Most people discover they are creative during childhood – David Hamilton's journey started in his mid-20s. But that didn't stop him from rapping in a Trini accent, releasing a pretty good album and eventually becoming the CEO of his own recording studio, Future Crab Studios.
For the first episode of We Are Crayons - The Podcast, we sit down with David to talk about music, culture and his penchant for doing things passionately and always a little differently.
Listen and enjoy. There’s some light reading for you as well.
How do you define creativity and what does it mean to you?
Creativity is essentially problem-solving. I'm also a software developer with ten years experience, so I see parallels between figuring out a bug in some code and figuring out the perfect word to rhyme with "carnival" that resonates and isn't "bacchanal". There are many different ways to find the solution, and creativity is finding the best one for a particular moment.
How much of your creative ability do you think is innate? Or is your creativity a skill that you have developed?
I think the innateness of creativity boils down to the love you have for it. I definitely lean on the side of it being developed. When I was younger I didn't consider myself creative at all. I never participated in any music competitions in school, I couldn't draw and I was far from the artsy type. But sometime in UWI, I fell in love with the process of creating music and just starting rapping and writing songs and never looked back. It was trial and error, successes and failures but I kept learning, growing and staying in the game and I'm still going. Nothing but the love kept me on the treadmill.
When did you realise that you wanted to express your creativity? Was it encouraged by others (e.g., parents)?
My family has a lot of creative people. My Uncle Michael plays cuatro and other instruments by ear. My late Grandfather had a piano in his house which he played to the delight of guests. My late Aunt Kathleen was the principal at my primary school and she taught me how to play the piano. She also enlisted me in the choir at a young age and had me acting in school plays. I learned how to write a drama script from those experiences. My parents didn't actively encourage me but they didn't discourage me either. We grew up with an air of, "You can be whatever you want" once you get your education. Currently, with my music studio Future Crab Studios, they have been very encouraging and instrumental.
What is your standard for evaluating your creative work and the works of other people? Do you think that monetary rewards can be compatible with creativity in general? Are financial rewards relevant to your projects?
I evaluate creativity by how it makes me feel. With music, I'm a bit more knowledgeable in terms of judging production, vocals etc., but with art, it's all in the feeling. I definitely think financial rewards are compatible, but the way it's implemented like some aspects of the Soca Monarch competition can have a negative effect on creativity. But artistes need to eat and in the absence of other sources of income, monetary rewards can provide a path to progress.
Do you think your perception and evaluation of your creative endeavours are influenced by the views of other people? What role do you believe the culture that you live in plays in your creative efforts?
Me personally, no. I like what I like and I don't really regard what other people think. That's just how I am.
In terms of the culture that I live in, it has a significant influence on my art. On a basic level, it has shaped who I am. This is why since I started as a hip hop artiste, my music has been about the Trinidadian experience using Trinidadian twangs and slangs. As a Rapso artiste now, I would like to push this culture on a global scale.
Does your creative work come easily or do you struggle with your ideas? What obstacles (if any) do you experience when you are creating? If you do face obstacles, how do you get past them?
My work comes easily. I'm known for writing songs very fast and my motto is ‘don't overthink it', so my method is to produce a lot of content and pick the best. I also work in bursts, I'm not the ‘all night in the studio' type so I tend to work when my mind is refreshed. Most of my obstacles come when I'm tired or frustrated and in those cases, I take some time off and then resume when I'm in an optimal frame of mind.
Is there something that you do to put yourself into a creative state of mind? If so, what? How do you make the leap from a "Spark" in your head to the action you produce?
Not really. I don't really need anything. Anything I see or people I talk to just inspire me and I will normally jot down ideas to develop later. I'm kinda business-like about it in that I can be creative on command. When I decide I need to write songs I just go and write songs until I have the songs I need. If for the studio we need an idea, depending on the scope I give myself some days until it comes.
Was the way you express your creativity now always your ambition? If so, when did you know for sure?
It wasn't until I was like 24 or so. I dabbled but my cousin Natasha, who works in the music industry in the UK, indirectly convinced me to pursue music seriously. But even after that, I questioned myself many times and three years ago I reached a crossroads where I was tempted to give up music for good. It was only until I tried to visualize my life without music and saw how depressing that would be that I committed 110%, starting with the acquisition of Future Crab Studios alongside Ravi Maharaj and Kit Joseph. And I haven't wavered since.
What has been the most significant sacrifice you have made for your craft?
I've spent a lot of money on music over the years. I've made some of it back which is a blessing, but I haven't broken even yet. But honestly, it doesn't seem like a sacrifice. It's like, what else would I have spent it on? Clothes? A car (I didn't own one for years)? I haven't got it back monetarily yet but music has given me so many gifts in terms of fans, the respect of peers, the appreciation of a crowd and a catalogue of music that will exist after I'm gone. And now with the recording studio, I get the opportunity to also help other artistes, something I get a lot of joy and fulfilment from doing.
Which creative people do you admire? Why?
I admire Lil Wayne because of the amount of work he puts out. If it was up to me, I would love to be able to release that much content but I have to put certain things in place first. Kanye is on my blacklist right now but I admire how he can pull different people together for a singular vision on a project. That's what I try to do with my music. I also admire Machel and what he has done for local music and his hunger to stay on top. He's been in the game almost all his life and he still gets excited to create. Outside of music, I admire Leonardo Da Vinci, Steve Jobs, Shigeru Miyamoto, Lebron James, Elon Musk among others.
Who or what has helped you to persevere and not quit?
I think in our society forces are always on you to quit. A result must come quick. Even loved ones can inadvertently put pressure on you without knowing. To be honest I think it's my love for it that has kept me doing it. And God. I haven't had the type of success to unanimously justify my journey so I don't really try to explain it too much to anyone. I just keep pushing.
Do you believe that it is essential to be accepted by others as being creative or is just doing what you love to do enough to justify your work? Explain.
Acceptance I think is essential because all creatives, I believe, want people to appreciate their work. Musically, if people didn't like what I was doing I probably would have quit. But early on I received encouragement from listeners so that inspired me to keep going. So if you want your artiste to keep going, let them hear your appreciation. And buy some music too nah.
Has rejection ever affected your creative process? Explain.
Yes. I put it in a song hahaha. It inspires some fire music.
Have you ever doubted your talent? If so, how did you work through your doubt?
Doubting of talent is constant. As my career goes on I expect it and just roll with it. I try to stay even-keeled, not too high or too low. After a good performance you feel like you're the best ever; after a bad one, you want to quit. Now I try to just stay balanced.
In addition, anything new is daunting. I had to write a screenplay for my upcoming movie that is accompanying my newly released album ‘Mogul Music', and I felt overwhelmed initially. But I did some research, read some books and I was fine.
What piece of work are you most proud? Why?
I'm most proud of my latest album ‘Mogul Music'. It's the first album I recorded totally in my studio and mixed and mastered there as well by Ravi Maharaj aka a_phake. I believe it's my best work. So far it has only been released to my closest fans because I'm releasing it officially next year alongside a movie that is based on the concepts of the album. When the movie comes out next year I believe a lot of people will share my opinion.
What is your ultimate creative goal and how attainable do you think it is?
My goal is to spread our culture globally through music. Acquiring my own recording studio was the first step of the plan. I'm working with a talented production group called Ballistik, and that's the second step. Very soon we plan to form a label and we have almost signed our first artiste. Third step. The steps are there in my mind, so it's more than attainable. Also, my brother and artiste who I manage Daniel Hamilton is going to change the game in a big way and is a key part of attaining this goal.
What is the best advice you've received that helped you move forward on your creative journey?
"Don't give up". I've heard it since I was small and it sounds corny but it's the best advice I know. I read a lot of biographies of famous and successful people and that's the one common thread. Not what time they get up or what they eat or whether they sleep three hours a night or ten. It's just the ability to keep going when the chips seem down.
To a young Creative emerging in your field, what advice would you give them?
I would say to them, make sure you love what you're doing first. There is no overnight lasting success. There is an overnight success, not lasting. If you want to last and feed your family from it, then you have to put in the time and effort. If it's too much for you, quit while you're ahead. I've spent lots of time and money on music and it doesn't feel like a burden at all. I feel like the luckiest person to have been involved in it.
For what would you like to be most remembered?
I would like to be remembered for pushing the culture forward. Like Sparrow, Kitchener, Machel, Super Blue and that ilk. I haven't done anything to reach that category yet but I'm working on it.
If you were a crayon, what would be the name of your colour?
My colour would be sky blue. I like having something in common with the sky on a clear day. It holds a lot of promise.
A huge thank you to David for joining us on our maiden voyage into the world of podcasting. Please connect and follow his progress on Facebook and Instagram. Check out and purchase his new album Mogul Music on his website or also accessible on all digital music platforms click here for the list.
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All photos by: Nikeisha Joseph