“Trinidad and Tobago has such a rich, diverse culture with lots of potential. It’s an unexplored field for international music and TV production companies looking for fresh, ‘new old’ sounds for music and marketing projects.”
This is the view of German music reissue producer, DJ and record collector, Merten Kaatz, who recently established Cree Productions Trinidad Ltd. His company will conduct in-depth cultural research and create a digital archive of past productions of the country’s legacy music for promotion on international markets.
InvesTT provided key facilitation services which were instrumental to the setting up of this investment in Trinidad and Tobago, such as guidance throughout the business registration process, work permit assistance and introductions to persons in the local music industry who would be critical to the company’s ongoing success.
“InvesTT has been very flexible in helping me navigate my way around the local business environment. Setting up was smooth -basically they said what can we do and we did it.”
The concept of re-issuing music from Trinidad and Tobago that has already been published, has probably been long forgotten but which has a unique cultural theme, was born in 2013 while Kaatz was still living in Germany and working for a music company, Bear Family Records. When the company set up a subsidiary to focus on the re-issuing of ‘new music’ from the sixties and seventies, Kaatz created the label Cree Records which, in 2016, released a comprehensive compilation album of Trinidadian Lancelot Layne’s work entitled ‘Blow Way’.
One of Kaatz’ most cherished collectibles was a ‘45’ record album from Nappy Mayers’ first band which Kaatz considered to be worth making available again to the world in digital and vinyl formats. His research on Mayers’ work led him to Trinidad and to connect with Mayers’ son on Facebook who sent him more work from his father’s collection. The project grew and expanded into an exploration of the work of other keynote musicians from Trinidad and Tobago during the seventies and eighties such as Clive Zanda, Brother Resistance, Leston Paul, Robin Imamshah, Brother Superior, Andre Tanker, Brother Valentino, Michael Boothman and Estate Semp Productions Ltd.
Kaatz admits that given the globally existing challenge of copyright piracy, artistes were a bit wary of him in the beginninguntil they understood the legitimacy of his work.
“We fight for artists to get rewarded or recognized and it’s important for me to be seen as a legitimate partner. I have a good relationship with everyone I do business with here in Trinidad and Tobago, with most artists it’s more than a business relationship. It’s important to understand the culture that I work in.”
"We believe that the work which Cree is doing will significantly help to increase the international awareness and support of our creative and cultural industries by introducing new avenues for our musicians to earn revenue, whether they are actively recording now or not.”
The significance of the work of Cree Productions Trinidad to the local creative industries will be seen in:
An in-depth documentation of the country’s musical archive
Licensing and re-issuing of out-of-print musical works
Outreach to film and television production companies to make representation for the use of local music in scores and soundtracks
Live events to promote Cree products and artist
Connecting local talent to European promoters, music festivals and performance spaces
Assisting musicians with intellectual property issues
InvesTT welcomes Cree Productions Trinidad and looks forward to a continued association with the company as it embarks on archiving the people, the music and the culture of Trinidad and Tobago.
Photos Courtesy © Bernd Jonkmanns.