Devon Stapleton, better known as Guilda, came by at the Backstage Bastards office to talk about his musical carreer. He told us how he brought his Sint Maarten vibes straight to The Netherlands ‘No Gidi on this side.’
All the way from Sint Maarten
Guilda grew up in Sint Maarten and started to make rapmusic when he was about 15 year old. He got his musical influences through reggae en soca music, but even though he listened to different genres, there was something about hiphop that attracted him. “I don’t know if it was the jewelry or what…” he jokes around.
While growing up, he was always rapping with his cousin. They were watching MTV and other music channels and rapped along with whatever came by. He always remembered the lyrics of rappers like DMX, Ja Rule or Ruff Riders. One day, his cousin challenged him to write his own lyrics. He decided to accept the challenge, and they turned the whole thing into a competition. He remembers this particular moment as one of the reasons why he has a competitive attitude till this day. Whenever he's in the studio, he's like ‘ Okay, cool….but I'm gonna body each one of you'. Besides bringing a good vibe, his forever goal is to write the best verse on the song.
In 2012, he moved to The Netherlands to study International Communicationmanagement. He followed these studies in English and finished with a Bachelor diploma. Right now he focuses on his job, his own music and songwriting for other artists.
A trip to the Netherlands
Moving to The Netherlands was a big cultural shock for him. Especially because it was unplanned. The original plan, was to move to America but at the very last moment that plot twisted. Even his Greencard was ready when his best friend pointed out one minor detail. Compared to Sint Maarten, living in America would be super expensive. He suggested Amsterdam – the other extreme – and told him this would be the affordable choice. He took a second to consider it, but after that it all went super fast. Guilda arranged the documents and he and his best friend flew to Amsterdam. At first, he couldn't get used to the language barrier and the cold weather, but he's in the Netherlands for two years now, and he's slowly finding his way around things. He understands the Dutch language, and he can even make whole sentences, but for now he still prefers to talk English. He's on that tho!
The second cultural shock he encountered was on a musical level. The music industry in the Netherlands works a little different. While living on Sint Maarten he worked at a radio station and everybody knew his music. “It was popping there!” During his time there he build a great network and because of that he got to know different people in the music industry which lead to interesting collaborations worldwide, but also in The Netherlands. DJ Prime and Waxfiend had a big influence on him and his music. ‘They told me I was very dope, but that it would be helpful to adjust my style just a little. Not too much, but just enough to attract a bigger audience. Listening to them actually paid off'.
There are not many people who know that the guilder is still the currency on Sint Maarten, but that's actually where Guilda got his artist name from. Guilda stands for guilder and making some of that wouldn't hurt at all!
A trip to the real Guilda
Despite the reference to money, he mostly makes music for the love of it. It took him a while to settle down in the Netherlands, but now that he found his spot he's constantly busy creating music that reaches the right people, who appreciate the type of music he makes. He mostly mixes his work with Afro influences, and he found out how amazing that works by collaborating with artists like Amartey, Berano and Jay-Way among others. “ With ‘No Gidi’, a song ft. Amartey and Morgan, I was totally out of element. I have now found a comfort zone in which I can make my music and everyone accepts it. It was all about finding a balance.” From this comfort zone Guilda is planning a lot of things.
As an artist and songwriter he spends a lot of time in the studio. “I love the creative process of making music.” Besides spending time in the studio, he also spends a lot of time on stage. He happens to be the host for parties like Encore Amsterdam and Backyard, and through this he also builds a lot of stage experience.
Living in the present
His time in the studio is not wasted! This year, we can expect many singles from Guilda as he already wrote out and planned the whole year. “I don’t even have to write more songs for the year, there is enough to release every month of 2019, but I'm not in a hurry. I am waiting for the right time to push the buttons.”
Though he made a lot of plans, he is not concerned about the future. Where he will be in 5 year is as much of a surprise to him as it is to us. He goes wherever the wind blows. Spirituality is a big deal to him and he is mostly occupied with begin in the here and now. ‘I make being in the now my primairy focus. The present moment is all we have'.
This year we have to be on the look out for Guilda, cause there are a lot of festivals he might be crossing the stage. Just keep a close eye on his socials, and make sure you don't miss out anything, cause word on the streets is he might do a little concert at the end of this year.
We will most certainly keep an eye on his moves, he definitely promises to be a huge succes!
Listen to ‘Find Dem' and follow Guilda on Spotify
Follow Guilda on Instagram