Rik Carey is an incredible dude. Sure, he sang on one of the biggest songs of the last two decades but he remains humble, sweet and funny. We got to pick his brain and find out more about his life and the Baha Men‘s future.
Interview by Matt Bacon
So how the hell are you?
Rik: I’ve been great man! I’ve been rehearsing to prepare for the upcoming shows. It’s been an exciting time!
What prompted your return?
Rik: I wouldn’t really call it a return because after Who Let The Dogs Out we put out two more records, they didn’t do too well. The last successful single that we brought out was Move It Like This, of course that’s nothing in comparison with Who Let The Dogs Out. It didn’t sell as much, but we’ve been touring on that song. It got us on some good shows. It was a successful song in my eyes. Who Let The Dogs out was a whole phenomenon though, it’s hard to compare to that. I just make the music and do what I love to keep the fun going.
What’s it like to be the father of a phenomenon like Who Let The Dogs Out?
Rik: I wouldn’t call myself the father. I don’t take credit for other peoples writing. I’ve gotta give credit to the original writer, Anselm Douglas. It was used in the Trinidad Carnival in the 90s I think. Our record company at the time was into Caribbean music. We were signed to S Curve at the time and they had a vision for the Baha Men to be a pop band as well as a Caribbean band. The guys in the band didn’t want to do it. They were so accustomed to what we had done on our previous albums. You can really hear the transition when I entered the band. Before they had been on the more soulful tip of music. In my opinion it was more organic and felt a lot more live and had live instrumentation and drums. The Baha Men’s thing has always been drums, especially junkanoo drums. Yet when I joined it became more geared towards the pop side of things.
This record now, because I gotta talk about this record that we did. It’s pop but we fused more junkanoo in this music because we wanted to stay true to the sound of the Bahamas. We try to portray that in all of the songs that we do. Hopefully when people hear it they will love it. In fact, I know they will. All of the fans have been waiting for a long time for it. Forgive me, it is what it is, but the record business is crazy right now. Like most artists we have to find our niche and keep moving forward and get back on the stage. That’s where the success is now, the live performance, we’re that type of group.
Speaking of live performances – can you tell me about your upcoming touring?
Rik: I think the record company wants us to start with some dates in America, but I’m waiting on confirmation on those dates. We’re trying to get on radio shows too. We’ve got to promote now. I think there’s a plan along the East Coast and maybe some parts of central USA. I’m hoping we get to Canada. We’ve been there before but we’ve never really hit Canada yet. We’ve only done one show. I think it was with 98 Degrees. It was during the boy band era. We went to Toronto. That was the last time we have been to Canada. I’m hoping that we get back over there because there’s a huge Caribbean community over there.
What kind of venues will you be playing? This is a headline tour right?
Rik: I can’t answer that just yet. Management is still getting that together. You’ll find out based on the website I’m sure! We’ve been doing all types of shows though, from small nightclubs to big amphitheaters and big tours. It doesn’t matter. The music will take you there. The music will take you to any arena.
As a 19 year old this is kind of surreal for me. Is it weird having a whole generation of college students who grew up knowing your song?
Rik: (Laughter) In Nassau the students know the song, and when they look at the song they don’t go “Oh that’s Rik!” Like when I pick up my kids at school people will ask “Mr Carey, are you the Who Let The Dogs Out guy?” And they’re always shocked to find out, they go crazy! It’s pretty surreal for them as well! It’s such an iconic song you know? Like I said, it’s one of those things that is not a bad thing, my kids can talk about it now, and they’re very proud of the achievements of the Baha Men. We made our country proud. It is what it is!
How old are your kids?
Rik: I have a son who is 14 and one who is 6. The one who is 14 everyone in his crew at high school is shocked that it’s actually me!
In the last 15 years has the success of your hit singles been able to support you? Did you get a job? What have you been up too?
Rik: Artists like me never stop working. Royalty checks still come in, but I don’t get caught up on money and all that stuff. I just have to constantly create. Even if I don’t get the opportunity to get my music on big stages I’m always working behind the scenes as a producer, cowriter or musician. I’m not caught up on the old stuff. It’s a passion for me. If I stopped doing music I honestly believe I’d die. In the Bahamas it’s a double edged sword. I started out as a working musician, before Who Let The Dogs Out I was always working in bands. Now I have my own studio and have a lot going on for me. It hasn’t reached the big stages yet in terms of what I do outside of the Baha Men arena, but whenever there are shows we always get prepared for it. The last four years have been a bit crazy because we’ve been so entrenched in coming up with the right sound for this album.
I’ve got to give a shout out to my crew in Miami Black Shadow Productions who are one of the driving forces behind the creation of the new Baha Men record. They vibe off of the artist. A lot of producers out there don’t want to feed off of the artist, even when the artist is very creative. People think that we’re just Who Let The Dogs Out, but in fact there’s so much more that we offer.
I’ve been digging in lately, the musical depth is impressive.
Rik: We go generations deep man! We get vibes from world class musicians all around the world. They know about the guitarist and drummer from the Baha Men and they know how deep we are. It’s just that the average ear doesn’t give a shit with stuff like that. We’re a deep group man.
That’s honestly something that drew me back to your music over the years. Is that depth meant to be a reflection of your heritage?
Rik: Yes. Many people don’t know this, but my father who is the lead guitarist in the group, before this group was the Baha Men they were known as High Voltage but they changed their name when they got a record deal. There were a couple other bands named High Voltage as well so obviously they had to change it. My parents were both founding members of High Voltage back in the late 70’s. I was born into this music. My mom and dad, they had me while my mom was singing in the band! She was literally on stage pregnant with me! I was literally born into this! I did not inherent this position, but I was born into music. They’ve had a lot of singers though. I’ve been the lead singer only since 1999, right before Who Let The Dogs Out came out.Why did you call the new record Ride With Me?
Rik: One of the songs we did on this record was geared towards the islands of the Bahamas. We’re not just musical ambassadors. We’re from a small country and tourism is our number one industry. We’ve always had the blessing to sell the Bahamas to people. Our sound is so unique and it reminds a lot of people of the Bahamas and island life. Ride With Me is about island hopping. We have about 700 islands but don’t ask me how many are inhabited! A lot of stars live here, I’m waiting to get a key myself! (Laughter) I’m hoping to make enough money to buy myself a nice key.
Usually when we’re traveling we always talk about the Bahamas to people and ask if they’ve heard about our islands and our beautiful crystal clear turquoise waters. The food is great too. It takes fans away from their reality and gives them a taste of where we’re from. That’s why we call it Ride With Me because we want the listener to ride with us!
So one of the goals of the new record is musical escapism?
Rik: Partially. It’s a fun f*cking record man! When I listen to it I try to compare it to other Baha Men records, from both before I got on and the ones I’m involved in. This album is off the chain though! There’s no audience left untapped here. We’re targeting the youth, the college kids, the older generation, people who are into real music, people who are into dance music, people who are into hip hop… We get the flair of different genres. On top of that we add our island flavor and that’s what makes it so different. The junkanoo elements are great. It’s going to be fun! I try to compare the sound to a little bit of what Pitbull has done meets Bruno Mars, meets… a bunch of other guys! This record is kind of like that! I’m hoping we’re getting on some of those tours!
It seems like you’re pretty happy with the pop music coming out these days…
Rik: I love it! It seems like EDM has kind of taken over for now, but what I’m seeing now is EDM fusing with world music. I’m referring to things with big heavy bassy African drums. It’s like Caribbean fused at times. I hear these records and I’m like “Shit the Baha Men have been doing this since the 90s!” Of course we’re a different era, so now it’s revamped. The new record has those elements as well, it’s not hard EDM because we want to be on mainstream radio, but it’s definitely there. I like the stuff that Usher is doing because he’s keeping his roots. It’s got a really good fusion to it.
Do you feel your own influence on this scene?
Rik: That’s a good question! I think we have influenced pop music in some form in the past. Who Let The Dogs Out for instance, I’m not calling out names, but I’m picking up on certain artists vibes and I’m like “Hmm! Somebody’s been studying us!” The young cats call it inspiration and that’s fine. People use other artists to inspire their own art and creativity. That’s cool man! I don’t mind that at all. I myself have had artists in the past who I kind of emulated or looked up too and tried to turn their stuff into my own style. I’m not calling out names but you know who you are! (Laughter)
So what does the junkanoo spirit mean to you personally?
Rik: It’s like no other, it’s heritage and it Bahamian culture and it’s embedded in each Bahamians DNA. Junkanoo is like the rawest most organic form of rhythm coming from this region. I can’t describe it to you in words, you have to actually be here, or at least go on line and check out junkanoo music in the Bahamas. There’s no words to describe it. African music is mainly rhythm driven. Back in the days of slavery that’s how slaves communicated, it was like a tribal thing. Every tribe had their own rhythm. It still goes on, if you look at every Caribbean island they each have a distinctive rhythm but it’s all derivative of Africa. Junkanoo in the Bahamas is how everyone can come together and celebrate life, like nothing else f*cking matters. You get out there, get your goatskin drums, tom toms, whistles, horn, and f*cking party in the street. I hope you do come to the Bahamas and check it out. Watching it online is no comparison.
Is that what you’re trying to communicate with the music video for Night & Day?
Rik: We try to give you a taste of it. What we did with Night & Day was more like a backyard party. That’s how we party in the Bahamas, we have small junkanoo groups at backyard parties all the time. What we gave you a little taste of what junkanoo is at a party. But on New Year’s Eve and Christmas Day imagine thousands of people doing that! What you saw in the video was twenty guys getting together. But imagine that in the thousands on the streets of Nassau from one in the morning until ten in the morning, just non-stop vibes. We just wanted to portray a family gathering celebrating life.
So whose backyard was it?
Rik: That was the directors! His folks backyard. Who were you expecting? (Laughter)
I want you to finish this sentence for me “I’ve never told this story before and probably shouldn’t but…”
Rik: (Laughter) I’m trying not to compromise myself, but I’m the hottest vocalist there is!
What do you love so much about music?
Rik: It’s a great way to escape from reality. I’ve been in this for so long I don’t even remember when I started. I’ve always been experimenting with production. I was always a writer and producer, even if I’m not the frontman I’m drenched in music no matter what. In the Bahamas I’ve been really busy as a producer and a writer. If I’m not up front I’m working behind the scenes. I’ve got to have it!
Any final words of wisdom?
Rik: Always do what you love and work hard at your craft! I can’t say it any better. Some people are naturally gifted and have a passion for certain things and they don’t have the opportunity to pursue what they have a passion for. A lot of times you have people who get drenched in everyday life and forget who they really are. I say pursue your passion, find time to do it because it’s therapeutic.
THe Baha Man have release a new single today “OFF THE LEASH”!
Get it on iTunes (http://smarturl.it/OffThLeashiTunes),
Google Play (http://smarturl.it/OffTheLeashGP) or
listen on Spotify (http://smarturl.it/OffTheLeasSp)