Jadel honors her Caribbean roots on sophomore album, ‘Don’t Be Mistaken’

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  • Published on March 18, 2024
  • In Culture

The soca artist doesn’t want to be confused for anyone else in the music industry. “I am Jadel and this is my music, my sound, and my style,” she told DETOUR.

If music is a universal language, who are the artists that speak most powerfully to our heart and soul? Whose music offers the perfect soundtrack to adventures we’ve experienced and those that await us? In DETOUR’s TuneDn, we connect with artists – from seasoned vets to up-and-coming talents – about where their work has taken them and where they’re headed, both literally and musically.

This time around, we’re chatting with soca artist Jadel. The Caribbean artist – who is from Trinidad and Tobago and splits her time between the islands and New York City – talks about her musical inspirations, her love for Caribbean culture and music, and her favorite places to travel. She also gives DETOUR a glimpse into the influences and notable collaborations for her upcoming album, “Don’t Be Mistaken.”

What’s your ethnic background?

I am Black, Indian, Spanish, French, and Irish all-in-one, what we refer to in Trinidad as “callaloo.” My mom is Venezuelan and her parents were Black and Indian. My dad is French Creole and Irish.

How has your Caribbean background influenced your music and career as an artist?

Being from the Caribbean, I was influenced by soca and calypso music, but I was also exposed to many other genres like gospel, R&B, pop, reggae, and soul. I write all my songs, so when I’m developing melodies, I tap into a lot of the sounds I grew up on. Growing up in the Caribbean/Trinidad, we play all types of music throughout the year. When I’m building songs, I tend to fuse a lot of sounds into my style. 

How do you incorporate elements of Caribbean culture and music into your songs and performances?

Caribbean culture is very infectious and so is the rhythm, dancing, beats and melody. I try to work with producers that can allow me to be myself, as well as help me tap into areas that I didn’t know I had in me. Also, being a songwriter and an audio engineer, I’m able to create a lot of my music on my own. A lot of my flavor is energetic, party vibes and this shows on stage when I perform. As we say in the Caribbean, there is a lot of  “wining up” happening on stage. I love to see a crowd happy and full of energy.

What challenges have you faced as a female Caribbean artist in the music industry and how have you overcome them?

As a female Caribbean artist, we do get looked over many times. I try to build the strength and armor to keep pushing no matter what adversity comes my way. You can be easily discouraged, distracted, and demotivated by lies, hate, false rumors, and lack of true support, but this motivates me to keep pushing harder. I’ve done and learned everything myself from songwriting, audio engineering, managing, interviews, promoting my own music, outfits, hair and make-up, booking. I’ve had to manage many things myself until I recently found proper international management in 2020. It’s not easy to trust people as a female in the music industry; people can lead you in circles and, even worse, suppress your talents so you can feel you need to depend on others for success. You’ll have dozens of people telling you what you should do, all [of them] contradicting each other. As a female you just have to believe in yourself and wisely take in advice, but I believe I’ve been able to overcome most of the hurdles so far. 

Credit: Jadel
Credit: Jadel

How do you see the representation of female Caribbean artists evolving in the music industry?

Female artists have been representing really well in the Caribbean. Over the years, females have been coming out with great music and I feel we’re trying to become more independent and self-sufficient artists. Building our own following on platforms like YouTube, Instagram and Facebook, trying to build our streaming numbers on Spotify and Apple Music. Others have been doing their own annual concerts like Nadia Batson, Patrice Roberts, Nailah Blackman. I would love to do my own concert someday because I’m always trying to build and improve.

What is a memorable experience or performance that has shaped your perspective as an artist?

What always gives me a memorable experience is when the crowd reacts to my music and sings the words to my song, and I see them from the stage with their hands in the air enjoying my performance. The crowd’s reaction is big with me, that makes me feel like I am doing what I am supposed to be doing in life: giving people joy and happiness, which is an unexplainable and surreal experience. It’s the best feeling ever.

How do you balance maintaining your cultural identity while reaching a global audience with your music?

This can be tricky at times because when I’m building music and tapping into many influences, I go where the melodies send me. I don’t want to just be a soca artist because my styles and interests are so broad and I don’t want to feel limited or placed into a box. As artists we should be free to create what we love. I do keep fans in consideration and try to consistently create music for my core fans, in addition to pulling in new fans with my R&B-soca-dancehall fusion style and ventures. When I do mix it up, I want people to know that it is 100% me.

Where have you traveled to so far? Where was your favorite destination?

I’ve been to Japan, Singapore, Paris, Italy, Greece, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Kotor, England, Belgium, Canada, all over the Caribbean, and Belize. I‘ve toured all over the US as well. I am blessed to be able to tour the world and I am super grateful for these opportunities. Japan would be one of my favorites; I got so much love there. I loved the Japanese dancers who loved my music and they all danced to my songs. I hope to be back soon. 

Where are some must-go-to places in your hometown?

Maracas Beach and DDI [“Down D Islands”]. We have some beautiful waterfalls as well in Trinidad. Also you must go to Tobago; it’s simply beautiful and amazing.

Credit: Jadel

What’s your go-to item to travel?

My headphones. I’m always listening to music and trying to create music. On long flights, I’ll listen to music of the past;  old Mariah Carry or Whitney Houston, and past Caribbean songs for inspiration. 

Are there any hotels or destinations from past travels that we should know about?

There is this hotel in Singapore I stayed at, Marina Bay Sands. I really enjoyed my stay there; it had the most beautiful views of the city and a huge rooftop pool that went to the edge. I also experienced Tomorrowland in Belgium, which is a 3-day music festival. [It was an] amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

What do you love most about traveling?

I love sightseeing and dressing up. I love adventures and, of course, trying different restaurants. I’m a foodie.

What upcoming projects or collaborations can we expect from you?

I’m finishing up my second album, releasing this March. It’s titled “Don’t Be Mistaken.” Inspiration for this title came from noticing some fans and even fellow people within the industry confusing me with other artists in the Caribbean over the years. I’ve had people confuse songs they heard from me with other artists, or confuse other artists [with] me, so this album is like a statement to say, “Please don’t confuse me for anyone else. I am Jadel and this is my music, my sound, and my style.”

This album is actually 3 years in the making and features the song, “Deserve It All” which is an Afro-pop and soca fusion song. This song became a success in Trinidad and South Africa and became the first video I ever had debut on BET. It’s also my most-streamed music video to date with 7 million views. I have a collaboration with the legendary dancehall artist out of Jamaica, Demarco, on the album called, “Shake Up;” a recent collaboration with Charly Black out of Jamaica entitled, “Addictive;” and a collaboration with TV personality and performer Karlie Redd from VH1’s Love & Hip Hop called, “Messy.” Working with Karlie Redd has been really fun. She’s really enthusiastic about getting in touch with her Caribbean roots and representing soca. “Messy” went number one on the iTunes reggae charts. This was my first number one song on any chart, so this was pretty amazing. Other notable songs on this album [are] “Up In D Party,” “Yuh Man,” “Calypso,” and “Doh Ease Meh Up.” I wrote all the songs on this 14-track album with the exception of four. I’ll be promoting this album as I go on my third international tour this year.

Credit: JP Music Group

Also, my first Dancehall song will be releasing soon called “Sidechick Season,” produced by the legendary Christopher Birch out of Birchill Records in Jamaica. He’s produced songs for Vybz Kartel, Konshens, Charly Black, Busy Signal and many others. I’m actually excited about this project because it’s a very fresh style for me. 

Jadel’s sophomore album, “Don’t Be Mistaken,” drops Friday, March 29. Her upcoming single, “Sidechick Season,” debuts in March. Stay TuneDn with Jadel by following her on Instagram and Facebook, and streaming her music on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, and other music streaming services.  

Frances Handy (aka Franie M) is a music marketing and public relations specialist from Staten Island, New York. Music has always been a major influence since interning at Roc Nation, where she assisted on numerous artist marketing projects, brand activations, and PR campaigns. After achieving her BA in Business and Marketing Communication at Berkeley College, she founded public relation and artist branding agency, CGM Publicity.

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