Entertainment

New Journey

I-Octane to take fans on new voyage

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL Observer senior writer

Friday, February 14, 2014    

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THERE has been no shortage of hit songs for deejay I-Octane in the last five years. Songs like Lose a Friend, My Life and L.O.V.E. Y. O. U. have made him one of dancehall's brightest prospects.

But with his new album, My Journey, the Clarendon native is keen to break out of Jamaican and ethnic markets in the United States. The set, produced by Andre 'DJ Frass' Gordon, is scheduled for release March 4 by Tad's International Record.

Tad Dawkins, principal of the Florida-based company, says there is no specific plan for My Journey to reach new demographics in the US or Europe. According to Dawkins, it "will have no geographic limitations".

I-Octane, 29, agrees. But he told Splash this week that while his second album has broad appeal, scoring a hit stateside would be a feather in his hat.

"The thing with this album is that everyone can relate to it. Having a song that becomes successful outside the usual markets will help to propel the music, make it easier to make the album popular and solidify the I-Octane brand," he said.

Love You Like I Do, produced by DJ Frass, is the album's lead single. The two have had chart success in the past, most notably with My Life, a big hit from 2011.

Crying To The Nation, I-Octane's debut album, was released in early 2012 and drew favourable reviews in the US and United Kingdom. It contained L.O.V.E. Y.O.U. and the hardcore hit, Badmind Dem a Pree, which was done with Bounty Killer.

That album confirmed I-Octane's status as a bona fide dancehall star, but he is aware the genre has not produced a rush of hits in recent years. The way he sees it, the dancehall industry "is trying to figure out the next step".

He added: "As with everything, there is always room for improvement. The world is changing and dancehall has to find creative ways to move with the times."

Some of I-Octane's colleagues, including deejays Konshens and Busy Signal, made some noise in Europe last year. Working with hot production team Major Lazer, Konshens hit with the remix of his Gal a Bubble, while Busy Signal's Watch Out Fi Dis (Bumaye) entered several charts on the continent.

Dawkins, an industry veteran who has worked with Dennis Brown and Gregory Isaacs, acknowledged the decline in dancehall sales. He noted, however, that the sound still has a following which his company hopes to tap into with My Journey.

"I-Octane has a huge and growing local and international fan base who are hungry for his music," said Dawkins. "My Journey provides a bellyfull of conscious and inspiring songs to satisfy their musical appetite."

Born Byiome Muir, I-Octane is from the Sandy Bay community of Clarendon. He has been recording since 2000, getting his start as a teenager with producer Donovan Germain's Penthouse Records, where he recorded as Richie Rich.

After leaving Penthouse and changing his moniker to I-Octane, he had a number of hits for various producers including Cash Flow Records (No Love Inna Dem, Puff It), Stephen McGregor (Burn Dem Bridge) and Gal a Gimme Bun for Seanizzle.

With My Journey, I-Octane is looking to go global.

"I'm focused on breaking into every corner of the world with my music and message. That's what we're working towards," he said.

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