On a recent trip to the Bahamas, Yardflex caught up with Obi Pindling, manager of and performer in the number one party band in The Bahamas - Visage. We grabbed Obi for a sit-down to discuss a number things, including the band's diverse repertoire; their current single, "Party Starter"; the impact world wide of Visage and plans in the pipeline.
Yardflex: Tell us a little about yourself and about Visage - how and when was it formed?
OBI: I have ALWAYS been into music and was in my first band at 12 which was a group of us neighbourhood kids delving into music. In high school, I started another band to participate in the newly-commenced Inter High School talent show. The two years we participated, we won. After graduating from high school at age 16, in 1975, I went to Boarding school in Canada to do their grade 13 program rather than doing "A" levels here at home. In Canada, it was a 6-subject program as opposed to the 3 for "A" levels. I started law school at the University of Sussex in England at age 17 in 1976. Got my law degree in 1979, and went to Bar school in London and was called to the Bar in England in July 1980 and in the Bahamas in August 1980 at the tender age of 21.
I formed the band in August 1981, some six months after returning home from law school and four months of pupillage in London.
Yardflex: Who are the members of Visage?
OBI: Current members are:
Dyson Knight - lead & BG vocals
Nehemiah Hield - lead & BG vocals
Wendy lewis - lead & BG vocals
Erica Lightbourne - lead & BG vocals
Shawn Ferguson - lead & BG vocals
Obi Pindling - guitar, keyboards, background vocals
Ian Young - bass
Carlos Dean - drums
Keiran Roker - keyboards
Antoyne Hinsey - keyboards
Benjamin Alexander - samples, seqencing & programming
Yardflex: What genre of music does Visage specialise in?
OBI: .At home, we are primarily known as a soca band, since we are the first band in the country to concentrate heavily on playing the top soca hits from the region. This started back in 1986. Having said that, however, the band's repertoire is extremely diverse also performing Bahamian junkanoo & rake & scrape music, ole skool 70's & 80's R&B/Soul/Dance classics, reggae, contemporary jazz and also contemporary top 40.
Yardflex: Tell us about Visage's discography
OBI: We recorded and released our first single in 1983 which was a junkanoo song entitled "Junk-A-Jam". Our second single was a reggae tune entitled "Emmie" released in 1984 which was engineered and produced by legendary Jamaican engineer/producer, Steven Stanley at Compass Point studios here in Nassau.In 1995, we released another junkanoo single "Ya Better Move On". This single was the impetus for us to recording an album, which we started later that same year.
Those sessions contained a variety of genres -- junkanoo, soca and reggae and our fusion of junkanoo and soca which we called "Socanoo". We released the CD, entitled "Energy" in 1996 and it was extremely successful spawning no less than seven major hits. The very first release was a dancehall tune called "Conch Soup" which was produced by yet another legendary Jamaican producer, Dave Kelly.
Our next CD was released in 2001, when we teamed up with top soca producer, Darron Grant from Barbados, who was a childhood friend of our bass player, Ian Young, who is also from Barbados. Entitled "Brigga Dum Bram", this CD was, again, extremely popular and successful. That too, spawned 7 hits nationally. This CD marked the first time Visage had any international success and the single "Hold Ya Head" garnered immense airplay throughout most of the region and on Caribbean radio stations in the US, Canada and the UK. In fact, "Hold Ya head" was licensed by VP Records and put onto their "Soca Gold" compilation CD in 2002. That year also started a run of performances at Trinidad Carnival in 2002, 2003 and 2004 for the band
We teamed up with Darron for two more CD's. The next CD entitled "Power" was released in 2003. While not resulting in as many hits as the first 2 CD's, we scored internationally with a tune called "Still Need A Man" which again, was licensed by VP for the Soca Gold CD in 2003.
In 2004, we released a CD called "Xplosion" with similar results to "Power". VP wanted to license another tune "Man Shortage" but this was derailed because of legal disputes over their deduction of taxes from our royalties while we were never citizens or Residents of the US.
We took a six-year hiatus from recording another CD and never went back in the studio until 2010 when we released a CD entitled "Nuttin' But Da Truth" which scored three very popular tunes here including the very popular "Til Me Time Come" which was produced by legendary Trinidadian producer, the late "Sheldon "Shelshok" Benjamin.
Yardflex: What have been your biggest hits to date?
OBI: Locally, I would say "Conch Soup", "Energy", Das Junkanoo", "Nuttin' In It", "Come Into My Room", "Get De Hell Out De Party" "Better Move On".
Both at home and internationally, "Hold Ya Head", Still Need A Man" and "Til Meh Time Come"
Yardflex: Where are some of the places the band has toured?
OBI: Trinidad, St. Maarten, Miami, Ft. LauderdaleChicago, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Toronto, Turks and Caicos and, of course, all over the Bahamas.
Yardflex: What project(s) are you working on now?
OBI: We just released a new single in December called "Party Starter". Additionally, some of my vocalists have recorded solo projects which we include in our stage presentations. Among them are "La Bam Bam" by Benji,who is from St. Lucia ; "Een Missin' It" by Wendy and "Our Party" by Dyson.Last month, we concluded negotiations of a 2 song production deal with another major Trini producer for release later this year.
At the moment, we are putting tons of rehearsal time in for our 2 upcoming performances at the bahamas Junkanoo carnival (first on Aril 16th and the 2nd on 6th May) as well as 2 performances in Beijing, China at the Latin American and Caribbean Music Festival May 1 to 3, where we have been selected to represent the Bahamas.
Yardflex: Who comprises your management team?
OBI: Me, myself and I. (Laughs)
Yardflex: Are you signed to a label?
OBI: No we are not.
Yardflex: What has been the impact of Visage locally and internationally?
OBI: Locally, Visage is immensely popular, known as "the Bahamas' #1 Party Band" because of our high energy performances.
Internationally, I cannot honestly say that we have made any "impact" as such although we have always been extremely well received wherever we have performed, especially in Trinidad and Miami Carnival. In fact, in 1998, at Miami Carnival, we were second in the "Best Band On The Road" competition.
Yardflex: What is the ultimate goal of Visage?
OBI: There are are numerous goals that we have but I guess if there has to be an "ultimate", I would say it would be to score a major hit on the Billboard and other international charts with the Bahamian rhythms of junkanoo and rake n' scrape.
Yardflex: Well, having listened to your music, we can definitely say that we are looking forward to your shake-up of the Billboard Chart. We wish you all the best.
OBI: Thank you