Soca artiste Kevin Lyttle, who ended his association with Atlantic Records a few years ago, recently released an album under his very own label Tarakon Records. The album, which is only available in Japan at present, is entitled Fyah.
“The new album was done for my label Tarakon Records and it is being distributed in Japan by Universal Japan. I’m getting more into the business aspect of the music industry and I am not really looking for recording deals. I am more focused on getting distribution deals where I can make more money from a CD,” Lyttle said in a recent interview at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston.
Lyttle, who was in the island to attend the funeral of Carlton ‘Carlyle’ Grant Jr, the son of his music colleague Spragga Benz (they both collaborated on the hit singles Turn Me On and Last Drop), said he was working on getting the album released in the Caribbean, North America and in other parts of the world.
Fyah, which features collaborations with Spragga Benz and dancehall artiste Lexxus, has already scored a chart topper with the title track, which currently occupies pole position on the national pop charts in Japan. “The song is number one in Japan and I am really excited about that. We put a lot of hard work into the project and I feel confident that the fans are going to like it,” Lyttle confided.
Originally from St Vincent and the Grenadines, Lyttle currently resides between that Caribbean island and the United States. “I live back and forth between the United States and St Vincent. A lot of the islands have accepted me and my music; I guess you could say I have multiple residence status in the islands,” Lyttle said jokingly.
Asked about the parting of ways with Atlantic Records, Lyttle said it had to do with economics. The label released his self-titled album in 2004 and it sold gold in the US worldwide sales, according to Lyttle, were in excess of 2.5 million copies.
“The music business is a strange thing. The problem with me and Atlantic Records was basically a money thing. They didn’t make the amount of money they wanted to make and they got confused as to what they were doing with the project and began focusing on different artistes, while my stuff was suffering. By the time the label was breaking up with me, I had already sold 2.5 million records worldwide,” Lyttle explained.
He added, “I basically opted out of the deal and took the money for the second album, because that was part of the contractual agreement, and moved forward and begin to do my own thing. I have been recording songs for the past three years and I have been performing all over the world.”
At the height of his career, Lyttle topped the charts in more than eight countries around the world with the inescapable jam Turn Me On, a song that was recorded in a small studio in St Vincent. It became one of the biggest soca hits to have emerged from the Caribbean in more than 20 years. He later followed up with Last Drop, which was a hit in Europe. Both songs featured dancehall artiste Spragga Benz.
At the age of seven, Lescott Kevin Lyttle was first inspired by music while sitting on his mother’s shoulders watching local Calypsonians competing for the title of Road March King in the annual St Vincent Carnival. He wrote his first original song at age 14, and participated in song competitions and cultural exchange programmes, representing St Vincent throughout the Caribbean.
“Shower Me With Your Love by Surface was the first song I ever performed onstage. I was so nervous that I switched the verses around, but the girls were carrying on too much for anyone to notice. I worked for years, practising my vocals and coaching myself from books to improve my range, trying to sing more like Michael Jackson or Stevie Wonder. I wanted to be able to represent myself onstage on that level,” Lyttle reminisced.
While working a variety of day jobs, Lyttle cut his first professional record without success. In 2001, he brought two songs to local producer Adrian Bailey, one of which was Turn Me On. The session itself was deceptively easy. “It was done in two takes, less than an hour,” said Lyttle.
After a tremendous response at the St Vincent Carnival, Turn Me On spread by radio and club play to neighbouring Caribbean islands. The song would eventually spread over into the US and open the doors for Lyttle’s signing with Atlantic Records.