edge

The Sound of Natural Music

Photographs by Mark Lyndersay.

Picture courtesy Mark LyndersayMy name is Avianne Callender and my all-acoustic instruments music band, Terrenaissance, has a new EP, Earthology.

I was born and raised in Diego Martin and Diamond Vale, a place I loved for the little bit of greenery here and there. And the sense of wonder, serenity and adventure that comes with being near nature… Even if that only means neighbourhood parks and backyard trees.


My small direct family [is well] but, sometimes, I am reminded of a deceased aunt or uncle by someone else's reference to a word. A song. A facial expression. [Even] a meal. People remain with us in the smallest of ways.


Mucurapo Girls' RC was a fundamental introduction to arts and culture. In standard two, I used to prepare and perform short comedic skits in class but, for a long time, I suffered with serious stage fright. At Holy Name Convent, my childhood dream of playing the guitar came true with lessons from Ava Hutchinson-Agard. I was the only one in the class without a guitar. I literally had to borrow one from the girl next to me to practise playing what was taught.


My mother's guitar mysteriously got broken.They said I broke it but I can't remember that. We eventually had it repaired and then I never stopped playing. I rehearsed for hours, learning chords to my favourite pop songs through sheet music. Internet access was not a thing then so the music store down Oxford Street was a lifeline. Photocopied sheet music was $8 a piece and I collected quite a few.


Oftentimes, music competed with my A' Levels at Trinity College. The school had a strong music culture under school principal/calypsonian, Llewellyn MacIntosh, Short Pants. I was playing at school interfaith ceremonies, accompanying singers in calypso competitions, jamming in the music room. I was high on music and felt like I was flying.

I love children’s free-spiritedness, joy and authenticity. But I never dreamt of having a family myself.

As a child, I enjoyed time indoors reading or creating something. Whether sketching faces, crochet, singing into an old tape recorder – or the fan!

In adolescence, I went through a solid alternative rock phase and, later, the local rock scene. I also enjoyed calypso as my parents love kaiso.


I was not allowed to go clubbing and did not have cable TV. I am grateful now for not having had those influences. Our struggles make us who we are. I was an avid, though not very good, chess player.

My relatives really loved the cakes I baked [as a teenager]. But my mother did not always appreciate the constant disappearance of her ingredients.


I was raised Christian but more or less allowed to choose my own path. I am still a believer even though I do not regularly attend religious services.


There are no coincidences. There are lessons in every event that occurs, every person we meet and every struggle we face. [They] prepare us for down the road. There is something to be learnt every single time. [And] the lesson repeats itself until learned.

The afterlife seems more plausible than a long, cold sleep.


I read more non-fiction and autobiographies but I have always and still love fiction and poetry. Especially Spanish Caribbean and Latin American literature as an undergrad. I have loved film all my life and studied it during university and was finally able to use some of what I learnt to work on Terrenaissance's music video for the song Lion.

I think the Bahamian director, Maria Govan films Rain and Play the Devil are truly rich, well-made and profoundly Caribbean. I also truly appreciate a good comedy. However, comedy is quite hard to come by these days.


J'ouvert is Carnival, for me. The transition from darkness into light, the earthiness, the playfulness feels more real and grounded. I have played pretty mas only once, thankfully, with a free costume, and I doubt that there will be a next time.

I thoroughly enjoyed my years at UWI but my musical life became more or less dormant for [those] three years. I only played by myself at home from time to time. Apart from my Spanish with psychology degree, I had taken courses exploring film, gender and development studies. The intellectual stimulation was truly enriching. But I also felt an emptiness inside.

Picture courtesy Mark LyndersayOne evening on campus, Miguel Browne saw me playing my guitar and invited me to join Los Parranderos de UWI. From the very first day of practice, I felt this surge of energy inside. Through parang, I discovered [new] parts of the country. I realised Trinidad can be a very different place, depending on where you grow up and live.


Back in 2006/7, when I started Terrenaissance while working at UWI, there were only a handful of underground, non-mainstream music events, such as Gillian Moor's Songshine, where one could witness original music. Spoken word poetry was still emerging as a movement. Poet/guitarist/publisher Paula Obe's work and, later, her 10 Sisters CD production was encouraging to me as a young guitarist.


Having a band was a childhood dream but bands were stuck in traditional music genres I could not see myself in. Past generations bands such as Ras Shorty I & the Love Circle, Andre Tanker & One World Contraband and Mungal Patasar & Pantar [had brought] fusion music to my consciousness. But there was little similar activity in my generation. I wanted something more fresh, more profound than dancehall, soca and rock. Something that spoke to my love for [both] local and global sounds. There was nothing like this at the time on local airwaves.


Before Terrenaissance, while arranging a Latin-flavoured piece of music I’d created, I kept hearing [in my head how] the song could be completely transformed by unexpected instruments, such as tabla and cello, and varied acoustic instruments live. I had envisioned a group of musicians and singers that would truly reflect a merger of Trinidad and Tobago musical genres, from the rootsy to the mainstream to the classical.


Facebook was still new and I literally called over 50 people including music schools to reach potential musicians. Some were not willing to play [outside] their traditional genre. Some days, I [approached] guitarists playing in the open air on campus. In our first gig, there were 13 of us on stage. Since then, [we’ve had a core of about six] with some new members.


Terrenaissance is a group of deep thinkers who recognise the unique quality of the band’s music [and its] concept of rebirth, music of the world/earth and the idea of fusing varied genres in a natural organic way. Narrowing the band name down to one word proved to be a struggle. Chanzo suggested flipping languages, connecting the French word, 'terre' (earth) and the anglicised French word, 'renaissance' (rebirth).

Singer, songwriter & percussionist, Roger Ti, was my work colleague. Lead guitarist, mandolin and pan flute player, Joel Castagne, was the first member I [recruited] through my walks around campus. Joel’s brother, Chris, a multi-instrumentalist, feels every note he plays on the steelpan, kalimba, box bass, bongo or conch shell. Baritone, songwriter and berimbau-player, Chanzo Greenidge, I met as an undergraduate student. Venu [flute] player and South Indian classical style vocalist, Trevor Samaroo, is the second band member I met on a campus walk. Our conversation about South Indian classical music went on for hours! I saw Tinika Davis’ photo online. Female drummers are exceptionally rare. Kiran Sankar, a new member, brings heart, humour and effortless tabla and udu, to the band. Djembe drummer, Ajamo Sutton, is the newest member.


The recording of Earthology spanned a decade [through] challenges of personal and professional commitments and hiccups [in finding] acoustic instruments to fulfil crucial parts of the songs. It is rewarding to know our music still resonates today. A lot of work went into the songs, from their creation to the final touches. [But I think] we not only captured the dynamic musical range of T&T, but the soul of the band.


To me, a Trini is someone who instinctively knows rhythm. And uses humour as a defence mechanism.


Trinidad and Tobago, to me, is a golden land whose extraordinary potential is yet to be fully explored. Although it has been imagined and reimagined by so many.


Check the music out: https://terrenaissance.com/

The Sound of Natural Music

Photographs by Mark Lyndersay.

Picture courtesy Mark LyndersayMy name is Avianne Callender and my all-acoustic instruments music band, Terrenaissance, has a new EP, Earthology.

I was born and raised in Diego Martin and Diamond Vale, a place I loved for the little bit of greenery here and there. And the sense of wonder, serenity and adventure that comes with being near nature… Even if that only means neighbourhood parks and backyard trees.


My small direct family [is well] but, sometimes, I am reminded of a deceased aunt or uncle by someone else's reference to a word. A song. A facial expression. [Even] a meal. People remain with us in the smallest of ways.


Mucurapo Girls' RC was a fundamental introduction to arts and culture. In standard two, I used to prepare and perform short comedic skits in class but, for a long time, I suffered with serious stage fright. At Holy Name Convent, my childhood dream of playing the guitar came true with lessons from Ava Hutchinson-Agard. I was the only one in the class without a guitar. I literally had to borrow one from the girl next to me to practise playing what was taught.


My mother's guitar mysteriously got broken.They said I broke it but I can't remember that. We eventually had it repaired and then I never stopped playing. I rehearsed for hours, learning chords to my favourite pop songs through sheet music. Internet access was not a thing then so the music store down Oxford Street was a lifeline. Photocopied sheet music was $8 a piece and I collected quite a few.


Oftentimes, music competed with my A' Levels at Trinity College. The school had a strong music culture under school principal/calypsonian, Llewellyn MacIntosh, Short Pants. I was playing at school interfaith ceremonies, accompanying singers in calypso competitions, jamming in the music room. I was high on music and felt like I was flying.

I love children’s free-spiritedness, joy and authenticity. But I never dreamt of having a family myself.

As a child, I enjoyed time indoors reading or creating something. Whether sketching faces, crochet, singing into an old tape recorder – or the fan!

In adolescence, I went through a solid alternative rock phase and, later, the local rock scene. I also enjoyed calypso as my parents love kaiso.


I was not allowed to go clubbing and did not have cable TV. I am grateful now for not having had those influences. Our struggles make us who we are. I was an avid, though not very good, chess player.

My relatives really loved the cakes I baked [as a teenager]. But my mother did not always appreciate the constant disappearance of her ingredients.


I was raised Christian but more or less allowed to choose my own path. I am still a believer even though I do not regularly attend religious services.


There are no coincidences. There are lessons in every event that occurs, every person we meet and every struggle we face. [They] prepare us for down the road. There is something to be learnt every single time. [And] the lesson repeats itself until learned.

The afterlife seems more plausible than a long, cold sleep.


I read more non-fiction and autobiographies but I have always and still love fiction and poetry. Especially Spanish Caribbean and Latin American literature as an undergrad. I have loved film all my life and studied it during university and was finally able to use some of what I learnt to work on Terrenaissance's music video for the song Lion.

I think the Bahamian director, Maria Govan films Rain and Play the Devil are truly rich, well-made and profoundly Caribbean. I also truly appreciate a good comedy. However, comedy is quite hard to come by these days.


J'ouvert is Carnival, for me. The transition from darkness into light, the earthiness, the playfulness feels more real and grounded. I have played pretty mas only once, thankfully, with a free costume, and I doubt that there will be a next time.

I thoroughly enjoyed my years at UWI but my musical life became more or less dormant for [those] three years. I only played by myself at home from time to time. Apart from my Spanish with psychology degree, I had taken courses exploring film, gender and development studies. The intellectual stimulation was truly enriching. But I also felt an emptiness inside.

Picture courtesy Mark LyndersayOne evening on campus, Miguel Browne saw me playing my guitar and invited me to join Los Parranderos de UWI. From the very first day of practice, I felt this surge of energy inside. Through parang, I discovered [new] parts of the country. I realised Trinidad can be a very different place, depending on where you grow up and live.


Back in 2006/7, when I started Terrenaissance while working at UWI, there were only a handful of underground, non-mainstream music events, such as Gillian Moor's Songshine, where one could witness original music. Spoken word poetry was still emerging as a movement. Poet/guitarist/publisher Paula Obe's work and, later, her 10 Sisters CD production was encouraging to me as a young guitarist.


Having a band was a childhood dream but bands were stuck in traditional music genres I could not see myself in. Past generations bands such as Ras Shorty I & the Love Circle, Andre Tanker & One World Contraband and Mungal Patasar & Pantar [had brought] fusion music to my consciousness. But there was little similar activity in my generation. I wanted something more fresh, more profound than dancehall, soca and rock. Something that spoke to my love for [both] local and global sounds. There was nothing like this at the time on local airwaves.


Before Terrenaissance, while arranging a Latin-flavoured piece of music I’d created, I kept hearing [in my head how] the song could be completely transformed by unexpected instruments, such as tabla and cello, and varied acoustic instruments live. I had envisioned a group of musicians and singers that would truly reflect a merger of Trinidad and Tobago musical genres, from the rootsy to the mainstream to the classical.


Facebook was still new and I literally called over 50 people including music schools to reach potential musicians. Some were not willing to play [outside] their traditional genre. Some days, I [approached] guitarists playing in the open air on campus. In our first gig, there were 13 of us on stage. Since then, [we’ve had a core of about six] with some new members.


Terrenaissance is a group of deep thinkers who recognise the unique quality of the band’s music [and its] concept of rebirth, music of the world/earth and the idea of fusing varied genres in a natural organic way. Narrowing the band name down to one word proved to be a struggle. Chanzo suggested flipping languages, connecting the French word, 'terre' (earth) and the anglicised French word, 'renaissance' (rebirth).

Singer, songwriter & percussionist, Roger Ti, was my work colleague. Lead guitarist, mandolin and pan flute player, Joel Castagne, was the first member I [recruited] through my walks around campus. Joel’s brother, Chris, a multi-instrumentalist, feels every note he plays on the steelpan, kalimba, box bass, bongo or conch shell. Baritone, songwriter and berimbau-player, Chanzo Greenidge, I met as an undergraduate student. Venu [flute] player and South Indian classical style vocalist, Trevor Samaroo, is the second band member I met on a campus walk. Our conversation about South Indian classical music went on for hours! I saw Tinika Davis’ photo online. Female drummers are exceptionally rare. Kiran Sankar, a new member, brings heart, humour and effortless tabla and udu, to the band. Djembe drummer, Ajamo Sutton, is the newest member.


The recording of Earthology spanned a decade [through] challenges of personal and professional commitments and hiccups [in finding] acoustic instruments to fulfil crucial parts of the songs. It is rewarding to know our music still resonates today. A lot of work went into the songs, from their creation to the final touches. [But I think] we not only captured the dynamic musical range of T&T, but the soul of the band.


To me, a Trini is someone who instinctively knows rhythm. And uses humour as a defence mechanism.


Trinidad and Tobago, to me, is a golden land whose extraordinary potential is yet to be fully explored. Although it has been imagined and reimagined by so many.


Check the music out: https://terrenaissance.com/