Smooth Sailing for Soca

Smooth Sailing for Soca

The genre is spreading thanks to modern artists like Kes the Band, and Carnival.

I just spent my birthday at the Sail Grand Prix in Bermuda. Lucky me! Part of the event was a Kes the Band concert (which I missed) and it got me thinking about Trinidadian soca. If you’ve never been to Trinidad & Tobago, it’s a country that enjoys a multicultural blend. You’re as likely to eat a curry goat roti there as a bake and shark. Kes the Band’s music embodies that by blending soca, rock, and EDM.

“For the group, blending pop, rock, reggae, calypso, dancehall and afrobeats together is one part of their greater calling: To spread good vibes.”

Here’s one of their first hits, “Wotless” (e.g., dancing like no one can see you):

Soca was born in T&T in the 70s, infusing calypso with East Indian musical styles around the same time that reggae was blowing up in Jamaica. It’s like soca and reggae are cousins. Lord Shorty is credited with being the first to create the genre. He called it “the soul of calypso.” Get it? SOul of CAlypso: SO + CA = SOCA!

Here’s his 1975 hit, “Endless Vibrations:”

Listen to that 70s brass! It’s like watching a chase scene on CHiPS.😆 That style is sometimes called Chutney Soca because it contains significant East Indian influences using instruments including the dholak, taal, Indian harmonium, and mandolin.

Today, soca is closely tied to Trinidad’s world famous Carnival. Half of Port of Spain’s shops seem to sell carnival gear, to give you an idea of what a big deal this pre-Lenten bacchanal is to the country. Each year, it draws around 30,000 people, giving soca the global exposure that it deserves.

What’s your favorite soca song? I hope you listen to it as soon as you can—and that it keeps a smile on your face this week.


* Player Image of Kes the Band, featuring Kees Dieffenthaller (a.k.a. Kes). Image from

an examination of reggae, rockers & ska music