Bassist high and lows
Born Damien Alexí Kristian Neblett, the former Barbados Community College graduate earned his Associate Degree in music and has since launched himself completely into working the music scene.
Place a bass guitar in his hand, push the cable into an amp and he’d make the most apathetic thug twitch with the sounds he can create. This is a result of what the powerful combination of an 18-year-old and his $1 500 Fender Deluxe active five-string Mexican bass can do.
Currently the bassist of the popular local Strategy The Energy Band, and having backed Soca Queen Alison Hinds, he says that he gets his greatest musical high from “making people dance in the club or playing for other musicians and watching their expressions as I play something exciting”.
Despite the joy of a warm reception from listeners, and music being a career for which Damien continuously wants to be in pursuit, he is appalled at how musicians are treated by those who require their services.
Giving a example, he said: “Someone calls a band to play but says the budget is tight and offers free refreshments [and no payment]. Why is this? Why is it that the person serving the same refreshments are being paid? The persons cleaning up are being paid.”
He expanded: “Also, the sound company is being paid, who won’t set up without [being paid] because a sound system is a big investment. Why are the musicians, who have to buy equipment, practise, learn songs, and then entertain the crowd/audience, treated like the lowest priority?”
Nevertheless, seeing musicians treated as second-class citizens has only been a slight dampener, but major learning experience for the auto-enthusiast, who told WEEKEND NATION that if he was not a musician, he would be an auto-mechanic.
Damien recalled being interested in music for as long as he can remember. His early influences were primarily, American west coast gangsta-rap, with artistes such as the Westside Connection, Dr Dre, Nate Dogg and Eminem earning major “eartime” with the young boy at the time.
He went on to say: “I first became interested in playing [music] around 2006, loved the sound of electric guitars and wanted someday to play like Carlos Santana, but soon that would change as my mind become more accepting of the groove in music, and so I started to feel it more and I picked up bass after I had started learning guitar.
“My mother had bought me a small-scale Taylor acoustic guitar, even though I wanted a full scale electric, and a small guitar book which was a good starting point. Once I got hold of the basics, I joined the Christ Church Foundation School Pop Band.
“Shortly after, I switched to bass and there was a vacancy in the school’s main band and I got the spot around 2007.”
His dream has been, and still is, to play on large stages before thousands of people, but while he’s knocking up the smaller venues in Barbados and elsewhere, his parents are behind him 100 per cent, always encouraging their son to work hard, even going to see him play, whether it be in a nightclub or a big event.
This enthusiasm is also shared between many of his friends. He says: “Most of my friends are musicians; we can relate to each other very well. Most of those who aren’t musicians are impressed and would like to be able to play.”
Moreover, this promising youngster does not only play music, but he creates it. When he is not plucking the thick strings of his bass guitar on stage, he’s producing.
This hobby, has brought him the most joy thus far in his career, second only to going to St Maarten in the Alison Hinds’ band and performing with Gyptian and Denise Belfon, among others.
He recalls the great feeling he had when he was told “that an instrumental I had produced for Tyna Jay and Fantom Dundeal had played on the radio”.
Damien concluded that he will always find ways to make music a part of his life because “learning more and being able to play/create something you hear in your mind”, allows for his never-ending creativity never to be limited.
And, for now, and he has more time to focus on improving his craft.
As the old, even cliché saying goes, the sky is the limit, and Neblett has been rapidly over the last year, achieved what many talented musicians, much older than himself, have yet to.
He concludes: “I can surely say I’ve been blessed.”