“It’s just a matter of me knowing where I want to be in my musical career”–Lashley Wendell Winter
The argument can be made that Dennery Segment is one of the most beloved genres of music in the Caribbean. One name that is sure to come up in the genre which has become such a widespread phenomenon, is ‘Motto.’
Lashley Wendell Winter, as he’s formally known, from Grace, Vieux Fort, has more than seven years in the music production business, and has been a performance artiste for about four years. He’s the mastermind behind massive hits like Bend Down, Guttah, Shell Dong, Party Lit and much more — either as producer or songwriter. His brand has crossed borders, not only regionally, but to the U.K. and the U.S. as well.
Undoubtedly, that’s a lot to achieve at 23 years of age, not to mention a lot to boast about. Yet, he carries this sense of calm with him. It’d be hard to see him without our flag dangling from his pants pocket — at all times too. Here’s how Dazzle Magazine’s candid conversation with the Dennery Segment superstar went…
For our readers, give us a brief background on who you are.
Lashley: Well they call me Motto (lol). It all started when I left St. Lucia in 2009 before I graduated from the Vieux Fort Comprehensive Secondary School. I migrated to the U.S. where I furthered my studies at the Boys and Girls High School in Brooklyn, New York. I then went to Monroe College (to earn my Associates Degree in I.T.), and Barton College in North Carolina. There I earned my BA in Mass Communications. At all of my schools and colleges I was really into long distance running, until I got injured and decided not to pursue it further during my senior year in Barton. But I always liked music, even though no one in my family was into it. Somehow, I got into it and started off by producing beats and sending them out to local artistes back in St Lucia. That’s how many “local” songs from the early days of dennery segment was made possible. Classic local songs like “Pork Sauce”, ‘One Drop Talon’ and ‘Shak Shak’, just to name a few was all was produced by me.
Do you prefer being an artiste or a producer, and why?
Lashley: I’d say performing; being an artiste. It’s all about the vibe that it brings. I definitely enjoy putting stuff together behind the scenes to make a great sounding beat. But there’s more life to it when you perform and you see thousands of people jamming to the song and giving a live reaction. Of course, I’m a very crazy performer. I love doing things that people would not expect, to make them laugh. So when you hear ‘Motto’ people already know he’s “the crazy one”.
How would you describe your production style and do you feel like you have a recognisable brand?
Lashley: Yes! (lol). The type of music I produce is Dennery Segment, previously called Kuduro. Before Kuduro we called it Local Music. But when talking about the elements of Dennery Segment, it’s, very unique and has nothing lower than 130 bpm (beats per minute). It consists of heavy drums, kicks and snares, a conga drum and lead instrument. So it’s different fromregularsoca music, which has much more melody and chords. Dennery Segment is RAW andgets straight to the point, it’s not meant to be deep and thought provoking.
What’s the most successful production you’ve done and how did it come about?
Lashley: I’ve worked with the artists throughout the Caribbean. Speaking of names likeMr Legz, Problem Child, Hypa 4000, Lavaman, Loose Canon, Machel Montano and more. But the most successful one is the ‘PIM PIM Riddim,’ featuring Machel Montano, Skinny Fabulous, Lyrikal and then myself with the song ‘Party Lit.’ I’d say that is the most successful in regards to how it branded Dennery Segment for the rest of the region to see that this is what St. Lucia produces. Also, the fact that a powerful performer like Machel Montano is on the beat makes people want to know more about the new genre, more about St Lucia as an island too.
PIM PIM Riddim came about from the ‘Force It’ Riddim. On the latter, I got Problem Child, Mr. Legz, Patrice Roberts, Lavaman and Hypa 4000 among others. Skinny Fabulous was supposed to be on it as well but it didn’t work out initially. That being the case, I did an entirely new riddim for him to be on because he did send me vocals for the Force It Riddim. Also, since he (Skinny Fabulous) writes for Machel Montano he figured that Machel would really love the “island” sound of this riddim. So while we were both trying to find a sound for him, I ended up writing ‘Party Lit’ and he wrote ‘Showtime.’ We submitted both of them to Machel and he chose ‘Showtime.’ Obviously I ended up going with Party Lit as my own song.
You’ve worked with so many artistes across the region. How do you represent St. Lucia in your music?
Lashley: Ha, the Kwéyòl! Even though it’s gotten a bit of backlash, it’s what makes our music unique. So now that our music is on the market, everybody wants more of what we have to offer. Even when I use Kwéyòlin my songs I structure it and plan where I use it carefully so that everyone could enjoy and relate to the song. Lyrically, that’s how I represent my island. All my songs have creole in it.
Satisfying the general public can be tough. How do you respond to criticisms?
Lashley: Oh, I love the critics, they’re my best friend! I don’t let any criticism affect me no way whatsoever. At the end of the day, an artist is an artist. Whatever art you create, you have to stick to it because that’s what’s authentic to you. People will adapt. There will always be someone who’s going to criticise and not appreciate what you’re going for. Of course, you should always work on improving your art … like if you’re a songwriter you should improve your lyrical content as you grow. But for me, I don’t take criticism to mind at all. Every critic is good critic.
How do you maintain your relevance in an ever-changing music industry?
Lashley: Promotion. Marketing is important, having a consistent presence in the media and the public … but especially social media, which is a very powerful platform. Since I’m the type of artist who loves entertaining, I’d put up the content that people would want to interact with.
In terms of my relevance in music, there’s a formula. You have to look at what the new generation likes and what’s trending. With ‘Party Lit,’ Caribbean people rarely used the word “LIT” because it’s an American term. Being in the U.S., I had the advantage of hearing it first-hand and applying it to something that St. Lucians could relate to. By the time the Caribbean adopted the phrase, the song was released, not too late and not too early, and it was a success. It’s just about staying grounded and knowing what the people want to hear. It helps to imagine yourself in a party and thinking of what people would want to sing while they’re enjoying themselves. Example, “Yo di party was lit “is a common phrase, so I just made a song out of it.
You’ve achieved this much in the past, where do you see yourself in the near future?
Lashley: Ultimately, I want to create a fusion with both a St. Lucian and an American vibe, vibe in the terms of music. A genrewhere both cultures could come together and music can speak clearly to everyone – I want to penetrate that American market, this is my biggest goal as of right now. Without growth I won’t be able to achieve that. Also, me being in the U.S. was the best thing that could happen to me because there I experienced many different things, failures included, and that helped me grow too.
Having achieved so much, Motto is now planning on pursuing even bigger ambitions. Dazzle Magazine wishes him the best in attaining those goals!