Bajan song writing duo, Water Street Boyz, has been receiving nothing but praise and positive feedback since they released We Got This, a song they penned, which involves 25 artistes from 14 territories. We Got This is an inspirational song which speaks to Caribbean countries coping with the COVID-19 global pandemic.
The duo of Ian Iweb Webster and Cheyne Jones told Bajan Vibes that they received commendation from Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley five minutes after the video was aired on Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).
Former Calypso Monarch Iweb explained how the project came about.
“Khiomal [Nurse] reached out and said he wished we could do a song and showed me a video of Trinidadians, this thing with Destra and Kes and others singing on this song. I said to Mali if we do something like this, let us do it as a regional thing and not for [just] Barbados.
“Let us try something that no one is doing. Let us try to reach across the region and make it happen. Even though that is what I wanted to do, and that was the vision I had in my head, I said let me link with Cheyne and see what he is thinking because I didn’t write the tune alone.”
He continued: “Cheyne agreed, so we then reached out to Chris [Allman]. Chris was down from the ball one. Then I reached out to Selwyne Browne. Given the situation, it doesn’t make sense just releasing a song. You’ve got to release it with something for people to see. We needed visual impact. We also got Riddim Tribe dance group on board.”
Cheyne said the song, which was written for this COVID-19 period, took them about ten hours to complete.
“Ian went to school in Trinidad and I went to Mona so we would have had a lot of links. Even if we didn’t know some of the artistes personally, we were still able to link a guy and say put me on to this artiste. There were some “no’s” which worked out. But the people who agreed readily agreed, and the project was made with zero budget. We were able to get all these people who did not ask for a red cent. People went into their closets with towels and recorded to song. And that is the beauty of the project. And we have made no money from it.”
The major challenge for the team was managing the technical aspects of the project. Iweb said he created some guidelines for the artistes to follow, and he also scripted the song and assigned lines to certain people. That, he said, was the most time-consuming and gruelling part of it. But it was worth it. After three weeks of pulling it together, the group is being inundated with positive feedback.
Iweb said: “The response has been overwhelming. In St Kitts alone someone messaged and showed me that on their Facebook page they had gotten 15,000 hits already. So this had already been viewed millions of times across the globe. We have gotten messages from the British High Commission, advertising agencies, people who work on the frontline; all kinds of people are reaching out. We have been doing interviews from about Saturday till today with various media houses across the region.”
Cheyne said it has been “phenomenal”. “We have had interviews on live news. We have had interviews translated into French. It has been phenomenal. There are thousands upon thousands of views on YouTube. There has been a flooding of messages with people giving their positive feedback.”
On a personal level, they both expressed how creating the project and the public’s reception have made them feel. Cheyne admits that he got emotional when he finally found time to think about it.
“Ian is not only my writing partner. Ian is my brother. He is the godfather of my son. Ian and I have known both successes, as a writing team, [and we’ve] had some falls in trying to push the envelope and letting our creativity flow. What I will say is there is an immense pride in what you see.”
He continued: “Sometime in the wee hours of the morning, around 3 a.m., I woke up to get a drink of water and I was drinking the water. I then went on YouTube and watched it by myself in silence for the first time and the emotions came. The tears welled up in my eyes. The feeling of the pride of being behind this and knowing that it is part of something much bigger now. That special moment alone gave me a real feeling of purpose and satisfaction. It’s always wonderful when you see people loving what you love and what you have done.”
Iweb, who is a teacher, recalled his initial reaction to what he described as “magic”. “From the time I got back the final mix, I was in my room freaking out. I was like: ‘Wow, this sounds so good.’ And my father was like: ‘This is a big song, this is a big song. This is a big one Ian, a big one’,” he said as he laughed.
“There is a certain magic about it. The biggest thing about it is that it came from a sincere place and it mushroomed and blossomed into something that we could never have imagined. The sense of pride Cheyne spoke of I feel similarly. Like he said, we have tasted success, and we have tasted salt,” the artiste said to Bajan Vibes.
The duo believes that entertaining and using whatever creativity you have to connect to people during this difficult period is what’s needed most now.
Iweb said: “The game has changed now. It is not just about being an entertainer any more. You have to be able to use what is available to you to connect with your audience. We have to tap into a different dimension of creativity. This COVID-19 period has people locked away in their homes and this can have serious mental and emotional negative effects on people. These kinds of projects are therapeutic for people who just need to hear a song, something to hold on to, something that’s inspirational.”
Cheyne believes the restrictive measures, though needed, are having an adverse effect on many. “A project like this is very important to the psychosocial aspect of society. When I look at Twitter, people freaking out at every little thing. People are cussing and getting on bad, even West Indies cricketers, everybody cussing and getting on bad. This whole staying at home thing is freaking out people. The entertainment is very, very critical to the psychosocial aspect of society,” the journalist by profession said.
Prior to this project, the writers were working on 15 to 18 songs for this year’s Crop Over season. Water Street Boyz recorded their first victory in 2014 when Ian won the Pic-O-De-Crop with Still My Home and Karaoke Song. Since then, they have placed in the top three at the Crop Over competitions.
In 2017, they co-wrote the winning Junior Monarch song Golden Chain for Sparkle T. The same year, they wrote Ian’s winning Pic O De Crop songs Salesman and For The Souls. In 2018 and 2019, Quon won the Junior Monarch with the duo’s Why I Sing and Smart.
In 2019, Water Street Boyz won Song Writer of The Year Award at the Crop Over Gala and Awards. The duo has also written songs for artistes from St Martin and Anguilla. (IMC)
Take a listen to We Got This by the Water Street Boyz here: https://youtu.be/EXcY7MK7X6Q
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