Kevin Lyttle After his huge breakthrough single “Turn Me On”, Kevin turned the club world inside out! This Soca artist helped break crossover ground with the biggest Soca song since “Who Let the Dogs Out”. Now with a new single, a new sound and a new album underway, Kevin is back with his collab with Flo-Rida and already making noise. Check out this exclusive interview.
interview by Rob Schwartz
WHO?MAG: Tell me about the new record you are working on? Kevin Lyttle: The new record isn’t really new because I have an indy label called Tarragon Records with distribution over in Japan. I put it out over there. I just changed up the track listing for the American release. The release in the US is going to be different because I am trying to exercise my international muscles right now. I got exposure all over the world from my first album and my stuff is pretty much across the board. Right now I am working the countries one market at a time.
WHO?MAG: Tell me about the new single “Anywhere”. Kevin Lyttle: The new single was produced my The Haterz who did “Party like a Rockstar”. I changed management. Right now I am managing myself more than anything else. I got a team of people working with me including a marketing director in Miami. I also got a personal assistant. These people are taking me in a different direction. My marketing director got me with E Class and with Po’Boy with Flo Rida. He’s has been able to get me into a different circle which I wasn’t in before based off of my management. I am being more present in people’s faces. I am currently working with Shaggy and Pitbull plus did something we are working on getting Sean Paul on right now. We are doing it up right now.
WHO?MAG: How did you hook up with Flo Rida? Kevin Lyttle: That was straight through Bebe at Circle House Studios in Miami. He knows everybody. I known him for a while before I left my previous management. Since he runs the studio down there, everybody has been coming through the studio. Put it this way, if you come to Miami and you do not know Bebe Lewis, then you do not know what’s going on. He is the man that has all of this stuff popping and introduced me to all of these people.
WHO?MAG: Let’s take it back a second. Tell me about the single “Turn Me On”. Kevin Lyttle: Turn me on was my coming out track. That was the track that brought me to the world. Originally I am from St. Vincent and that is where I recorded that track with producer Asian Berry. The song itself was an interpretation from a 112 track from the album with peaches & Cream. I really liked that group and I always loved R&B music. Being in the Caribbean, it’s an artists dream to make it worldwide no matter what part of the world you are from. We in the Caribbean sometimes take other artists songs and switch them up and creating hit songs in the Caribbean region. I decided I was going to try this because we all out here are trying to make a hit and get some money so we can eat something. I came up with the idea and gave it to the producer and the rest was a movie. The song just blew up and blew me up and at one point the song was so big that I was running around trying to catch up with it. When I went to the Grammy’s people didn’t believe I was this small guy from St. Vincent. Everyone thought I was from Jamaica or Trinidad & Tobago or American. That song brought me into the world and gives me the opportunity to continue to make music.
WHO?MAG: Why do you think it took so long to crossover to mainstream since the song has already been out for about two-three years before it hit? Kevin Lyttle: The truth is that Caribbean music has always had a hard time going through the ranks and making it to America especially because Europe and other markets across the border are more open to outside influences when music is concerned. American markets are more closed and very focused on their artists more. You really have to come strong to break into the American market. You can’t just come in and talk some language they do not understand. What I did was since the record was so diverse in it’s appeal, it was able to grow on people, not only in the Caribbean, but also across the world. Then it started charting in different countries and I was right there to represent the record. When people call me, I would make sure I was right there to perform and make sure that my face was seen repping my record. So unlike other artists from the Caribbean who may have a song playing in another market pushing their record, I was there. I was finally about to land a big show in 2003 with 50 Cent in Rhode Island. That concert had about 30,000 people. That was the first time I seen a crown like that in my whole life. I was scared to perform, but the minute I hit the first note, it was over. The crowd began singing every word. As an artist, I had the same response as 50. All of the labels started calling form then on.
WHO?MAG: Tell me about the Alison Hinds remix. Kevin Lyttle: That was done in Trinidad and Tobago in 2001 when the song first came out. It was recorded as I was getting prepared for the Carnival, which was happening in January and February 2002. The song was released in 2001 in the summer my country because that’s when my carnival is. It played island to island until it got placed in Trinidad. Once your song reaches Trinidad, especially for Soca music, that’s where the song gets international exposure. If it’s in Trinidad, the rest of the world will know about it.
WHO?MAG: How do you feel about the current state of Soca? Kevin Lyttle: The Caribbean music game is almost like a rat race to a certain extent. There is always some type of obstacle because in the Caribbean, there are a lot of religious factors involved as well as a lot of arguments by people in different societies on the little islands because the societies are so small. Sometimes the music doesn’t get played because the songs are to slacker. They even said my songs are to slacker because they aren’t Christian songs. I am a believer in God but that is something that Caribbean artists need to overcome. There are a lot of obstacles from religion and from the mentality where everyone is pushing and pulling against each other in the Caribbean. Even if you check it out in Dancehall, you have everyone saying bad things about the other. It’s also very similar in rap music but it’s not as aggressive as in the Caribbean. It’s a whole other level. Things like that will make or break you in the Caribbean.
WHO?MAG: Tell me about your new label Tarragon Records. Kevin Lyttle: The word Tarragon is the neuri word for Dragon. It’s a New Zealand language. I was born in the year of the Dragon so I decided to call my label Tarragon Records. It’s just my brainchild for all of my business right now. As soon as I start making some gwap from the label I will begin helping other artists from the Caribbean. There is really no label down there that’s helping push the current to the level that it needs to be.
WHO?MAG: Tell me about the single “Fire”. Kevin Lyttle: It was produced by The Red Boys form Barbados. It’s a song that is very sensual and very sexy. The video is the same way. The song was the first single for Japan. I don’t think it will be the first single here in America. There is also a remix on the beat that Estelle had her hit on. People are loving the remix to Fire on that beat. Originally before Estelle has had her song on that beat, the remix originally existed in 2007 carnival going into 2008. It was done and I didn’t even know because I was just putting out my song and just promoting it internationally. I didn’t know it was hitting in my country until I got back in December 2008 so by then, Estelle already had it on that beat and I didn’t know. It’s all about the promotion.
WHO?MAG: What’s next for Kevin Lyttle? Kevin Lyttle: Just making this next album big. Right now just trying to make it the biggest thing in America. I am an artist who is extremely versatile. I can work with almost any style of music. My current album has hip-hop, it has Soca, it has R&B and it has dancehall. And it has reggae like that Gwen Stefani track with Lady Saw. It has that same type of feel. I also just did something with Get Fresh and with the Diaz Brothers down here in Florida that features the kid Gravy that was featured in the Notorious movie playing Biggie Smalls. I have a lot of little surprises in the bag. The album is going to be crazy.