From the minute they all walked in the room, you can tell these guys just vibe. With experience spanning years, genres, languages, and instruments, these four musicians truly have it all. They are extremely humble, passionate creatives who, to put it simply, just live and breathe music. The men I’m speaking about are: RadioClub, comprised of pop legend Shawn Desman and country music star Tebey; Alx Veliz, a Latin dance artist; and Altur Santos, the saxophone playing ball of energy. Together, they created the smash hit song “Hey Now” (Iko Iko).
The Making of “Hey Now” (Iko Iko)
It just so happened that one day, Desman was listening to some music and the original version of Iko Iko came on. It got him thinking, no one had ever done anything with this track before. Adding a modern spin on this 1980s classic felt right in that moment. So, Desman called up his RadioClub partner Tebey and pitched the idea. As they started playing with the lyrics and the melody, they soon realized that the track was lacking one big element: a punch of Latin flavour.
Enter: Alx Veliz and Altur Santos.
Desman and Veliz knew each other from Universal Music, when they were both signed to the label. Veliz remembers getting the call from Desman about the track, and said it was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up. He went over to Desman’s home studio and started writing with RadioClub. Shortly after, Veliz brought Santos onto the project, injecting the perfect energy into this party hit.
Seeing it all come together… WE tOOK 3 different artists, WITH 3 different vibes and put it all on one record.tebey on collaborating for “Hey now” (iko iko)
Once in the studio, the rest was magic. Each of the guys describe the feeling of creating the song and just how perfectly the stars aligned. All of the artists are extremely passionate about making music that speaks to them, and on this track, it definitely shows. How can you not get up and dance?
With plans to (hopefully) get the chance to perform “Hey Now” (Iko Iko) in the near future, for these guys, this is only the beginning.
The Best Friend Duo: RadioClub
Desman and Tebey originally met back in 2003. Sharing a manager at the time, the two were put into a room together to write songs for Desman’s second English album. Together, they wrote the smash hit that we all know and love to this day: Let’s Go. Since then, the two have become great friends, working together several times over the years.
A few years ago, Tebey came to Desman with an idea. to write and produce the music that speaks to them, without worrying about anything but the integrity of the track. Their first song — a remix of Never Gonna Give You Up — is sitting at over 10 million views. Not too shabby for their first song out the gate I would say. From there, the two have collaborated with a number of artists, have performed, and produced a number of songs that seamlessly blend a diverse range of musical styles.
Born in Toronto as Shawn Fernandes, later dubbed as Shawn Desman, is without a doubt a Canadian pop/R&B music icon. Getting his start in the music industry recording Portuguese music from the age of 9, he transitioned into the English music scene to diversify his musical portfolio. He dropped his self-titled breakthrough album in 2002, which featured smash hits like “Shook,” and “Get Ready.” His second album in 2003, earned him a Juno Award for Best R&B Recording. For Shawn, he sees himself as a musician, not an icon.
Music has been my life. I don’t know anything else…i’m just a guy who makes music, because i love music.Shawn desman on his journey as a musician.
Desman is not only a musician, but a writer, producer, dancer, and all-around amazing performer. He counts himself very blessed to be able to do continuing doing what he loves on a day-to-day basis. I was personally struck by how humble and kind he really is.
Born and raised in Ontario, Tebey (pronounced: Tay-Bay), is a Platinum selling artist, award winning producer, and extremely accomplished songwriter. Throughout his career, he’s written songs for huge names including: One Direction, Flo Rida, Justin Moore, Emerson Drive, Cher, and many more. In his own right, he is an amazing country music artist with his new EP “The Good Ones” getting rave reviews from The Rolling Stones Magazine. For Tebey, it’s always about the music.
For him, the most important lesson he learned throughout his life was the importance of family, and that kids grow up really fast. You have to cherish the moments as they come, and appreciate the people you love.
RadioClub is set to spend some time in Sweden, working with some of their favourite writers, and continuing to produce music they love.
Alx Veliz and Altur Santos
Alx Veliz and Altur Santos met several years ago. As Santos tells it, he followed Veliz on Instagram after seeing him one night at a show. But it wasn’t until an event last year that Veliz was able to see that star that Santos is. He immediately signed him to a management deal, and the rest is history.
Alx Veliz, born and raised in Toronto, has been performing music since he was 10 years old. At 12, he became the director of his church band, leading members more than twice his age in song. It was there that he learned the importance of authenticity, and the connection between performer and audience. At the end of the day, everyone is looking for that connection with an artist. On stage, he strives to always be vulnerable with his performances.
i take a lot of pride in my live performances…it flows naturally. I had the ultimate test leading a bunch of people towards that spiritual encounter with god.alx veliz on his experience singing in the gospel band.
Veliz was signed to Universal Music in 2015, and his debut hit “Dancing Kizomba” topped Billboard charts almost immediately. Later going on to tour the world with the likes of Nick Jonas and more. Recording in both English and Spanish, it has always been important to Veliz not only to honour his Guatemalan and Jamaican heritage, but to shine a light on Latin-Canadian music, paving the way for others in the genre to gain success mainstream.
Veliz is inspired by artists who push the envelope in with their music. Artists like: Bob Marley, Michael Jackson, Major Lazor, Daddy Yankee and Bruno Mars are among his top 10. For him, he loves when artists are able to create something unexpected, that makes you stop what you are doing to appreciate the track fully.
The most important lesson he has learned throughout his career, is to always stay humble. Never take anything for granted, and diversify as much as possible.
This Dominican born musician is the youngest of the group, but certainly not inexperienced. Coming from an extremely musical family, it’s all he has ever known. His mother was a trumpet player, and that inspired him to learn the saxophone. By age 14, Santos was playing saxophone professionally, working with musicians and doing solo gigs. Coming to Canada almost 5 years ago, he has been working diligently to make a name for himself as a Latin artist.
Santos is also an avid content creator. He loves shooting videos for himself and others, as well as graphic design. I must admit, Santos has the most amazing energy in the room. His laugh is infectious, his smile unwavering, it’s just all around good vibes. His passion and love for what he does is evident at all times. With new music set to drop before the end of 2021, we are SO excited to see what this amazing young artist has in store for us.
But don’t let that serious look fool you…we could barely get him to keep a straight face. He’s all smiles from ear to eat, at all times.
A Year in Lockdown: Life Slows Down–and they’re okay with that
For Veliz and Santos, spending a year in lockdown was a blessing in disguise. Getting an opportunity to stand in one place for a while, they were both able to appreciate the relationships in their lives and spend time with those that they love.
For Veliz, his family grew during lockdown to include an adorable baby boy, Jackson. Having tried for several years to conceive, it was only when the couple had an opportunity to relax during 2020 that their miracle was born.
Santos took the time in lockdown to pause and check in with himself. He has been working in the music industry non-stop since the age of 14. So, the opportunity to take a break and reconnect with himself, was something the artist didn’t necessarily know he needed, but has made him stronger than ever. He also learned that everything happens for a reason. At the end of the day, time rules all and even though it sometimes doesn’t feel like it, you’re always right where you are supposed to be.
The Canadian Music Industry
It’s a shame really when you think about it. These four extremely talented men are so passionate about what they do…and yet all have had to go outside of Canada to find mainstream success in their chosen field.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…
Canada is to the Music Industry, what Dominican is to professional Baseball. Hands down.STEVEN BRANCO, EDITORIAL DIRECTOR
Just look at how many Canadians are topping the charts…but yet, why is it that Canadian talent has to somehow make it into the US to really make their mark. Canada is clearly a breading ground for amazing artists.
The Canadian music industry, while it has come a long way, is not perfect. One of the major reasons why Veliz tells us that he took Santos under his wing, was so he would be able to avoid the mistakes Veliz made over the years. The infrastructure just isn’t there to support Canadian artists IN Canada, he says.
If you need proof of this, just look to Tebey. He left Canada at an early age to move to Nashville, where he currently resides, in order to pursue a career in country music. For Veliz and Santos, the market for Latin/R&B music is in Miami. It’s a commonly accepted notion that if you are a Canadian artist, you have to be signed in the US if you want mainstream success.
At the end of the day, it’s up to us as Canadians to support our local artists. Buy their music. Go to their concerts and watch Canadian produced television. Because, the talent in Canada is astounding, and they shouldn’t have to look outside their home to be “successful.” So the least we can do is support local.
Life Outside the Music Industry
While everyone is grinding hard on their own projects, they all agree that diversity in life is important. Sports, for instance, is something that all four men are passionate about. For Tebey, football and hockey have always been staples in his life. But more recently, he’s taken a page from Veliz’s book and gotten really into soccer. Santos on the other hand, loves playing and watching basketball.
Veliz also has a number of side hustles that he works on. The most notable being the clothing line he owns with his wife, Rebelz and Saintz.
Desman co-owns a dance studio and runs “MOVE dance competition,” although they’ve come to a halt in 2020 due to the pandemic. This year, MOVE launched as a virtual competition and already has dates set for 2022, in person–and he can’t wait to get back out there.
Toronto is, and always will be, Home.
Toronto has truly become an iconic city on the international stage. According to Veliz, we are culture shapers here in The 6ix. Because of the vast diversity, we are heavily involved in shaping modern pop culture in Canada. Veliz’s favourite thing about the city is the cuisine. As a foodie, he has a number of restaurants that he loves to visit, and is always down to try something new.
Currently living in Vaughan, Veliz loves the suburban feel close to the city. As a self-proclaimed small town man, don’t be surprised when Veliz picks up and moves to his very own farm to live off the land.
For Altur, life is so much faster in Toronto than it was in the Dominican. His favourite part of the city is right downtown near the Rogers Center. Right in the middle of all the action. His favourite bar is Lavelle, as he describes it it is where he can relax above the city. Lavelle transports you to a different space.
Toronto will always be home, where Shawn and his family still reside and Tebey returns to frequently.
Creative/Fashion Direction and Producer: STEVEN BRANCO; Photography: NICK MERZETTI; Fashion Assistant: ALANNA DUSSIAUME; Production Manager and Contributor: MERRILL FLYNN; Lighting Assistant: BRANDON JAMES; Grooming + MAKEUP: ANGELA LEE; Production Assistance and BTS Photography: PATRICK CONCEPCION; Location: CONCORD ADEX SKYBRIDGE SUITE. A special thank you to GOTSTYLE and Melissa Austria, NORDSTROM CANADA, and ALDO SHOES for their continued support.
Originally published: August 9, 2021