WSTRN sticks to their rootsMonday, September 27, 2021
BY RICHARD JOHNSON
THE influence of Jamaican music as well as the culture of the wider Caribbean runs deep in the music being released by the London-based trio WSTRN.
Formed by cousins Akelle Charles and Haile Alexander, and their long-time friend Louis Rei back in 2015, their musical sound is heavily influenced by the region thanks to their Jamaican, Grenadian and Guyanese parentage.
“We grew up in West London, a very multicultural area of the city. So we were hearing a lot of different genres of music. Then it was the family ting, and at home we were very much in touch with our Caribbean heritage so it was reggae and soca. That has come together to really create this fusion sound that we now have... but it was embedded in us so now we just translate that into our lyrics and melody to create happy, feel good music,” Alexander told the Jamaica Observer.
All three were working on solo musical projects of various kind six years ago when the idea for a group came about and they jumped at the idea. Akelle was working on his music, Haile was working on production and Louis was one of the artistes featured on the mixtpae he was producing.
Their latest single Wonder Woman produced by Afrobeats and Grime hitmaker P2J, whose production credits include tracks for Beyoncé and Wizkid. The trio also reported that their previous single, Be My Guest featuring Fireboy DML, continues to gain listenership in the UK, Africa, Caribbean, and North America.
Proud of their use of genres which have influenced their sound, WSTRN is not bothered by people who may label what they do to be cultural appropriation.
“What we do is really create a hybrid... taking bits and pieces of the music we love and fuse them to create this music. We have just taken music from the greats who we aspire to be like and what you have is something new and fresh. As it relates to Caribbean music and culture, we are proud of our heritage. We are 100 per cent genuine and this is an amalgamation of all that we are. For us cultural appropriation is persons who have no business in the music or culture taking it and benefiting. You really can't say that about us,” Louis shared.
The trio noted that they have experienced a number of highs during their relatively short careers. High on the list is performing for 80,000 patrons at a show inside England's famous Wembley Stadium, but it is the support from fans worldwide that tops this list.
“Right now, we are more excited to see where this music takes us and the next chapters on this journey. We are eager to see what doors open for us in the various markets across the globe where people can relate to our music. The thing is we have a strong following in Africa and performed in Nigeria. Since then we have been receiving love from places like Kenya, Uganda and Zambia. We've done stuff with Aljalibe and notice how much we are growing in the Caribbean. So right now that is the joy for us,” explained Haile.
As for the Jamaican acts they would like to work with, WSTRN has already made inroads there as they have stuff in the pipeline with Kranium and did work with Busy Signal.
But each member if the trio has their special act they want to collaborate with.
“Lila Iké,” said Haile. “She is currently in the UK, so we talking to her.”
“It's Shenseea for me...I can't lie,” Louis interrupted.
“Dexta Daps, the man jus' a buss di place,” Axel added.