Photo courtesy of Sherwinn “Dupes” Brice.
Sometimes there’s a man who for all of his career has been in the background, providing beats for those that can count on him. And then there’s the man who one day decides to not only make the beats but to sing over them, to take matters into his own hands and to be the face of his music.
Of course, that latter man would be none other than Sherwinn “Dupes” Brice of the Caribbean island of St. Lucia. Dupes is originally from the island, moved to Connecticut with his family for eight years of his adolescence, found himself in New York, and moved back to the Caribbean where he has raised a family and started a career with Dupes Did It Music Publishing.
As he explains it, Caribbean people are always working even though one would think it’s all relaxation time for them. BTR was able to speak with Dupes as he was going back and forth from his home and studio.
In explaining what “island living” is really like, Dupes describes, “fresh fruits throughout the year, good breeze, always access to the beach,” which is something that we could all use or at least imagine whilst reading this.
He describes the “pace” with which the island works that he managed to shed in his brief time living in the States. Now that he’s back living in St. Lucia with his family, he works at a “fast pace” from having spent time in the tri-state area and the breakneck pace of life. This momentum carried over to his productivity as a producer, songwriter, and owner of a publishing company. His apparent reputation around St. Lucia is, “Dupes is always on it. He’s always got a track out, always working on a video, always doing something crazy.”
“You know that island people have this crazy work ethic. It might be just a little laid back because they’re like, ‘Relax, man’ but nah, they know what they’re about and we St. Lucians are hard workers. We know what we’re about and we get the music done,” says Brice, who could make a St. Lucia tourism commercial out of this.
Right now in St. Lucia, he says the music industry is “developing” as there are a lot of radio stations and “there’s always places for our music to go.” Musicians in St. Lucia are trying to get their government to recognize that “music can be a part of the income,” and this push is already going underway with a sect of the government called the Creative Industry.
Brice says, “That was a big move for us that we actually have some set of legislature that represents us as musicians and is working on putting programs together to fund what we’re working on.”
Brice hopes that for the future this sect will raise awareness in the government of what musicians are doing, better pay for union musicians, help with transporting imported equipment across borders, as well as just better funding for studios, music videos, and music schools.
Dupes’ career got started “over five to eight years ago” as a producer and songwriter for “other artists, I was always a champion for people who wanted to get their stuff out there.” His decision to go forth with a solo project came from a meeting with his management, as they felt that he had what it takes to take his stardom to the “international level.” He and they figured that since he’s already on so many Caribbean musicians’ tracks anyway, he should start developing his own entity as a solo artist. What Dupes’ niche was “alternative things in music” like R&B pop and reggae that was able to mesh with the “international flavor.” He looks to August 24th of this year as the first anniversary of “taking this to the next level.”
One of Dupes’ most prized attributes in his music is the diversity of styles he can play and record, as well as the styles that he grew up listening to. Since he was born in St. Thomas then moved to Connecticut and New York and Pennsylvania, he has a wide variety of styles to pick from. He’s not even just the exception to the Caribbean rule with this as he says that the second most popular style on the islands besides soca and calypso is Country and Western. His reason for this is that when Caribbean people were coming back from their time in the States, they were bringing back country music with them. It’s a speculative narrative as Dupes himself has “gone so far out to ask my dad and grandfather and all these people.” With his own music, he exhibits a range of moods with the few singles he has out from the soulful R&B sounds of “Guilty” to the summertime dance jam, “Your Body”.
“‘Guilty’ is like the closest to the heart of what I love to listen to and do but when you come from a party culture, you have to entertain on this level. This is what people come to the islands to do. They come to party so you have to give them that vibe. It’s two ends of the spectrum. ‘Your Body’ is one end, ‘Guilty’ is the other end and ‘Dip Pon De Floor’ is in the middle,” says Brice.
Dupes’s creative process also ensures that he’s never pigeonholing himself into playing just one style. He only has those aforementioned singles as well as a few others out under his own name, but with those, he has numerous versions such as a cappella and the instrumental version. This is something that is all but lost in today’s modern music climate, as “the single” is becoming more and more rare. Yet Dupes isn’t doing it to be retro but rather to make his music more marketable and thus being a part of that “international flavor” he talks about.
“We try to create as many options as possible for the release of our music because when I moved back to New York for a little while, I used to intern at VP Records. VP is one of the biggest record [labels]. I realized what they used to do in the game was make sure there was enough options out there when you release a single that everybody can play it. When I was growing up, you could buy a single. I wouldn’t buy a single if it didn’t have the song, the instrumental, or the a cappella because I was all about trying to make my own beats. This benefitted me because when I started doing work for television and movie placements, they would always ask me for the a cappella and the instrumental,” says Brice.
Though Dupes’ career is young, he seems to have hit his stride early on how to sustain it; all the while producing his songs with everybody in mind.
Find which Dupes’ version suits you best by clicking here.
Check out Sherwinn “Dupes” Brice’s music and interview on the latest episode of Discovery Corner on BTR.