Lifestyle

DJ stays close to his roots

  • Barry G (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
  • Barry G (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Barry G didn't choose his DJ name. It was given to him by his neighbours.

In the same way, he didn't choose his sound. The DJ, born Barry Gibbons, very much identifies with his upbringing in Devil's Hole, the home of Souljah One.

“In the 90s, Souljah One was the biggest sound in Bermuda; the biggest reggae sound,” the 32-year-old said.

“Growing up in the area, I used to just see it and hear about it and hear people arguing about it before I even knew what it was.”

He goes as Barry G Music DHF — the initials stand for Devil's Hole Family. The community is as much of a motivator as the music.

Three years ago, he started the DHF Back-to-School Community Fun Day, a free September event for families.

At the first event they handed out 50 school bags packed with the essentials — scissors, rulers, pencils, notebooks. At the second, they gave away 80; this year more than 200.

“Everything is free for the day,” he said of the annual event held at Devil's Hole dock.

“We have snowballs, cotton candy, hamburgers, hot dogs, a fun castle, jet ski rides, Gombeys. The children just come and have a good time.”

He had the idea as a teenager.

“I was trying to come up with a way to help people out and bring the neighbourhood together. With the help of my aunt, we got it going.

“The first time it was pure neighbourhood — D & C grill and people donating right out of their pocket. It was straight Devil's Hole Family.

“This year, people were coming from all over. A lot of people sponsored — Barritts, Dunkley's — it was a big community effort. I didn't want to keep it restricted to people in the neighbourhood. I just wanted us to host it and whoever needs stuff could come.”

Barry G found the same community spirit while out shooting a video for his latest mix, Formula BDA.

After filming Russian dancehall dancer and choreographer Katerina Troitskaya at Devil's Hole, videographer Lara Smith suggested they try out other locations.

Tiny T, JJ, Mugzy and Tinae dance their way through Dockyard, Devil's Hole, Ord Road, Albert Row, Middletown and Court Street.

“I wanted to creep it in the places where most of us live. Just keep it real,” he said.

“We had places where the generator wouldn't work. We had a portable speaker we would carry. Everyone embraced us wherever we went [saying], 'Don't worry you can plug it in my house'.

“In Somerset, the police stopped traffic for us. It was real nice. I didn't know anyone before I started this — only Tiny T and JJ — and everyone was excited to work with me.”

His cousin, choreographer Kiara Wilkinson, provided six of her dancers for the first scene.

The DJ said the video breathed new life into his career.

He was a new father. He had taken time out to care for his son and was sitting at home listening to General Kaution's Hustla Baby, when inspiration struck. The song is one of five tracks on the Formula BDA mix.

“If you're in the box, you can't really see what's going on, but if you're outside the box, you can see everything,” he said.

“I couldn't see when I was going to start again, but when General Kaution made this song, as soon as I heard it, I said 'This is going to be a hit'.”

It took him back to the early days in Devil's Hole. He and fellow DJ, Dennis Musson, would “mess around” with turntables set up in his garage.

“One day I approached Magic from Souljah One and asked him, 'When are you going to let me play?'” he recalled.

He was 14.

“I kept on him. One day, he gave me some records — a big box. We took them back to the garage. We were all excited. It was a box of old dub plates.

“We went through everything. Played them over and over and the next day went back to him and got more.”

Barry G eventually parted ways with Souljah One. While he has rebranded, he is reluctant to claim it as all his own.

“It's always been DHF — before my time. It's a neighbourhood; it's a community; it's a movement that's more than just music. It's always been that for me.”

He will play at General Kaution's concert at Bermuda College on December 15, from 7pm to 11pm.

Instagram: @barrygmusic

SoundCloud: barrygmusic