Devere ‘Ill Blaze’ Birch is a Bashment Soca artiste who used music as a way to keep himself out of trouble while he was growing up.
The former student of St James Secondary School now Fredrick Smith Secondary said growing up in Black Rock he was surrounded by gangs, drugs and violence and he knew that he wanted to make better of his life, therefore he turned to music.
“I wanted to achieve more in my life, so I decided to pursue music as it was a way for me to keep off the streets and stay out of trouble. Growing up was not easy, life was a neverending action movie,” he said.
He was determined to make something of his life and began freestyle rapping to music at the tender age of 14-years-old.
“One day while I was hanging out with my childhood friend who told me that I was so good at freestyle rapping that I should take it seriously and do music full time. I took his advice and started to write songs to rap beats on sounddlick.com Another childhood friend of mine Kemar Mascoll introduced me to some older men from my area who were heavily involved in rap music, so they allowed me to be a member of their group called Infamous Bay Rules
(I.B.R) and they began teaching me the ropes to become an artiste,” he said.
But it was not all smooth sailing as I.B.R became defunct three years later and Kemar Mascoll introduced him to a producer named Dyce who was then recording music for Stainless Army Recording Studio.
“Three years after the group broke up and I was on my own once again until Kemar introduced me to Dyce who now resides in Canada. He worked then for Stainless Army Recording Studio, and he took me to meet the other artiste under his roster one of them being Junior Killa aka John Buck Wild and that was when I was introduced to Soca music,” he said.
Ill Blaze said that he got the name because back then he had an uncontrollable temper and also was ‘ill’ on each song that he recorded. He decided to put them together and his pseudonym was born.
Birch who is now 29 years old said since his introduction to music one of his greatest highlights was becoming a paid artiste.
“I would have to say my biggest highlight in my career so far is seeing how far I have come from and being paid for doing what I love the most – music. I struggled long and hard in Barbados before I travelled to reside in Guyana,” he said.
The Bashment Soca artiste said that despite his success he has realised that in Barbados his music is not widely played.
“Here in Barbados, I think there is too much favouritism in this country as far as artistes are concerned. I personally believe that every artiste should be given the opportunity to have their music aired on the radio once the music is of good quality and has a positive message.
“I have released plenty of songs in Guyana and emailed my music over here to DJs and when I returned to Barbados three years after hardly anyone heard my music and the most of whom heard my music was through social media. Over in Guyana I am recognised as an international artiste and I am recognised as and paid as such, but in Barbados,
“I am treated as though I am nobody,” he said.
Due to his lack of radio play, Ill Blaze decided to reach out to Islandlinks Radio Show as a way to ensure his music is played and reaches a wide cross-section of persons as the radio station is hosted on an online platform.
“After returning to Barbados becoming a part of Islandlinks Radio Show was an absolute honour as those guys embraced me with open arms and made me feel as though I was a part of their movement.
“I was never treated this way by local stations, and I never heard any of my songs played on local radio. If it wasn’t for my cousin Anderson DJ Timeless Birch on air, I probably would not have heard my music played,” he said.
The holder of a diploma in Computer Graphics from the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic had some words of advice for any young aspiring musician.
“My advice to anyone who wishes to become an artiste is to invest in the necessary education needed for this line of work like I did. I did a music marketing and digital advertising course while residing overseas plus I left Barbados with the creative knowledge to be able to sustain myself as an artiste.
Also, spend a lot of time perfecting your craft and do a lot of research in the field of marketing because music is a business you don’t just blow up on the airwaves in a day it is a consistent process,” he said.
Persons who are desirous of listening to Ill Blaze music can follow him on Facebook @illblazemusic. (PR)