Noel P. Norton on stage with the President of the National Council of Indian Culture(NCIC) Deokienanan Sharma at the presentation of “Kalyana, The Beauty and Charm of Indian Culture in Trinidad and Tobago” - October 16, Diwali Nagar Opening Ceremony, Chaguanas, Trinidad 2011

Of great historic significance for Trinidad and Tobago is Noel P Norton’s recordings of every day life, industry, agriculture, landscapes and people of all walks of life. His work is captured in three previous publications: Noel Norton’s Trinidad and Tobago, Another Look at Trinidad and Tobago and Noel Norton’s 20 years of Trinidad Carnival. Among those important archives is his special interest in the beauty and daily endeavours of the Indian community in Trinidad.  

His newest publication Kalyana is Mary and Noel Norton’s first and last joint recording of their impressions of East Indian culture, contribution and beauty over the years. The publication, a culmination of 2 years of production work, is also a dedication by Noel Norton to his wife Mary who passed peacefully on 25 August 2011, shortly after completion.  Further details on Noel and Mary Norton’s contribution to national development in the field of photography can be found at

About the book:

Kalyana, The Beauty and Charm of Indian Culture in Trinidad and Tobago” Photographs by Noel P. Norton, Memoirs by the Mary Norton 

A collection of over 70 photographs dating from 1959-present with a foreword by historian, Angelo Bissessarsingh and narrative by the recently deceased Mary Norton.

16”W x 10”H(closed); 32”W x 10”H(open)

[Design & Production: Everything Slight Pepper]

PRINT IS NOT DEAD… at least we at ESP are not letting it go down without a fight! 

While in Butch Lim Choy’s studio photographing Everything Slight Pepper’s portfolio, I got an eye-opening reminder. Did you know that in the publications area in 2011 , we’ve design and produced 3 coffeetable-esque type books, 1 full sized magazine, 4 issues of a pocket-sized magazine and 9 issues of a map-style fold-out newspaper hybrid!

And that is just the publishing projects, just this year… is coming soon! 


Boy Boy & The Magic Drum ~ Machel Montano

MACHEL MONTANO: ONE MORE TIME ~ Caribbean Beat Magazine

Machel Montano is rethinking the whole thing…again.

Late last year, the man defending the International Soca Monarch title was toying with the idea of entering the Calypso Monarch competition too, and also having fun with the 49 tracks he had shortlisted to work on for Carnival 2012. He would choose 12 or perhaps 15 out of those 49…No, it was too soon to choose – there was a good chance he would keep getting raw beats and song lyrics from both experienced and upcoming producers and songwriters.

Of the new work, Montano said, “I am focusing on lyrics, point of view – both with the producers and the songwriters. It is tricky to get something to work on the road and make an impact on the radio.”

But it’s a trick he’s mastered. And at 37, after 30 years in the business, he’s still hungry. He’s still setting the trends. He’s pushing forward with reinvention, even as he embraces the new generation of songmakers.

“I am obsessed with the news, with trends, with changes, and I use them to gauge where I am in terms of my consciousness. So that’s where the songs and offerings come from. Last year was about taking a risk, trying something new.”

That wasn’t the first time he’s tried something new. Montano has already changed many aspects of Carnival music, in terms of the way concerts are presented (via his Alternative Concept shows), the way it’s performed, through his use of theatrical elements, special effects and dance, and the technology used in production.

He also wants to change the way its success is measured. Achieving international stardom might mean too great a compromise, he feels.

“People used to ask me: will soca make it? But I wonder what is their definition of ‘making it’. Because I could say my fan base is growing, my shows are 99 per cent successful, the music is good…

“The definition seems to be tied into things like BET, MTV, the Grammys. I wonder if they realise that that is a machine and a system in itself, and to be part of that, we have to sacrifice something of ourselves, of what we do.”

In the last five years he has also worked on changing himself: “Making a lot of personal changes, changing structures, spiritual changes…I realised that the peace needed to increase and the focus needed to strengthen.”

In between gigs, Montano has been hanging out at clubs, dancing to pumping electronic house/dance music. It might seem a world away from the bright brass and cadence of calypso and soca music, but Montano picked up on a connection.

“When you go in there, you realise they are singing about love and peace and togetherness. There are no gunshots, no fighting. I got inspiration from that kind of music and I felt, ‘That music sounding like soca.’” There’s a musical relationship too, he says.

“The beat – soca – is a speeded-up cadence beat and all of a sudden everybody using it.” He rattled off a list of Billboard Top Ten performers: “Pitbull, Ne-Yo, Rihanna…It’s not just dance music that’s using this beat. Without even singing soca. I can tell it has arrived in the psyche, in the hands, in the feet,” he added excitedly. “When I listen to Taio Cruz (‘Dynamite’) I hear soca phrasing, soca speech.”

Will the influence go in both directions? Since his double success in 2011, winning both his first Soca Monarch title and the Road March, Montano has been working with young producers and songwriters like KC Phillips, Erphann Alves, Full Blown Entertainment, Nebula 868 and Shaw songs like the emotion-driven “Masqueraders” and the pumping anthems “Break Away” and “On the Floor”.

For someone so driven, it’s hard to pin him down with a question about his plans. You’ll get answers like: “You have to love your story and it will take you where you want to be.”

But for Carnival 2012, one thing is certain: Machel Montano will have worked very hard to produce new, exciting music and spectacular performances.

Machel’s milestones

Born November 24, 1974 in Port of Spain, Trinidad

Attended Siparia Boys’ RC and Presentation College, San Fernando

1982    Began performing

1984    Launched his first band, Pranasonic Express

1985    Released his first album, Too Young to Soca

1986    Appeared on the US talent show Star Search

1987    Youngest person and first Trinidadian to win the Caribbean Song Festival

1989    Pranasonic Express renamed Xtatik, one of  many evolutions

1991    Won T&T’s Young Kings Competition

1997    First Road March title, for “Big Truck”

2006    Second Road March with Patrice Roberts, “Band of the Year”

2007    Third Road March, “Jumbie”

2011    Fourth Road March, “Advantage”

2011     Released his 35th album, The Return

Montano’s mega-hits

“Too Young to Soca” (1985)

“Dream Girl” (1986)

“School Days” (1987)

“Take Me Back” (1991)

“By All Means”(1994)

“Big Truck” (1997)

“Music Farm” (1997)

“Footsteps” (1998)

“Toro Toro” (1998)

“Powder Puff (It’s J’Ouvert)” (1999)

“Big Phat Fish” (1999)

“Outa Space” (1999)

“Water Flowing” (2000)

“Wrecker” (2000)

“Break” (2002)

“Tay Lay Lay” (2002)

“It’s Carnival” (2003)

“Craziness” (2004)            “No War” (2004)

“Dance With You” (2005)

“Madder Dan Dat” (2005)

“We Not Giving Up” (2005)

“You” (2005)

“Band of the Year” (2006)

“Higher than High” (2007)

“Jumbie” (2007)

“One More Time” (2007)

“Defence (The Anthem)” (2008)

“Jamishness” (2008)

“Push Yuh Bumper” (2008)

“Doh Hold Meh Back” (2010)

“No Behaviour” (2010)

“Wooeeii Gal Wooeeii” (2010)

“Thiefin” (2010)

“Advantage” (2011)

“Illegal” (2011)

“Vibes Cyah Done” (2011)

Machel and friends - collaborations

“Toro Toro”, Shaggy, 1998

“Outa Space” Beenie Man, 1999

“Real Unity” Drupatee, 2000

“It’s Carnival” Destra, 2003

The Xtatik Experience album, 2005: “Mor Tor”, Rikki Jai; “We Not Giving Up”, Doug E Fresh; “You (Remix)”, Wyclef Jean

“Roll It Gal”, Alison Hinds, 2007

Flame On, 2008 album: “Oil and Music”, David Rudder; “Congo Man”, The Mighty Sparrow; “Defence”, Pitbull and Lil Jon

“Wooeeii Gyal Wooeeii”, Busy Signal, 2010

Winning ways           

Copyright Organisation of T&T Awards:

Song of the Year: “Big Truck” (1998), “Footsteps” (1999)

Male Composer of the Year 1998 – 2000

Male Composer of the Year (2000)

Songwriter of the Year (2004, 2007, 2008)

Song of the Year, Soca of the Year – “Jumbie” (2007)

International Soca Awards:

Best Male Soca Performer, Overall Favourite Male Soca Artist 2003

Overall Soca Band of the Year 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009

Soca Performer of the Year – Male 2004, 2005, 2007 – 2009

Soca Songwriter of the Year 2005, 2008

Overall Male Soca Artist of the Year 2005, 2007 – 2010

Soca Artist Album/CD of the Year 2005 – 2009

Soca Song of the Year 2006

Best Ragga Soca Collaboration 2006, 2007

Best Soca Collaboration, Uptempo 2006, 2008

Best Soca Music Video of the Year 2005, 2007

Favourite Uptempo Soca – Male 2007

Favourite Groove Soca – Male 2009

Best Groove Soca – Male 2010

International Reggae and World Music Awards:

Bob Marley Entertainer of the Year, Best Calypso/Soca Entertainer 2007, 2010

Most Outstanding Stage Personality 2007, 2011

Most Outstanding Show Band 2010

Best Caribbean Entertainer, Best Male Soca/Calypso Entertainer, Best Soca Band and Award of Honour, Most Outstanding Show Band/Group 2011

BET J Virtual Awards: Best Caribbean Artiste of the Year 2008

International Soca Monarch 2011

by Various Contributors, Reporting by Tracy Assing


‘I Am An Islandista’ 

Is: Where is your ‘happy place’?

J.A.:Trinidad, Jouvert morning, 5am, alcohol soaked, covered head to toe in cocoa and dancing by myself alongside my friends and family is my perfect blissful place both mentally and physically.

I usually shy away from attention and interviews but I finally got a chance to talk about my happy place…JOUuuu-vayyy mornin! Thanks Amanda!

More of the Q&A (there is some substance I promise) > here

ESP jr is a tiny division of Caribbean Design studio, Everything Slight Pepper. ESP jr is devoted to the creation of indigenous content for young audiences. 

Everything Slight Pepper is committed to telling stories that elevate Caribbean colloquial references to a high design realm. In a world where everyone is moving really fast, ESP is determined to make people slow down a little bit and pay attention to details.