The Knockturnal caught up with “Bazodee” cast and crew in Times Square’s Playstation Theater for the U.S. Premiere.
MACHEL MONTANO (King of Soca music in his feature film debut), STAZ NAIR (Actor, Game of Thrones), VALMIKE RAMPERSAD (Actor, The Cost of Love), NATALIE PERERA (actor), ELIZABETH “LADY” MONTANO (Executive Producer), CLAIRE INCE (Writer/Producer), ANCIL MCKAIN (Producer), SUSANNE BOHNET(Producer and Distributor), ANGELA HUNTE (American-Trinidadian Singer/Songwriter), LYRIKAL (American-Trinidadian Musician),SKINNY FABULOUS (Soca Artist), JILLIONAIRE (Trinidadian DJ), SOUNDS 4 LYFE (Trinidadian DJ), and MILO MYLES (Trinidadian DJ) were all in attendance.
How does it feel for your first feature film to be here now, with so many faces here to help you guys celebrate?
Claire Ince: It’s surreal. You know, we made this movie; we were inspired by Machel’s music to start on this journey. And for us to be here right now it’s a little bit surreal. You know, a Times Square premiere with so many Caribbean people who’ve come to support the film. We are very elated right now. It’s an exciting moment.
Ancil McKain: Pretty much the same. It’s a lot for me. So much flashing lights and all that, but it’s good. It’s going to be fun, I think that everyone is going to really like the movie, and that’s what’s important.
Can you tell me a little bit about the conception of the movie, how it all came together?
Claire Ince: So, we always wanted to make a movie that was a musical, entertaining, and that sort of captured the spirit of the Caribbean in terms of the resourcefulness, the music. And so, we were inspired by Machel Montano’s music, so we approached him that was the first step. And then I started to write it, thinking of songs that I could use from his catalog to tell this story. And I wanted it to be a universal story that people could relate to, and that’s why we chose a love story. And also the music is just music of love. So I wrote the script, and it does have a history. It won the Bahamas Film Festival – Screenwriting program, and from there we wanted to get folks on board to invest in the film. And that’s another thing, this is a completely Caribbean project, financed by Trinidad and Tobago. And that was the process in terms of the struggle to get it financed and finally made. Through that too, we attracted Todd Kessler, director from the US in order to, because we really wanted it to be a global film, so we wanted to attract the international talent.
Best songs from the film?
Ancil McKain: I think, “I Forget”, which is a new one, a new song. So people are going to hear it for the first time, actually the video got released like a week ago. But it’s quite an amazing song. I remember that night, it was the final night of filming, we heard the whole sequence of “I Forget”, and it was just amazing. People were just standing in the street, just like in awe, like this is such an amazing song. That’s one memory that really sticks with me, we had such rich memories from the entire production but that’s one that stands out. But my pick would be “I Forget”. But I’m an old Machel fan, so I really like “No War”, that’s also in the movie as well.
Claire Ince: So my favorite is “Mesmerize”. Part of the fun in doing this movie was, you know, well you like the music, but also seeing the music re-imagined in different ways. And if you are familiar with Machel’s work, when you hear some of the songs, you’ll see how he was able to develop them for the film. You’ll also hear since it’s a musical, our lead Natalie Perera is singing. So it’s a really interesting experience to hear the music in different ways.
Singer/songwriter Angela Hunte, who features on the films soundtrack also shares her excitement on sharing her culture.
Angela, what brings you out tonight?
Angela Hunte: I’m here to support my boy. Machel Montano, in his first feature film, Bazodee, I’m so excited for our culture. I’m so excited for people to see him in this light, to see him for more than what he is; he is an entertainer, but he is an all-around entertainer, he is a triple threat, he can do it all. To see it here in America, to be here on 42nd street, and watching all these people that have come out to support him. I’m honored to be a part of the soundtrack. For him to enlist me to be a part of this movie, this is just really exciting.
How did being a part of the soundtrack come about?
Angela Hunte: I mean, right now we just have this chemistry that’s awesome. He’s like ‘Angela hey, can we use the songs on the soundtrack’, and I’m like ‘yes, and more yes’. Everybody knows I always say yes and more yes, once it’s a good thing, and it was definitely a good thing. This is about love and it’s a love story, and he carefully took his time with the soundtrack, he worked really hard to make sure to bring our music to the forefront. You know, because this is a feature film, this is a big deal; this isn’t a video, this is something that is totally different and he tackled it really, really well. And I’m excited for everybody to see it tonight, to hear the music, to bring our music closer to these shores, to show people that you know, Carnival is love, this is what it’s about. And I think everybody is starting to get that message and you’re going to see today, Bazodee.
What would you like for the people who aren’t familiar to receive as far as the culture, that feeling, you know Carnival?
Angela Hunte: You know, I think bringing it closer just being true to who we are. And doing what we want to do, and mixing it up with mainstream music, and reaching out to more pop artists, bringing them in. Once you’re in Soca music, you’re in. You’re going to be addicted and you’re going to love it. I think its easy, it’s being who we are, it’s performing more places so people can see us more, and that’s what’s happening. When you hear what’s happening on the charts today, cultured music is a huge part of the Top 40 music today, more than we’ve ever seen. So right now is the time to reach out and show everybody what we are about. I think people are curious, and the more curious they are, the more we’re going to get them to come in. They want to come in, and we’re saying ‘come in’; you will enjoy yourself. We are celebratory people, our music is celebratory music and right now we need that. Like, the world needs that, states need that, countries need that, cities need that. I think right now, people are shifting away from the regular, and they want more. They are experimenting more with music, and we are here, come on in.
Do you have any personal projects going on right now?
Angela Hunte: Yes, oh my God! Actually, today I went to Spotify, I had a meeting and was just full of tears. I didn’t know so many people in the world were just reaching out to me, listening to me and I’m just so excited to bring them this album, finally. I’ve actually cut down my tour schedule to work on this album for the last four months. I am generally a very shy and very closed person. I’ve opened my heart and I cannot wait for people to just, love it, hate it, just evoke some sort of emotion. People have been waiting to see this, waiting to see more music from me, and people have been waiting to see me on the stage with my own band doing my own thing and I’m so excited to do that. Machel has been so instrumental in my career and helping me figure out.
The film hits theaters this Friday!