Gamal “Skinny Fabulous” Doyle has been in the music industry for the past 22 years and will release his first album called BAD on January 12. BAD is an acronym for Beyond A Doubt.
An official launch will be held at The Residence Restaurant and Bar, Port of Spain, from 7.30 pm on January 12.
For those wondering why it has taken the musician, singer and songwriter known for his hits like 2019’s Famalay done with Machel Montano and Bunji Garlin or 2014’s Worst Behaviour, so long to do an album, he candidly said it was because he was guilty of falling into the trap of festival music.
“I, myself, was guilty of being comfortable in seeing soca music as just a touring genre; a genre that is based around performances.
“As long as I was fully booked every year, I did not see the importance of an album. I was getting to generate revenue, I was seeing fans and I was doing what I loved. So having an album did not take priority because I did not see the importance as much as I see it now.”
However, soca in an ever-increasing digital world has illustrated to him the importance of good streaming numbers and having a strong body of work associated with his brand and name. It is important to him for people googling his name to easily find this.
His commitments for 2023 include dominating the digital space more.
The album is part of this plan. He has been working on the album for the last year and a half.
The 23-track album showcases his vocal diversity and ability and takes the listener through a variety of moods, he said.
Some of the album’s singles are already in rotation on the airwaves. One of those is Come Home, featuring Nailah Blackman.
The tracks are being slowly and strategically released and features collaborations with Nessa Preppy, Jamaican dancehall artistes like Charly Black and Bounty Killer, and St Martin’s singer/songwriter/producer Oswald .
It also features many of the other genres which have fused with soca over the years including Afrobeats and dancehall. Doing this allows him not to be boxed into one particular range or sound.
There is even a groovy soca track which he approaches from a “very soft and soothing angle,” he said.
“Then there is the very aggressive typical Skinny Fabulous on there as well. As you go through the album you will be able to appreciate the softer, more vocally-tame Skinny, and then there is the beast.”
There is a song called Apology which speaks to taking someone’s love for granted and not realising that the person meant a lot until they were gone.
For him, BAD also meant expressing the contents of his heart.
“Whatever mood I am in, in the studio. It may not work in a J’Ouvert party, it may not work for crossing the stage but it works in terms of how honest I am, with myself, in that moment.
“I think people would appreciate that more, if we allow them to appreciate it more,” he said.
It was also important to him to address a range of topics as soca music is such a festival-driven genre and, it might appear, that one only gets to appreciate it when one goes to a Carnival and feels it, he said.
He said there were many songs that did not address the festival but those were not often played on radio.
“We are also in an industry that we depend on the feedback, the play and rotation to know what works. So you have people putting out songs that address a certain level of positivity and then you turn on the radio and you don’t hear them.
“If I put out five songs, I sing one about my mom and I say, ‘Respect to my mom, I love my mom, big up to all mothers of the world. We must cherish and appreciate them.’
“If I put out that song and I put out a song about drinking Puncheon and getting drunk on the Avenue, I can tell you, possibly or most likely, that Puncheon and Avenue song will play more.”
People needed to show support for the songs that are about positivity too, he added.
While artistes have a responsibility to create those kinds of songs, Skinny Fabulous said people also needed to show support for those and more of it would play.
This is why he wants to encourage more artistes to create albums.
“If more artistes take the time out every year or every two years to put together a body of work that represents not just themselves but the artform that is soca, I think that could only lend itself to the development of the genre on a global scale.”
This would also allow for greater measurement of the genre’s successes which could lead to things like a Grammy.
Despite this, however, Skinny Fabulous said the genre has been making progress and gaining the attention of the mainstream music industry.
“I think some of the viral songs we have had in the last two years are of soca influence or straight soca. Denise Belfon had a nice, big plug with Work, Patrice Roberts and the Jada Pinkett Smith singing all of these songs that are soca. You have Famalay that keeps popping up in the background music of reality shows or big parades across the world that has nothing to do with Caribbean culture.”
These moments needed to be turned into measurable units such as sales and streaming numbers, he said.
The covid19 pandemic showed many artistes that they could not depend on a Carnival to be productive, Skinny Fabulous said.
As Trinidad and Tobago prepares for the “mother of all carnivals” and as the region and world readies itself for the Carnival rotation, Skinny Fabulous’ main goal is to maintain his standing in the soca fiefdom.
He said it was a challenge doing so in today’s world but one that kept him driven.
He called on soca lovers across the world to show their love for the genre and its musicians by purchasing their work.
“Let us treat the music with respect and let us support our own music in a different kind of way other than jumping and waving. It is 99 cents for a song. The same money you can take and drink two beers on the Avenue and not have anything to show for it the next day.
“It is that same frivolous money you can take can support your artistes,” he said.
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