cliché as it may sound, you have to practise, practise, practise. And practise again!
“You have to spend hours on top of hours trying to perfect your craft. You have to put in the time. Don’t be discouraged if it is something that you really want to do,” he said.
Dane, the most mature of the group, advised that younger musicians should figure themselves out first.
“Listen to as many genres as possible. Know what makes you marketable. Know what you bring to the table. What is your superpower? Bring you into what you play.”
Tito advised against fear.
“Do not be afraid to peruse all genres. Do not be stuck. Do not be afraid to step outside the box.
Kemar advised: “Make sure you are spot on each and every time. Know your worth.”