His government name is Seumas Keelan Callendar but since he emerged on the soca scene, everyone has come to know him as Flipo.
Now, the honey-voiced artist is going by another name, Azaryah.
“Flipo was a childhood nickname. The new name is just a matter of growth, showing the maturity in the music,” he said during a visit with Loop.
Azaryah changed his name about a year ago, following the 2017 Carnival season.
“I just decided that I want to stand in my purpose and everything I learnt and the vibration of the name, it means Yahweh has helped,” he explained, noting that he is and has always been very spiritual.
Azaryah said the name change also allows him to break out of the box people may have created in their minds about him when he debuted on the soca landscape with “Doh Tell Me That”.
“Before I came out as Flipo people knew me on the underground and people knew I could rap, chant, sing, produce and write. I think the name change also opened a space for me to show the other side of what I have been doing,” he said.
According to his bio, Azaryah started his musical journey at the age of 15 in secondary school where he was introduced to the producing software Fruity Loops 3.
Three years later he signed to Pro Records, a Hip Hop label, with his first single ‘Another Murder’, which was a commentary on the murder rate at the time.
He opened for T Pain and Keyshia Cole as part of the Pro Records team for Summerfest 2008 and has sung with the Ricky Bobby Band. In 2012 he was approached by Dre Skull, the US-based producer for Vybz Kartel to write for two records.
His debut soca landed him in the top ten of the Swedish National Radio, top 100 songs of 2013. In 2014, EDM supergroup Major Lazer did a remix of ‘Doh Tell me That’.
That collaboration began a relationship between the artist and the group which has resulted in Azaryah’s latest single ‘Love Life; which Billboard described as a bright and polished bit of dancehall pop.
The song is featured on Major Lazer’s soundtrack for the documentary Give Me Future, based on their historic concert in Cuba.
Billboard said: “The island-rhythm is easy-going and uplifting, featuring vocals from Trinidadian singer, rapper and performer Azaryah. No doubt it reflects the joy and accomplishment the trio felt when it managed to pull off the island nation's first-ever, large-scale dance music event.”
And according to Rolling Stone, the song is "Peppered with danceable island grooves, the rhythmic tune celebrates the feel-good emotions of being in the presence of someone you love. "So unique heaven sent/ Perfection in the elements you represent," Azaryah sings. "The air you breathe, a force is felt/ You bring me blessings."
“Major Lazer linked me three years ago. We have been back and forth since the “Doh Tell Me That” remix. I wrote the song on a plane. Diplo hit me up and ask me if I could write something for this beat. When I recorded the song I didn’t hear from them and recently they reached back out for me to cut new vocals because they changed the beat three times. From then to now we finalised the paperwork and released the song. It was featured on Rolling Stone, Billboard and Rolling Stone India,” he said.
Stating that he is happy the song is finally out, Azaryah said the benefits to him of being featured on a Major Lazer album is the exposure it gives him similar to when he collaborated with Bad Royale.
People have been searching for his work online, he said and it has opened him up to other producers from around the world.
“I have been in studio for a year working with producers from France, Holland, Aruba, Germany and the US just working on singles. The aim is to push singles and release music, a song a month,” he said.
Those releases may include soca but Azaryah is not limiting himself to any one genre.
Asked why he didn’t have any releases over the just concluded Carnival season, he said he is a not a Carnival artist.
“I never released for Carnival but I have been doing shows throughout the year. Why should we limit ourselves to two/three months then do the same circuit year after year?” he asked.
From inception, Azaryah has made an effort to distinguish himself from the pack. He does not party, is not a regular personality on the social scene and when it comes to pushing his music overseas, he prefers to run in lanes less occupied.
His manager Seon Isaac explained that from inception, Azaryah knew what he wanted to do so the discussion centred on how they would execute the strategy.
“He started anti-clockwise so he didn’t go to the normal territories everyone else goes,” he said.
Martinique and Guadeloupe were among the first territories Azaryah targeted.
“Yes there is a language barrier there but melodies and lyrics have to be on point. To be able to tap into that...that is why I like not limiting myself to the music. It doesn’t matter what country, I will do research and figure out what their sound is like and just adapt, that sets you apart,” he said.
Through this strategy Azaryah ensures he is always travelling to perform, noting that every year they identify a new territory to penetrate.
For the 27-year-old, music may be his passion but he is very serious when it comes to the business side of things and that is what keeps him focused.
“When I started it was just for the love of music, wanting to have fun, having people enjoy what I do but as I grew to experience the business side of it, it became a lot more serious where you have to secure your future financially and to make music that could resonate with people and just uplift them and send out that love and vibrations for them to know truth,” he said.