They buzzed me into the building at Legacy Recording Studios and suddenly my heart dropped. Overcome with anxiety, I felt the sudden urge to turn around, to bail, to forget all about it.
ABORT MISSION. They’d know I was a phony as soon as they laid eyes on me. But isn’t that why I came up here in the first place? To be a writer? It’s do or die time. And let’s face it; I’m a good writer, no need to be modest. Be confident. Be cool.
These mental gymnastics, this inner tug-of-war, is normal though, at least to me, and over the years I’ve learned to cope with them. In fact, I’ve grown quite accustomed to it when first approaching an assignment. And as I made my way to the elevator I told myself to pull it together…and be cool.
The elevator doors opened and I walked up to the receptionist’s desk where I was greeted by a lovely young lady in a waiting area filled with others attending the event tonight who I would later find out were other writers, DJs, and club promoters. I straightened my posture, trying to feign professionalism, and told the receptionist my name and that I was with Parle.
She glanced down at a list for a bit, and checked my name off. She smiled, offered me a seat, and went about her business. Sweet, I fooled em. What does a writer look like anyway? There’s no way they’d be able to tell that this was my first assignment. Just be cool.
So I sat down and waited patiently, listening to the others in the room chat and talk amongst themselves. Only after a few minutes, a young dark skinned woman entered the room and introduced herself as Septosa. She invited us to follow her into the studio where the listening would be held.
In a small room just before the studio was a full spread of food and drink, complete with Grey Goose, Patron, and pink tinted liqueurs. Septosta told us to help ourselves before heading in and that we’ll be getting things started shortly, so I made myself a stiff drink and posted up at the back of the studio.
After everyone was settled, three men entered the room. The first two, casually dressed, were his manager and producer. The third was Verse Simmonds. I recognized him from the promo flyers on the seats. He sported dark sunglasses, tight fitting jeans, and an asymmetrical haircut.
He seemed very nonchalant as he entered, confident in his swagger. He introduced himself to us (about 30-40 people in the room), revealing a peculiar island accent. But there was something charming and cool about it, and his confidence and charisma seemed to permeate through his very pores.
But before we listened to the first track of his album, Simmonds reminded us “the more you drink, the better my music will sound.” The room erupted in laughter. This guy was good, he knew how to ham it up a little and work the crowd. The first joint we listened to was “Substitute”, and he explained to us that what he’s trying to say in this song was that if you don’t take care of your lady, he will. Again, the room chuckled at his charm and wit. To describe this song (and this goes for the rest of his music we heard that night), I’d have to say, catchy, high-energy, and with a dash of “islandy” flavor.
The subsequent songs on the album included ones like “Swindle”, “Grindin”, and “Money in my Pocket”, all very catchy tunes that would compliment the ambience of a dance club. They also fit the title of his album quite well, Stories of a Bachelor. And much of the music on his album seemed to be just that, stories of a single, swinging, ladies man. Other such tracks included “It’s your birthday” and “Boomerang”, very high in energy, with the bass pumping and the alcohol flowing, these songs really get you groovin’.
But the track that really stood out to me was one that most of the males in the room dogged him for. It was “I’m Sorry”, a more sentimental track that Simmonds said he’d like to be release on Valentine’s Day. He explained to us that even though the earlier tracks seem to portray a no-holds-barred, take-no-prisoners, playboy bachelor, that sometimes men do make mistakes. At this point one of the club promoters in the first couple rows shouted “Not me!”
Simmonds laughed it off with the rest of the males in the room. Needless to say, the females in the room loved the idea behind this song. It showed a softer, more sensitive side of Verse, showing that there is much more to him than just lady-killin’ and making it rain.
The men booed and gave him a hard time (all in jest, of course). But this particular track really spoke to me. It humanized him. Up until now I thought his music was good and all, something I’d like to hear at the club or on the radio, but this one let me know that he wasn’t just fronting as a smooth operating shark with an ego and a Caribbean accent. This track made him seem more real to me. His honesty and sincerity, despite the playful ridicule from the male population of the room, really helped me see him as a real person with depth and dimension.
After listening to his entire album (11 songs), he realized he hadn’t even played us his single, “Buy you a Round”, which I had heard previously via his myspace. Anyway, he played the track and everybody loved it. The thing about this song is, once you hear it, the chorus really gets stuck in your head. In fact, it’s been looping in my head for quite some time since I left that night.
He then thanked us for coming out, and for listening, and for giving him feedback and such positive energy.
He invited us into the sound studio to view his music video, which I had previously viewed numerous times before I came. So as everyone filed into the room, I quietly ducked out and down the elevator.
(not without sneaking another stiff goose n’ juice)
(I may not be single, or a lady, but I figured Verse wouldn’t mind if I’d get another round)
(corny, I know.)
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: I left the studio with a nice buzz and a catchy tune in my head, quite content and ready to write.