Chazzi Desriviéres is one of the happiest individuals you will ever meet. A 17-year-old steel pan player from Babonneau, his infectious energy is hard to resist.
I interviewed the young musician on Monday (November 26) and although this was our first time meeting, it felt just the opposite. As he sat across me, he eagerly shared more about his ever-increasing love for the steel-pan.
“I was raised in a musical environment,” he shared.
“My dad (CyrilDesriviéres) is a musician so by the age of two, I was at gigs with him.At the age of four he saw that I had a keen interest in playing and he taught me my first song (‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’ by Elvis Presley.) By the age of five when that specific song came on I’d go to play and one song turned into the whole repertoire,” Chazzi added.
His life revolves around pan; he is utterly in love with the instrument and shared that it brings him immense joy. It shows—when he plays, he dances like nobody’s watching; the music consumes him entirely and his radiant energy translates into his music.
“For me pan really is an escape. When I play it’s just me and my pan— no pain, nothing. When I play I’m happy,” he said, adding that pan made him who he is today.
“I’d probably still be that shy guy if I wasn’t playing,” he said.
‘A Taste of Steel,’ a 12 minute long YouTube video showcases Chazzi’s versatility. In the video Chazzi takes viewers on a steelpan journey, playing songs like ‘If I Ain’t Got You’ by Alicia Keys, ‘Boo’d Up’ by Ella Mai, ‘Just the Two of Us’ by Bill Withers, ‘Family’ by Popcaan, ‘In My Feelings’ by Drake, ‘Give It To Ya’ by Marzville, ‘Vent’ by Teddyson John and more.
The transition is seamless.He explores various genres—old and new, and does an excellent job bringing them to life on the metal instrument.
A member of the Courts Babonneau Steel Orchestra, Chazzi has participated in numerous ‘Panorama’ competitions.
“I’ve been a member for about seven or eight years. Courts really exposed me to a different part of pan; before I just used to play songs,but now we took it to a competitive stage. I was working every night—I was eight at the time I think. I’d never done anything like that so it really exposed me to pan on a different level,” he said.
“Two years later I had ‘Common Entrance’ exams and my mind was on steel pan. Everyone was studying and I was playing steel pan,” he added.
It worked out for him, however.
“That’s the thing— music really strengthens the mind in my opinion. Music for children that’s really an advantage; it keeps you focused,” he said.
The St Lucia School of Music student plays a number of instruments. According to him, “When I was in form one at St. Mary’s College, the School of Music had a school tour and that’s when I enrolled.”
“I started on trumpet. I played it for about two or three years. From there, I learnt sight-reading, music, music theory and then I got braces so I couldn’t play trumpet again,” he said grinning at the old memory.
He continued:“I had to switch to an instrument called the euphonium and I probably played for about one year but I didn’t really like it. When I was in form four, I believe— that’s the point in every child’s life where they think about what they want to do with their future. My passion is music—anybody can tell you that. I started looking at schools and courses and I saw that you needed theory so that’s when I started theory classes at the School of Music.”
Still a student at the School of Music, Chazzi, also plays the drums and shared that he hopes to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Music in the future.
He gets to do what he loves most constantly. The steel pan soloist performs at various functions and hotels, bringing a smile not only to his face, but to many others as well.
He doesn’t get comfortable, however, and practices constantly, as he wants to be the best that he can be.
According to Chazzi, “I either practice or improvise. I may take an hour either learning new songs, or listening to the radio; whatever comes on I play with it. I listen to music all the time asit expands my knowledge. A normal person would just listen to the lyrics,but I listen to the chords and everything in the back.”
There’s something about steelpan that makes the soul come alive; Chazzi, who hopes to become an international performer, knows how to do just that.