By Ron Shillingford
It may be freezing in London but Cayman reggae star Stuart â€œDaddy Stuâ€ Wilson has a fire in his belly to establish himself in the U.K. which is why he has been based there for the past year.
â€œI am here in London, basically expanding my brand,â€ he says after playing an hour-long set at the Dublin Castle bar in Camden, one of the coolest places in the capital to perform. That was last Saturday night and Wilson was well received by an appreciative crowd, many hearing for the first time all his own compositions - and loving it.
â€œIâ€™m also spreading out a bit throughout Europe,â€ he says. â€œI think London is a gateway to the rest of the world. I can reach Africa fairly easily from here and South-East Asia too.â€
He initially did open mics before some acoustic gigs. This one was the first full revue with a backing band. â€œFrom henceforth Iâ€™ll be using the band for all the gigs I do.â€ Wilson writes, arranges and puts up the money for all his gigs.
So far, he has performed all over London, including Brixton, Kensal Rise, Willesden and busked in Oxford Circus which was quite lucrative. â€œI could just do busking and make a living from it, because there are so many people in the city,â€ he says. â€œOne of the great things about London is that it is so cosmopolitan and you can reach so many people. I could play every night here if I wanted to.â€
Songs that are well received include â€˜Rule the worldâ€™, â€˜Three kingsâ€™, â€˜Real comeback storyâ€™ and â€˜Leroyâ€™. â€œI find that people really dig the music here.â€
Throughout December Wilson will spend his time recording in a studio with two new singles ready for January. â€œIâ€™ve got quite a vast mailing list now and my social media is always expanding as well. I want to satiate the people who are following me now with some new material.â€
For the foreseeable future, he is remaining in the Big Smoke â€œbecause London really has a lot of character and the people love the musicâ€. He has spent plenty of time performing in Jamaica and adds: â€œJamaica is always in the mix because Iâ€™ve got people who I work with there. Theyâ€™re irreplaceable, theyâ€™re not expendable. So, I will have to find them again at some point.â€
Wilson lives in Bromley, south London. To pay bills he is a tour guide at Madame Tussaudâ€™s the waxwork museum full of famous people. â€œIâ€™m an attractions host and I love it.â€ Could he be honoured there as a statue one day? â€œMaybe, but my thing is that Iâ€™m not really looking out for that. Right now, I just want to play some good music, stay in good shape and continue to build on what Iâ€™ve been doing. Whatever happens around that is really a bonus because Iâ€™m having the time of my life right now.â€
The 39-year-old artist comes from Prospect Park in George Town â€œwhich is kind of like a melting pot because Prospect is made up of so many different nationalities. Itâ€™s a good opportunity for a musician to get an international influence. My music has been influenced by so many people Iâ€™ve met in my life and all the various personalities and essences that have affected me is innumerable.â€
Wilson used to perform Bob Marley covers but dropped that from his repertoire. â€œThis is deliberate, because I feel that Bob has done enough. Heâ€™s also got his kids out there to represent him. I would like to pay homage to him by taking his influence and building on his success and using that as inspiration for what Iâ€™m doing. I also love Peter Tosh because he always used to say: â€˜Play your own stuff, thereâ€™s enough room for everyone.â€™ Thereâ€™s a place for my songs in the big song.â€
His advice to any Caymanians considering going to London to boost their performing careers is to â€œtake a leap of faith, learn to play an instrument because it really helps and you can use your instrument as a springboard to bring other people in to what youâ€™re doing. And even if the band is not as tight as you want them to be, if youâ€™ve got your instrument, it doesnâ€™t matter you can just stay out front and shine. Travel, donâ€™t be afraid, the world is a big place and you want to see and do as much as you can in the time you have.â€