Hailing from their self-proclaimed “melting pot nation” of Trinidad and Tobago, the band Kes blends together a unique mix of soca, reggae, and calypso. Kes began with the three Dieffenthaller brothers who all started playing instruments around the age of 10. Now, the three brothers are joined by four friends as they tour worldwide to large audiences of soca and reggae fans.
Kes’s most popular song, “Hello,” is part of a collective mix of songs called the Folklore Riddim. The music video for “Hello” features a young white man visiting an older Black man for a tarot card reading. The older Black man, talking in a heavy Caribbean accent, tells him to take a card. The white man flips over the Karnival card, earning a laugh from the older Black man who tells him to take a shot of rum, a staple of Caribbean culture. The rum, of course, transports him to a party. Like most soca songs, “Hello” is about fête, a large party held during carnival season. Love is a common theme of soca music, whether it be romantic or not. Kees, the lead singer of Kes, sings that the girl he’s dancing with is “sweet like a mango.”
Kes’s song, “Savannah Grass,” was nominated for an award this year for Trinidad and Tobago’s Road March, an award given out every year since 1932 — with exceptions during the years affected by World War I and World War II, when Carnival didn’t officially take place. To the anger of many fans, it lost to Machel Montano’s “Famalay.” “Savannah Grass” was accompanied by nostalgic-feeling clips of sunsets and green trees as well as old clips of fětes from the past, all of which took place in what they described as “the lungs of Port of Spain, Trinidad.” It was written as a homage to J’ouvert, the first day of Carnival. The lyrics reflect the excitement surrounding Carnival, where Kees sings “two days not enough no.” Kees sings about the Savannah Grass being a “place of bacchanal,” which comes from the name of the Roman god of wine, Bacchus, who loosened many social restraints through large pleasure-filled parties called bacchanals.
Kes’s “Love It,” a song just released with an acoustic version to many fans’ delight, perfectly shows the amount of love displayed at fêtes of all kinds. Kees sings, “people coming down from all over / just to jam to soca!” The song, similar to “Hello,” was released as part of a collective mix of songs called the Twin Flames Riddim. Kes’s song, “Tuesday on the Rocks,” was the inspiration for Jamaica’s Tuesday on the Rocks concert event, where Kes performed alongside others. The smooth reggae-like song moves slower than his other soca songs, but brings the rhythm. “Nah Let Go,” a soca love song, moves similarly to “Tuesday on the Rocks,” with a slow but solid beat. Kees sings about his girl, saying that she has him up because “she’s night and day.”
In their song, “People,” they thank their supporters, singing that all they want to do is “jump up with my people / wave up with my people / get on bad with my people / I want to fête and carry on / celebrate and carry on.” The music video consists of clips of Kes’s members dancing and having fun, whether it be in the crowd of their concerts or in their own backyards drumming on the back of buckets. To Kes, anyone and everyone is their people.