In The Mix of Things

GOOD FRIENDS: Kees Dieffenthaller, from left, Jason “GBM Nutron” Carter and Neel “Dwala” Dhorajiwala bounce up on Bacchanal Road and share a laugh in the midst of the action. — Photo: Nigel Telesford

Neel Dhorajiwala has been writing a wide range of music and creating audio for over 15 years. He has produced work for a variety of international clients, including Apple Music, Nickelodeon, BBC, Sony, Nintendo, Puma, Honda, and Samsung, as well as extensive work in audio post-production for award-winning feature films.

Dhorajiwala has produced and composed a large variety of music after working with greats, such as: Jazzie B / Soul II Soul, Gilles Peterson, and Abram Wilson.

More recently, he has been producing music under the moniker “Dwala” for numerous Caribbean artistes, including: Sean Paul, Beenie Man, Popcaan, Konshens, Kes The Band, Keznamdi, and Sizzla Kalonji.

Dhorajiwala is also involved with music education, working with the Rockschool Musical Education board writing examination books published in 26 countries worldwide.

Furthermore, he is honoured to be on the advisory board of the Abram Wilson Foundation, helping young people and talented artistes discover and express their greatness through performing arts projects.

Last year, Dhorajiwala began working closely with underground music giants, Boiler Room – producing their weekly “Beats1” radio show broadcast exclusively via Apple Music to millions of followers, as well as producing music for the new Martin Lawrence comedy special on the Showtime Network (USA).

We put Dhorajiwala in “The Hot Seat” as he prepared to release his latest contribution to the music industry – a Pop-savvy smash entitled “Riddim of Life” and featuring Kes The Band and GMB Nutron exclusively.

NT: Greeting bro, thanks for doing this. Firstly, tell us, how did you end up in Trinidad and when/ how did you meet Kees?

ND: Well, I’ve been coming here on vacation since 2005 when I experienced my first Carnival – I fell in love with the place pretty much instantly and vowed to return.

In 2012, I embarked on what turned out to be the trip of a lifetime: from Miami, Florida travelling by yacht through the Caribbean – past The Bahamas through the Exumas down to Turks and across to Puerto Rico.

Then we came through the BVIs, down past Dominica to St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines and ending up in Trinidad three months later! I actually linked up with Kees in March 2013 at a waterfall in Blanchisseuse… I had been introduced to producer “1st Klase” (Klase Gonzales) the night before and we connected immediately – he told me he was going to a waterfall at 6 a.m. the following morning with some friends, one of who is a singer… and that turned out to be Kees (Dieffenthaller)! Almost four years (and many adventures) later, we’ve created some amazing music together and become great friends.

NT: Wow, that’s quite a story and clearly, you live a very exciting life. What then, are your thoughts on soca music as a professional producer who has heard and experienced and created music all over the globe?

ND: I love the groove of soca; the rhythmic feel; the storytelling, the double entendres… the general feel-good factor! A good soca song is undeniable – you have to end up moving some part of your body for sure and you’re insides start smiling! I’ve been lucky enough to see first-hand how the genre has evolved over the last four years: some really interesting sounds are being made now, with some great songs included and a lot more value and emphasis is being placed on the overall sound and production…

Anyone who knows me knows that I can go on and on and on about the importance of sonic quality, so I think this is a great realisation.

As a genre, I love the influence it’s having on mainstream commercial pop music currently and it’s clear that a lot of what’s happening in that genre morphed with EDM / Tropical House is definitely drawing from the rhythmic feel of soca.

So, in short, it’s great and the potential is tremendous!

NT: OK, that’s good news! So how did the current release / riddim project come about between yourself, Kees, and Nutron?

ND: Well, the original music was written / produced at the end 2014.

I have always admired Nutron’s song-writing and vibe, but I didn’t know him personally. Again, it was 1st Klase (large up yourself My Lord!) who suggested he send some music to Nutron to vibe – and this was one of the beats I sent him… He vibed it for a while and came back with the song “1 Blood 1 Love”. Then, when he told me that he’s looking to release an album himself, it seemed like a no-brainer to have this as a Nutron song.

Kees and I had been listening to the instrumental since then as well and ended up getting lost in the music – enter song-writer extraordinaire, Darryl Gervais.

Kees played me “Wine Up” and kept telling me about the guy who wrote it (Gervais), saying I need to link with him, so he set up the meeting by me and I played him a bunch of stuff: hip hop, r&b, jazz, soca, dancehall, reggae, etc., but as soon as I played the Riddim of Life, he immediately held onto it and start humming a melody, which eventually became the chorus for “Til The Morning”.

So then, I found myself in the extremely fortunate position of having two amazing songs by two incredible artistes on one piece of music… and so the riddim was complete!

NT: Incredible stuff man. So, what are you working on next and what is your ideal goal / aspiration for the latest release?

ND: Well, I’ve actually been quite busy. Let me give you the list of my 2017 projects:

We just dropped a video today with UK artiste dancehall artiste, “K More” called ‘Bicycle’ (check it out on YouTube!)

There’s a Sean Paul single I’ve produced with 1st Klase called “Pounds” that should be out by summer 2017

My last release, The Grape Riddim was just placed on a House of Marley commercial

For Summer 2017, I have a riddim releasing called “Zadie”, which features Beenie Man among others, but he has already recorded his tune – “One More Wine”, and it’s fiyah !!

I recorded a single with Jamaican reggae artiste, Keznamdi entitled “Gone” that we’re looking to release soon.

I’m developing a new secret project called GvThx and also developing new music with British Grime artiste, “Hardy Caprio”, watch out for him.

As far my aspirations / goal for the riddim of life: I really want the people to hold onto it and give it love both here in Trinidad and internationally.

The sound of the riddim lends itself to international markets, yet the root of it for me stems from Trinidad Carnival. It would be awesome to have this riddim get recognition and love both here and abroad to spread the good vibes of soca music.

Not too long ago, a red rasta, singer-man from Trinidad tell me that once you have love from the people you winning already – so I’m all for that W!