From an early age, Stixx Mitchell knew that music was his calling: he had rhythm in his fingers and feet, and found a beat, the minute he started playing the drums. Even if (at the time), he could only play his “right foot and left hand.”
Music spoke to his soul—the very depths of it, and lured him in a way that nothing or no one else could.
Stixx, an international drummer, grew up in the city of Castries, where music was the heartbeat.
“Before we moved to the north of the island (he later moved to Bonne Terre), we lived in the CDC so there was always music around: vans passing by, the Salvation Army on the market step—politicians; I was raised on Jeremie Street Castries,” Stixx said to me in an interview on Saturday (April 1).
He developed a love for drumming at age 17, and left Saint Lucia to play professionally at 19.
“I really wanted to play the bass guitar but my left hand was not good on the fretboard and I hated how the piano felt; when I touched it, it felt like Greek,” Stixx said, sharing how it all began.
“I was invited to a pan yard at school by some friends and they wanted me to join to play pan but I wasn’t good at pan. Then one day the guy who actually played the drums, he was not there,as well asa music teacher Mr. Sean Lewis from Trinidad, so I was like let me try and the moment that I held those sticks in my hand, it just felt natural,” he added.
Before he found his big break, Stixx played in a number of bands, eventually securing a job to perform on cruise ships.
“Mr Eldon Payne offered me the opportunity to do cruise ships. I went on ships in 2005 and I worked with his company for four and a half years, performing with various bands and then in 2010 I was offered an opportunity to have my own band,” the self-taught musician said.
He continued: “A business owner was cruising and he heard me. He gave me his information and said if you get three or four other young, talented and disciplined musicians like yourself, I have a job for you.”
He never took him up on his offer.
Later they would reconnect.
“I went to Australia for a few months and then I came back and decided that I was going to take a break from travelling and that’s when Derek (Yarde) was putting DYP together,” the drummer said—he ended up playing for the band but later they parted ways.
Somehow he found “the same piece of paper” which was given to him years ago by the business owner whom he met on the cruise ship.
“I called the gentleman and within two to three weeks I was out of Saint Lucia with my band.We flew to Miami and we started working with Norwegian Cruise Lines; I had my band for about four years and after that we all decided we wanted to take a break. I realized this was the opportune time for me to focus on myself and take advantage of any opportunities that presented itself,” he said.
And later, he would get his big break—he met the Marley family.
“There was this bassplayer (he’s from Jamaica but lives in Manhattan) his name is Derek Barnett. He has played for Ninja Man, Yellow Man, Dennis Brown, Ky-Mani Marley and he was the band leader of Sagittarius back in the day; they played for Bounty Killer, Merciless, Beenie Man and many more. He was following the music festival in Saint Lucia,” Stixx said.
After watching Stixx’s performances online, Derek was impressed. Soon, Stixx was in studio with the bass player,playing on a Dennis Brown record (‘Everything Happens In Its Own Time’),“which made me the very first drummer out of Saint Lucia to play on an international reggae recording,” the drummer said.
Word spread quickly: more and more others in the industry found out about Stixx’s capabilities. And soon word got to the Marley camp.
“Llamar “Riff Raff” Brown reached out to me (Producer/keyboard player for Stephen Marley)—they were doing the ‘Catch A Fire’ tour and he asked me for my information so I could come to the show and next thing you know Stephen Marley had me on his VIP list,” the drummer said.
Shortly after Stixx was introduced to an eight time GRAMMY award winning producer (“Commissioner Gordon” Williams) who needed a session drummer; Stixx got the gig.
Says Stixx: “And that night, that’s where Stephen Marley and Damian Marley had this studio session which was at the same studio and “Riff Raff” was like I want you to meet a few people so I went to the studio and when I got there I greeted Damian and Stephen Marley and I couldn’t believe it: Jr. Gong was spitting on a track, Stephen Marley was at the computer because he’s the producer and Jo MersaMarley walks up to me (Stephen Marley’seldest son) and asked me to go to the drum booth to check out some music.”
And after Stixx played three or four songs it was official: Stixxwas Jo Mersa Marley’s drummer; he was in disbelief.
“Being able to work with Jo Mersa Marley made me the first drummer out of Saint Lucia and the entire Eastern Caribbean to be affiliated with the Marley’s and working with Jemere Morgan (son to Gramps Morgan from the 2016 Grammy Award Winning Reggae Group Morgan Heritage), made me the first drummer out of Saint Lucia to ever tour, perform and play for a Grammy award winning artiste,” he said, truly humbled.
Stixx is endorsed with leading drumhead company Evans Drumheads by D’Addario, In Ear Monitor Company Alclair Audio, SnareWeight, has his “Signature Drumstick Model” with ‘Regal Tip’ “one of the world’s largest manufacturers of drum sticks and other percussion mallets,” (Wikipedia) all out of the United States; he is also an ambassador for “Digicel”.Stixxis also “the very first musician to be featured on international Endorser Rosters on the World Wide Web”, putting Saint Lucia on the map through his gift of music and affiliations with some of the leading companies inthe music industry today.
It is quite the come up for Stixx. FromJeremie Street to international stages, and sold out concerts: it is nothing but surreal.