Dancehall singjay Kalado is pursuing his childhood dream of being a visual artist.
The Make Me Feel entertainer is pursuing animation studies at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts (EMC).
“Mi inna college now at the moment, at Edna Manley, and mi a try complete this animation thing cause mi waan can animate mi own music videos, cartoonist way,” Kalado revealed on the Entertainment Podcast.
It’s a full circle moment for the singjay who was offered placement at the school as a teenager, but had to decline as his family couldn’t afford it. Raised between Kingston and Clarendon, the artist, whose given name is Eton Gordon, was always creative, making skates, handcarts, and board trucks. He had a particular interest in drawing.
“In school (Edwin Allen High School), I was more into the drawing,” he shared. “Football was more like a second (love), because yeah, I was good at it, but my first love was the drawing. I even got like (grade) one in the whole Caribbean and scholarship fi go Edna Manley and thing… The financial deprive situation was very low, mi never get fi accomplish that goal, so, mi end up distract to pick up another love which was the second choice, music now. So, mi start go pon the road and start deejay.”
Going by the name Veteran, the 15-year-old would deejay while jogging at Kingston’s National Heroes Park to work on his breath control, and circled dub studios to showcase his talent. He soon formed relationships with sound systems, allowing him some microphone time when he frequented community shows. He eventually landed close proximity to dancehall stalwart Bounty Killer, who invited him to the studio that housed his Alliance empire.
After much “bleaching” at the studio without any attention, Kalado decided to “get myself important” and return. The next couple of years would see him undergoing two other monikers, auditioning for the Magnum King and Queens competition, and recording a number of singles at different studios. His efforts finally paid off with recruitment into Bounty’s Alliance Next Generation, and their 2012 collab When She Wine.
Within a year, Kalado was dancehall’s hottest new act, catering to women with tracks like Good Good Bring Life and Body Nuh Dead.
But he isn’t resting in the comfort of success. His decision to return to school came after seeing an increasingly global digital environment, and wanting to compete with the best.
“I could complete a different course there, like the real life painting and these things, but because I realise the world is getting digital, mi seh, ‘No, mi haffi go the digital way’, so, that is why mi challenge the animation part.”
It’s not been an easy journey, since Kalado is more used to drawing still life art and portraits.
“My drawing was always detailed with the shading – realistic life,” he said. “Mi imagine down the river and draw the river and draw back the sea reflect inna it, everything. Dem type a drawing deh and painting mi used to do – real life. Now mi haffi adapt to cartoon. Mi haffi a watch cartoon now and mi never used to even watch cartoon, so, mi haffi start adapt and watch cartoon wid mi likkle son more time, or watch it by myself.”
“Go on the internet and search up some cartoon things and study up Disney and dem things yah. (I have) to know the shapes weh bring happiness and the shapes weh bring anger, all these things mi haffi a study yah now.”
Other Jamaican artists to have pursued studies at the EMC include Romain Virgo and Raging Fyah, except in music.