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Soca singer Ms Desire is switching up her style

BEING BOLD: Ms Desire is revealing a new side to her self with her latest single Anything You Want

MS DESIRE has returned with a new song and a slightly new sound with single Anything you Want. While she hasn’t ditched the catchy soca vibes, she’s revealing a side of herself that she’s previously held back in her music. Despite soca’s notoriety for innuendo and her stage name, Desire had until now been reluctant to create and share a song that was this explicitly sensual as she feared being boxed in.

“Bajan soca and soca in a whole is not very shy about speaking about sexual content but for me as an artist, I’ve always shied away from it per se. Obviously I have songs that have sexual references but they’re never so in your face and so bold,” she told The Voice.

She added: “In terms of soca it’s not a problem but, for myself, I was kind of like, am I going to be boxed into this ‘sex sells artist’ or stuff like that.”

Sharing her thoughts on her latest release, Desire, whose real name is Louise Sterling-Jackman, said: “It’s really, really sensual...sexy soca.”

Her confidence in switching up her style stems partly from growing up, rejecting outdated taboos around women being outspoken and experiences at flagship soca events overseas. “When I went to Miami Carnival I found the American culture there very, very different from the UK culture. Their women are very bold and they will go and they will tell men exactly what they want.

“I was like, ‘oh this is very inspiring, I’m gonna see if I can write something along these lines’,” she said.

Growing up in London and spending extended periods in Barbados has naturally impacted her music in other ways, meaning she’s influenced by the sounds of both the UK and the Caribbean. But Desire’s previous reservations for experimenting outside of her comfort zone are understandable considering that this is often something only major artists can afford to do without risking alienating their entire fanbase.

“I find that once you have a core following as an artist you are able to experiment safely because your fans are already with you and then they will go with you where you’re going musically. But obviously as an upcoming artist you kind of have to spend a lot of time developing your sound for your core audience for them to then want to follow,” she said.

For the culture

While Dancehall’s presence can be widely heard in today’s popular music and the genre has repeatedly successfully penetrated mainstream charts, the same cannot be said for soca, at least not on the same scale. But still, the two are often conflated by those with little or no knowledge of the iconic Caribbean sound. It’s an issue Desire has personal experience of.

“Even when I go on BBC they’ll be like, ‘oh so what is soca?’ and they might like play two old school soca songs,” she said laughing.

“I think it’s definitely harder to [breakthrough] from a soca background because firstly soca is not hugely mainstream. Not everybody knows about soca. As much as there [are] tens of thousands of people flocking to carnival, it’s still not a mainstream thing. And definitely in London, people will only talk about carnival during the month of August when it’s Notting Hill Carnival so it’s harder in a sense for us soca artists to find a fit all year round or outside of the carnival season,” she added.

Outside of music, Desire is flying the flag for soca and Caribbean culture on multiple fronts. Her Notting Hill Carnival band Infinite Mas will be celebrating it's fifth year on the road next year; and noticing a gap in the market, she established Desire and Aspire, a creative agency that specialises in working with Caribbean-focused talent.

“We offer services like digital marketing, project management, talent management. It kind of came about because obviously I needed to have an entity that managed Ms Desire and in the UK it’s quite hard to find agencies or labels that even understand the format that I’m trying to put out so I just thought, you know what, seeing as I know what it is, let me do it. And it’s just taken off,” she said.

Desire and Aspire counts the Miss Barbados UK beauty pageant and Bajan DJ and winner of Red Bull’s 2016 3Style competition DJ Puffy among its clients.

“I say it’s where business meets culture because there’s loads of stuff from the islands or even America that has like a cultural connotation that want to come over here and do business or do stuff like that but they don’t have an agency that understands their needs as a niche product,” Desire said.

Find out where to catch Ms Desire performing next at www.msdesiremusic.com

You can listen to Anything you Want here.

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