Trinbagonian, UK-based musician Kalpee’s latest EP Feel Good Playlist Vol. 1 is inspired by his Caribbean roots, which fuses reggae and calypso into a contemporary R&B, pop sound. Having already collaborated with the likes of Carla Marie Williams, Yei Gonzales, Santiago Rodriguez and Stefflon Don, this multi-talented artist is set for big things in 2021.
Keep your eyes peeled and give Feel Good Playlist Vol. 1 a spin further down.
Hi Kalpee! Can you start by telling us a bit about yourself?
Hey, I’m an artist/producer from an island called Trinidad and Tobago, creating a style of music called ‘Chilled Calypso’, part of a wider genre known as ‘Island Pop’. I’ve been singing since the age of six so music has pretty much been a constant in my life.
Talk us through Feel Good Playlist Vol. 1…
Feel Good Playlist Vol. 1, is my new five track EP that was created during lockdown in the UK. I got the opportunity to work with some dope writers, producers and artists, which has been an amazing experience for me. Being able to work with Grammy award-winning creatives really helped to elevate aspects of my craft and take things to another level.
The EP includes two features, Stefflon Don on the lead single Gimme De Ting and Trinbagonian duo Freetown Collective on a track called Climb. I've put a lot of love into my music, all of my soul goes into it, because I know how powerful music can be, it’s like a medicine. If you’re having a bad day, put some positive music on, I guarantee you, it’ll switch your mood. To me, my music feels like being on a beach during sunset time. If that’s your vibe, go take a listen.
When you’re not making music, you’re a motivational speaker. Tell us more…
I’ve been doing school tours for quite some time, talking to the younger generation about balancing going to school with being a musician. I like making hopeful feel good music and writing about topics that might motivate or inspire someone, so the school tours organically turned into more of a motivational talk. I see a lot of benefits that can come from reminding people, especially the younger generation, of their importance and their potential to be whatever they decide to be in life. All it takes is someone saying the right thing at the right time to change an opinion or a mindset. A little bit of encouragement goes a long way too. I remember going to school as a young adult and having teachers tell me very discouraging things about music not being an actual career path and that affected my confidence. Sometimes that can be enough to stop someone from doing what they love, all because of another person’s lack of belief.
Having experience depression when recovering from a serious accident I had last year, and also having close friends that suffer with mental health issues, I have learnt that by opening up and talking with people about our shared experiences helps us all deal with life’s issues a little better.
How much does Trinidad and Tobago influence the music you make?
I get a lot of inspiration from my home Trinidad and Tobago, going to the waterfalls and beaches, or going to Paramin to watch the mountains. My environment is always a big part of where I go to refill or look for new inspiration. Growing up in Trinidad has also given me the calypso and soca cadences and rhythms, so when I approach my music I naturally lean towards blending the genres I’m used to with more commercial genres like pop, rock and trap.
What are your golden rules for songwriting?
The rules always change but usually, it’s melodies first then lyrics after. I think this helps me get the strongest songs because I have more control over my note selection. Melody to me is almost more important that the writing because that’s the first thing the listener hears. So, once you have a melodic structure that flows, the writing has somewhere to sit. In terms of writing, I let the chord progression and melodies tell me what I want to talk about based on the mood.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
I listen to a lot of instrumentalists like FKJ, Tom Misch and lo-fi, because it makes my surroundings feel cinematic and I enjoy that. Other artists I really enjoy would be Chronixx, Santi, Burner Boy.
What’s next for Kalpee?
Definitely more music. I have so much that I can’t wait to share and some exciting performances coming up in the new year. Having had performances like The Great Escape and SXSW cancelled due to COVID, I can’t wait to perform live again, especially the new EP. I’m also expanding by working with other artists, producing and writing so I’m excited to see where that goes. Most importantly I want to continue learning and growing.