Shawn "Da Ma$tamind" Noel is one of the leading producers in the Soca industry right now, he has produced songs that have won Soca Awards, COTT Awards and spurred artists like Bunji Garlin and Shurwayne Winchester to International Soca Monarch Royalty. I could not think of a better candidate to kick of this round of questions on Soca, the genre, the industry, the culture, the movement.

1. What is your definition of Soca music?
To me Soca music is an eclectic blend of music inspired by the diverse population of Trinidad & Tobago and the West Indies. It’s very rhythmic, very energetic and has a lot of our soul in it. Soca is just who we are…

2. Most people associate Soca with Trinidad, much like Reggae to Jamaica; is Trinidad the authority on Soca?
I don’t see Trinidad & Tobago as the authority on Soca. While it may have been born out of Calypso, a music known to be indigenous to T&T, I think it has evolved quite a lot into a music that now represents the entire region. From country to country there is a wide variety of styles within Soca music, and we are all now influenced by each others’ music. So to say T&T is the authority… I disagree.

3. Some say Soca is just for Carnival, what say you?
Can I say “Bull^#%$”? Because that is my very honest opinion. Apart from Christmas music, to my knowledge, Soca is the only music that is confined to that couple months of the year. As a result the majority of Soca music is tailored around that season. But I believe so much more can be done, so many different topics to sig about, so much more music that can be created for outside the Carnival season. Which is why Mastamind Productions produces and releases music all year ‘round.

4. How has being a Soca artist enriched your life?
I love to entertain and I’ve always loved to see people enjoy themselves. So when that happens, that is the most fulfilling part of it. I’m just a sucker for people smiling, being happy and enjoying themselves. I’m just glad to be able to entertain and help make that happen.

5. Where have you not been for Carnival that you would like to visit in the next five years?
Believe it or not I’ve not yet been to Notting Hill Carnival. I’d really love to go. But, I think my ultimate Carnival destination is Rio de Janeiro in Brazil! If I had to pick one… Viva Brasil!!!

6. What does Soca need to get international recognition that regional genres like Reggae and Reggaeton do?
It goes back again to the fact that Soca music is so seasonal. If you look at Reggae for instance, the topics are varied. They sing about a host of different topics and ideas that people worldwide can relate to. Apart from that, we don’t really treat our own music with the love and respect it deserves. I will go to my grave with the belief that our music is sorely under-appreciated and only until that changes will we be able to make any moves forward. We also need to learn to be more professional about our approach to the business side of music. There’s quite a lot to be done; hopefully one day these wrongs can be righted.

Well now since you made it to the HERE to learn more about Shawn and read his responses to our 20 Questions.

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