It is within the walls of a studio that the sweetest melodies arise. In the midst of complementing instruments, inspiration sparks in the echo chambers and creates a musical fire. The Sunday Gleaner continues its series oflooking at various influentialstudios across the island.
An average day at the Equiknoxx studios in Eden Gardens, St Andrew, is filled with the laughter of entertainer ‘regulars’ who pass through and the large Equiknoxx family.
Consisting of five friends – Nicholas Deane, Derrick Coffie, Omari Fearon, Ricardo Martin and Gavin Blair, the Equiknoxx studios began from the love these youngsters had for music while attending Wolmer’s Boys’ School.
“Gavin used to be one that did the mix tapes, I used to be the one that hung around the sounds such as Code Red, Chromatic and such. We were always in music,” producer Derrick ‘Koffy’ Coffie told The Sunday Gleaner.
“Gavin started to build beats and then Nick followed, then all of us … Nick was formally trained in music with guitars and keyboards, the rest of us learnt from experience. We hung around older producers such as Mikey Bennett, Gussie Clark. Learning something from experience I believe is better than learning from books,” he said.
The group seriously started to learn and practise their musical trade in 1999, building tracks for artistes and striking out in the business with compositions for Busy Signal’s break-out album, Step Out. Four of the Equiknoxx members operate in Jamaica, with Ricardo Martin operating the sister label, ‘Psyche Ward Recordings’, out of Canada.
Mainly computer-oriented, the group operates out of an up-to-date studio, consisting of a voicing room, a main operations room and an office. On a regular basis, the voices of artistes, such as Chino, Aidonia, Likkle Joe, Tifa, Ward 21, Timberlee, Natalee Storm, Spice, TOK and Ce’Cile, among others, can be heard in the studio.
Works from Equiknoxx Music include Busy Signal’s Step Out, Vybz Kartel’s Without Licence, Bounty Killer’s Weh Dem Deh and Likkle Joe’s Don’t Leave. They have also done the Octogon Riddim and Barbardian Rihanna’s label mate Shontelle Layne’s album, Shontelligence, with the single, Drop The Needle, which will be released next month by Universal.
They also worked on the track, Walk Out, for Beenie Man on his Undisputed album, as well as Come Out And See by Mavado and De La Ghetto. Recently, the crew has released the immensely popular ‘Sky Daggering’ rhythm, featuring Aidonia’s Hundred Stab as well as Spice, Tifa and others.
According to Koffy, Equiknoxx is looking forward to work more with Mavado and would want to work with the gargamel himself, Buju Banton.
As for other producers they admire, Koffy said, “From the ’90s we definitely admire men like Lenky, Bulby, Don Corleon, Sly and Robbie, and Dave Kelly.
“Of late, there’s Ward 21, have to respect DASECA who are some of the more musical producers. Stephen is very creative as well, and Don is still doing his ting”.
The producers of Equiknoxx Music distinguish themselves by their drive to explore inter-mixing genres. They hope to get label deals and produce top acts, especially new ones that have natural talent. Currently, they are working on a new rhythm, Flappa Scrappa, as well as singles with Aidonia and Likkle Joe.