Devere ILL Blaze Birch, a talented Barbadian Soca artiste, has been gaining recognition and making a name for himself in the music industry. After spending three years in Guyana, he returned to Barbados in November 2020 and released his first album, Soca Frenzy, which gained thousands of streams on streaming platforms.
Since then, ILL Blaze has continued to produce hit after hit, releasing albums on the 1st of January every year. In 2022, he released Fete Mode, featuring international sensation Father Philis, and on January 1st, 2023, he released Extreme Soca, further cementing his status as a rising star in the Soca music scene.
Aside from his success as a musician, ILL Blaze has also started his own company, Blaze It Up Records Music Studio and Media Productions. This company offers a variety of services, including graphic design, music and video production, and assistance with music distribution, helping other artists get paid for their hard work.
As a father of one, ILL Blaze is dedicated to providing for his family and making a name for himself in the music industry. He has already achieved so much in his career, and his talent and passion for Soca music continue to drive him forward.
Looking to the future, ILL Blaze is preparing for a tour starting in June 2023, where he will perform in Canada and Guyana, sharing his music with fans around the world. Those interested in hearing his music can visit his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/illblazemusic or follow him on www.instagram.com/ILL_Blaze
CEM got the chance to speak ILL Blaze
How did your time in Guyana influence your music and career as a Soca artist?
When I first visited Guyana I had no idea what to expect, my good friend who is a popular musician Murphy Warde aka Invasion One Man Band who is also the God Father of my son took me around to all of his events he got booked for to teach me the ropes of the music industry in Guyana.
He said in order for me to have a successful music career I have to give the people what they want which is party music since the region we are in is considered the Caribbean that is the type of music I should deliver, Caribbean music, at the time I was heavily involved in rap music.
I started recording soca music and released a few songs in Guyana, performed at some events and before the year was out I was performing all over Guyana, I was surprised to see how fast I blew up in less than a year with out any struggle at all.
Can you tell us about your creative process when it comes to producing and writing your music?
In the process of creating music I stay focused on the energy, I like my instrumentals to be very interactive with the movement of the crowd and so as my lyrics, normally I make an instrumental and then write to it after I normally write and record same time because it's that easy for me I've been involved in music since I was 14 so it became second nature to me.
What inspired you to start your own record label and offer services such as graphic designing and music distribution?
What inspired me to start my own label was after meeting a man called Mathew aka M-Eighty, he is an international Artiste Manager he also works as an A&R agent, he spoke to me about to roles of a manager which I learned that a lot of persons in Barbados have the wrong idea of a manager and I wouldn't need one at this present moment of my career, he also spoke to me about how record deals work and it's best to be independent, because being signed to a record label is not an easy task as he explained why.
I have been studying the business side of music since I was 18 and I learned that I needed to learn different skills that would not only benefit my music career but also cut the cost in advertising so that is why I decided to put all of my skill sets together to form my own company, I'm a qualified graphics artist, I learned about sound engineering and music production from being around other producers, an old friend of mine from Pitsburg USA taught me how to build websites and I furthered my video production skills at the Ministry Of Youth here in Barbados.
After a whole year of working on becoming a paid artist and learning how it works is when I decided to assist other artiste who come to my studio so they can get paid from music distribution just like I do.
Can you share with us some of the challenges you faced while starting your own company in the music industry?
The challenges I face in Barbados is the fact that I'm not as popular here like I am in other countries, on the 5th of March I was scrolling through Google after searching my name to see that I was featured in a magazine in Nigeria and I was very surprised, I don't get that type of attention in Barbados but I made peace with it so I don't let it bother me.
What can fans expect from your upcoming tour in Canada and Guyana, and how do you prepare for live performances?
When I start touring in Canada just like in Guyana fans can expect an energetic and hype performance from me, I normally get prepared for all my performances by hanging out with the DJs just to watch how they carry the crowd, back stage is very boring and I tend to fall asleep when I get bored so you can never find me back stage.
How has becoming a father influenced your music and artistic vision?
Being a father motivates me to work even harder because it's not just me anymore I have my son who looks up to me, and as a single parent I have to do what I must to make sure he has a solid foundation to stand on, so I can't make excuses or look for backup because there is none, I am the back up.
With the rise of streaming platforms and digital music, how do you see the music industry evolving in the coming years?
The streaming platforms was the best thing to happen for the music industry, because it gives artiste the opportunity to be heard across the world by millions of people, yes it's still a lot of hard work to build your streams but at the end of it all you will be paid according to your hustle, so you have to get up and make happen.
What advice would you give to aspiring musicians who want to pursue a career in the music industry?
To those who are aspiring to be an artist my advice to you is prepared for a lot of hard work and you must be dedicated and willing to learn, music is a business and it must be treated like one, don't depend on nobody for nothing not even a DJ to play your song, that is why there is music distribution learn as much as you can about digital advertising and music marketing those are the key to having a successful music career.
How has social media played a role in your success as a Soca artist, and what strategies do you use to engage with your fans online?
Social media has been the engine of my business I have been able to engage thousands of persons across the world, having the right presence, personality and the right type of music does a lot most my fans know of me from social media. I also have a WhatsApp stream team with over 1000 contacts who I share my music to, who helps share my music with their contacts and most these persons are people I met online who enjoys my music and stays in contact for future releases.
I don't waste my time on social media doing what most men do, for me social media is my business, when I go online it's mainly to advertise my products to the world I don't have time to be wasting on social media being idle. I released a music video January 1st along with my album and at this present moment my music video has amassed 45,000 views to date that's how dedicated and hard working I am I have no promotion team behind me I hustle like there is no tomorrow. I run ads on Facebook I also interact with persons online before sharing my music with them especially if it's someone new who never heard of me. I introduce my self and what I do then I share my music, I find that people in general like to know that I can interact with them and not just shoving something at them with out telling them what it is, using this method helps me build a relationship with my listeners so that when it's time to tour these same persons come to my show.
Can you give us a sneak peek into any upcoming projects or collaborations you have in the works?
On my latest album I mainly collaborated with producers all my songs are solo but I will be more than happy to advertise my event flyers, my Canada tour is currently still in planning but my Guyana tour is set and ready to go.