edge

​Life on a High Note

Picture courtesy Mark Lyndersay

Picture courtesy Mark Lyndersay

My name is Martin “Mice” Raymond and all my work is music.

I got the nickname “Mice” on the first day of form three at Fatima College, after I cut my infamous afro and my glasses broke. A friend said, "Ay - he looking like a mice!" I liked it – it saved all those, "Why do you have two first/last names?" questions. So I told everyone, "Don't call me Mice" – to ensure the name stuck. [Fatima principal] Clive Pantin was probably the only person who didn't call me "Mice".

I come from nowhere in Trinidad. I'm not "Trini to de Bone". I'm an official "Trini-by-boat". I was born in London of Trinidadian and Jamaican parents and came to Trinidad on an actual boat when I was a few months old.

Since I was small, Trinis have found I was "weird" or "different". When they find out I was born in England they say, "Oh. That's why!" When I went back to England in my early 20's, everyone there found I was "weird" or "different". Go figure...

We moved around a lot: Woodbrook, Tunapuna, San Fernando, Woodbrook, Woodbrook, Mucurapo Road. If there is once place I consider "home", it’s Moonstone Drive, Diamond Vale, where I grew up, 1969-77. The Vale was magic then. Even the earth there smelt as if it were freshly-made yesterday. It was almost entirely young families, everyone with kids the same age. We just skipped from house to house. We would all go by the next door neighbour, one of the few houses with a TV on our street, to watch “Soul Train”. Diamond Vale was brand new. I still remember the smell of the bricks, the wood, the vinyl. I remember the neighbourhood being outraged the first time someone put up a [garden] wall. I live in Maraval now.

Let me be diplomatic: I wasn't a big fan of school. But I was good at it.

Some records changed my life: 1976; a house party on Jasper Avenue. The DJ put on this strange record starting with what sounded like acoustic guitars dipped in honey, then veered into a quasi-reggae groove, above which floated a curious tale. “On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair…” Hotel California by the Eagles. I was already a musician, I played the organ, and I HAD to learn that song. I wore out the grooves on the record trying to figure it out but it was completely baffling. Someone wrote the chords down for me - an unfamiliar combination of majors and minors – and I tried it out on the [Fatima church] organ. (I was allowed). It sounded awful. Right there and then I knew I had to learn the guitar.

One day in 1976, my mother Ursula said to me and my brother Afra, sternly, “You all are listening to too much nonsense. Here’s what good music sounds like.” She then revealed Bob Marley’s “Rastaman Vibration” and Third World's “96 Degrees in the Shade” albums. We spent the rest of the evening listening as she explained what the songs were about, snippets of Jamaican history. I listened to “Rastaman Vibration” every single night for many years as I fell asleep.

Picture courtesy Mark Lyndersay1977. A house party two houses away. I went early to watch the DJ set up. Also because I wanted to be there when a girl I was interested in walked in. The DJ - Dane Grell – put on a record to test his system. I was thunderstruck. It sounded like absolutely nothing I had ever heard before. Arpeggiated synthesisers burbled left and right, supported by what were clearly not but still somehow drums, Donna Summer’s voice faded in, echoing, a mere mortal trapped like a cog in a giant, infernal machine. I Feel Love, produced by Georgio Moroder, the first all-electronic record I ever heard, sounded like music done by HAL9000, the evil computer from 2001 a Space Odyssey. I instantly forgot about the girl and just kept asking the DJ to play it again and again. My love affair with electronic music began there and then. I still reference that track in classes to this day. My students are blown away by how fresh this 40-year-old record still sounds.

Boxing Day 1982. I was already a professional musician with the band Fireflight. Someone we knew was having a house party right on Moonstone Drive in the Vale and had the temerity to NOT invite us! Me, my brother and a few friends spent the night liming on some cars right outside the party, drinking ourselves to distraction. Sometime after midnight, a vocoded, ring-modulated voice announced, “Party people! C’mon get funky”. As the 808 drums and orchestra hits of Afrika Bambattaa’s “Planet Rock” kicked in, I sobered up instantly. It was like hearing music from another planet. I knew I was hearing the sound of the future.

Ash Wednesday 1983. I retreated to Mayaro to recuperate after the Carnival. A radio show on 95 showcased new music with no announcers. The first record they played started with an ominous droning sound that I knew came from no synthesiser. Then an 808 drum machine beat kicked in. Followed by a blazing rock guitar riff. Then a high-pitched voice began. Wait a minute! Michael Jackson? On a rock record? With a drum machine? Nah! Then came the guitar solo. That HAD to be Eddie Van Halen! Van Halen? On a Michael Jackson record?

1987. London, I heard a new soca record, “Tumbledown” by Merchant, as produced by Leston Paul, this shuddering, funky Moog bass line, weaving its way through a thicket of break beat-meets-soca electronic drums. I was like. “Finally! THIS is what soca is supposed to sound like!”

Trinidad is the only place I know where artists make records out of fear. There is a massive amount of self-censorship. Compelling creative ideas are quickly stifled to death under a barrage of self-doubt. Of “Yuh cyah do that! What the people go think?” or “Them DJs ain’t going to play that!” Which was the same thing they told Merchant back in 1987.

Ever since I was small, I wanted to be either an archaeologist or an astronaut. Then my mother said I had to be good at maths to be an astronaut. The end of THAT dream. Years later, I realised she was actually trying to encourage me.

My favourite authors are VS Naipaul, Steven King and PJ O'Rourke.

I’m a big fan of “Alice in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass.” Alice laughed. “One can’t believe impossible things.” “I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

I’m a big fan of Chan-Wook Park. Old Boy is a whole other level. That’s what I love about the Korean stuff - they way they effortlessly shift gears. My Love From the Stars is the best period/sci-fi/time-travel-romantic-comedy-tragedy-murder-mystery you’ll ever see! They are remaking it for American television, but will probably fall flat on their faces if they don’t cast Jun Ji-Hyun in her original role.


Angry people, ignorance and ignorant, angry people on Facebook – or in real life – make me miserable. I get cheered up by love in action. Or cats...

Nothing keeps me awake with worry anymore. I’m too tired to worry...

I teach, produce, record, write and write music but teach music production specifically. I have not produced a record for a while (not “flavour-of-the-month” apparently), more master than record.

I work 8am - 8pm, generally. Running the music technology programme at UTT is the main gig these days. I really enjoy teaching and making good music sound great. Despite rumours to the contrary, I have NOT retired from producing, mixing, or mastering. I’m just not able with the last-minute, “It HAVE to be on radio today-today” thing. The music industry in Trinidad is fuelled by deep, deep anxiety. Especially at Carnival time. I think Selvon had a short story about that…

I stopped being a night owl when my daughter was born. I used to work 24-7/365. I didn’t get any richer. The hits didn’t get any bigger. My family did not love me more. Also, too many people in the industry locally are only night owls because they work 8-4 jobs and music is like a hobby. I have met very, very few people (Shadow, Machel, Wyclef) that can function effectively after 2 in the morning.

The best thing about working in music is thinking, “I get paid for doing this!” Hunter S Thompson caught the worst thing: “The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side.”

The best explanation of a Trini I ever heard came from an American record executive in Trinidad for a workshop who had been presented with a series of substandard demos with the excuse, “Sorry about the quality, but is Trinidad.” Eventually, exasperated, he said, “The first time I heard about Trinidad was in 1976, when your guy beat our guy for the Olympic gold medal. Then the year after your girl won Miss Universe. Then another one won Miss World. Then one of your guys won the Nobel Prize. Then another Miss Universe. Then your guy did the Olympic opening ceremony. So when I hear the words “Trinidad & Tobago”, I expect nothing but the best! To be Trini should be a mark of excellence, not an excuse."

To me, Trinidad & Tobago means…Everything!


​Life on a High Note

Picture courtesy Mark Lyndersay

Picture courtesy Mark Lyndersay

My name is Martin “Mice” Raymond and all my work is music.

I got the nickname “Mice” on the first day of form three at Fatima College, after I cut my infamous afro and my glasses broke. A friend said, "Ay - he looking like a mice!" I liked it – it saved all those, "Why do you have two first/last names?" questions. So I told everyone, "Don't call me Mice" – to ensure the name stuck. [Fatima principal] Clive Pantin was probably the only person who didn't call me "Mice".

I come from nowhere in Trinidad. I'm not "Trini to de Bone". I'm an official "Trini-by-boat". I was born in London of Trinidadian and Jamaican parents and came to Trinidad on an actual boat when I was a few months old.

Since I was small, Trinis have found I was "weird" or "different". When they find out I was born in England they say, "Oh. That's why!" When I went back to England in my early 20's, everyone there found I was "weird" or "different". Go figure...

We moved around a lot: Woodbrook, Tunapuna, San Fernando, Woodbrook, Woodbrook, Mucurapo Road. If there is once place I consider "home", it’s Moonstone Drive, Diamond Vale, where I grew up, 1969-77. The Vale was magic then. Even the earth there smelt as if it were freshly-made yesterday. It was almost entirely young families, everyone with kids the same age. We just skipped from house to house. We would all go by the next door neighbour, one of the few houses with a TV on our street, to watch “Soul Train”. Diamond Vale was brand new. I still remember the smell of the bricks, the wood, the vinyl. I remember the neighbourhood being outraged the first time someone put up a [garden] wall. I live in Maraval now.

Let me be diplomatic: I wasn't a big fan of school. But I was good at it.

Some records changed my life: 1976; a house party on Jasper Avenue. The DJ put on this strange record starting with what sounded like acoustic guitars dipped in honey, then veered into a quasi-reggae groove, above which floated a curious tale. “On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair…” Hotel California by the Eagles. I was already a musician, I played the organ, and I HAD to learn that song. I wore out the grooves on the record trying to figure it out but it was completely baffling. Someone wrote the chords down for me - an unfamiliar combination of majors and minors – and I tried it out on the [Fatima church] organ. (I was allowed). It sounded awful. Right there and then I knew I had to learn the guitar.

One day in 1976, my mother Ursula said to me and my brother Afra, sternly, “You all are listening to too much nonsense. Here’s what good music sounds like.” She then revealed Bob Marley’s “Rastaman Vibration” and Third World's “96 Degrees in the Shade” albums. We spent the rest of the evening listening as she explained what the songs were about, snippets of Jamaican history. I listened to “Rastaman Vibration” every single night for many years as I fell asleep.

Picture courtesy Mark Lyndersay1977. A house party two houses away. I went early to watch the DJ set up. Also because I wanted to be there when a girl I was interested in walked in. The DJ - Dane Grell – put on a record to test his system. I was thunderstruck. It sounded like absolutely nothing I had ever heard before. Arpeggiated synthesisers burbled left and right, supported by what were clearly not but still somehow drums, Donna Summer’s voice faded in, echoing, a mere mortal trapped like a cog in a giant, infernal machine. I Feel Love, produced by Georgio Moroder, the first all-electronic record I ever heard, sounded like music done by HAL9000, the evil computer from 2001 a Space Odyssey. I instantly forgot about the girl and just kept asking the DJ to play it again and again. My love affair with electronic music began there and then. I still reference that track in classes to this day. My students are blown away by how fresh this 40-year-old record still sounds.

Boxing Day 1982. I was already a professional musician with the band Fireflight. Someone we knew was having a house party right on Moonstone Drive in the Vale and had the temerity to NOT invite us! Me, my brother and a few friends spent the night liming on some cars right outside the party, drinking ourselves to distraction. Sometime after midnight, a vocoded, ring-modulated voice announced, “Party people! C’mon get funky”. As the 808 drums and orchestra hits of Afrika Bambattaa’s “Planet Rock” kicked in, I sobered up instantly. It was like hearing music from another planet. I knew I was hearing the sound of the future.

Ash Wednesday 1983. I retreated to Mayaro to recuperate after the Carnival. A radio show on 95 showcased new music with no announcers. The first record they played started with an ominous droning sound that I knew came from no synthesiser. Then an 808 drum machine beat kicked in. Followed by a blazing rock guitar riff. Then a high-pitched voice began. Wait a minute! Michael Jackson? On a rock record? With a drum machine? Nah! Then came the guitar solo. That HAD to be Eddie Van Halen! Van Halen? On a Michael Jackson record?

1987. London, I heard a new soca record, “Tumbledown” by Merchant, as produced by Leston Paul, this shuddering, funky Moog bass line, weaving its way through a thicket of break beat-meets-soca electronic drums. I was like. “Finally! THIS is what soca is supposed to sound like!”

Trinidad is the only place I know where artists make records out of fear. There is a massive amount of self-censorship. Compelling creative ideas are quickly stifled to death under a barrage of self-doubt. Of “Yuh cyah do that! What the people go think?” or “Them DJs ain’t going to play that!” Which was the same thing they told Merchant back in 1987.

Ever since I was small, I wanted to be either an archaeologist or an astronaut. Then my mother said I had to be good at maths to be an astronaut. The end of THAT dream. Years later, I realised she was actually trying to encourage me.

My favourite authors are VS Naipaul, Steven King and PJ O'Rourke.

I’m a big fan of “Alice in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass.” Alice laughed. “One can’t believe impossible things.” “I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

I’m a big fan of Chan-Wook Park. Old Boy is a whole other level. That’s what I love about the Korean stuff - they way they effortlessly shift gears. My Love From the Stars is the best period/sci-fi/time-travel-romantic-comedy-tragedy-murder-mystery you’ll ever see! They are remaking it for American television, but will probably fall flat on their faces if they don’t cast Jun Ji-Hyun in her original role.


Angry people, ignorance and ignorant, angry people on Facebook – or in real life – make me miserable. I get cheered up by love in action. Or cats...

Nothing keeps me awake with worry anymore. I’m too tired to worry...

I teach, produce, record, write and write music but teach music production specifically. I have not produced a record for a while (not “flavour-of-the-month” apparently), more master than record.

I work 8am - 8pm, generally. Running the music technology programme at UTT is the main gig these days. I really enjoy teaching and making good music sound great. Despite rumours to the contrary, I have NOT retired from producing, mixing, or mastering. I’m just not able with the last-minute, “It HAVE to be on radio today-today” thing. The music industry in Trinidad is fuelled by deep, deep anxiety. Especially at Carnival time. I think Selvon had a short story about that…

I stopped being a night owl when my daughter was born. I used to work 24-7/365. I didn’t get any richer. The hits didn’t get any bigger. My family did not love me more. Also, too many people in the industry locally are only night owls because they work 8-4 jobs and music is like a hobby. I have met very, very few people (Shadow, Machel, Wyclef) that can function effectively after 2 in the morning.

The best thing about working in music is thinking, “I get paid for doing this!” Hunter S Thompson caught the worst thing: “The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side.”

The best explanation of a Trini I ever heard came from an American record executive in Trinidad for a workshop who had been presented with a series of substandard demos with the excuse, “Sorry about the quality, but is Trinidad.” Eventually, exasperated, he said, “The first time I heard about Trinidad was in 1976, when your guy beat our guy for the Olympic gold medal. Then the year after your girl won Miss Universe. Then another one won Miss World. Then one of your guys won the Nobel Prize. Then another Miss Universe. Then your guy did the Olympic opening ceremony. So when I hear the words “Trinidad & Tobago”, I expect nothing but the best! To be Trini should be a mark of excellence, not an excuse."

To me, Trinidad & Tobago means…Everything!