When one thinks of the world of Urban Music, Regina is not exactly among the first cities that leap to mind, but producer Miguel “Tha’ Remedy” Dey is poised to change that.
Dey, 25, has only been in the music business since 2005, but he is already catching industry attention with a job offer from an up-and-coming eastern label and producer creds with an artist who was nominated for a Canadian Indie Award and a Canadian Radio Music Award this year.
In short, he appears to be on the fast-track to success even though his involvement in music production was almost accidental.
“I originally wanted to be a gaming guy,” Dey says. “I was working on a game and I didn’t have any music for my game and I couldn’t find anything that really suited so I decided I would make my own.”
Despite a musical background limited to a few piano lessons at the age of thirteen, Dey quickly put together a soundtrack for his game. Then he showed it to some rapper friends who liked his beats and said they wanted to rap over them. Dey started putting together a few tracks and found his calling.
“I always liked music, but growing up I never said ‘I want to be a producer,’ I just kind of fell into it and I really fell in love with the whole production thing.”
And although he completely abandoned his game development activities, he says it helped prepare him for the music business.
“It’s kind of the same kind of thought process that goes into it, but the end product is a lot different. I consider myself an artistic guy, but I think making music allows me to express myself more than video games and stuff like that.”
When Dey moved back to Regina from Kindersley in 2005, he started his own label, Propagate Records, producing local acts such as Topwise, XL, Pimpton and Blazin Nativez.
His moniker, “Tha Remedy,” was a response to what Dey considers the generic, packaged homogeneity of current Pop music.
“I think music has changed on the whole,” he says. “I wouldn’t say it’s horrible, but it’s not like how it used to be, in my opinion, so I created the name of Remedy because I would like to bring back the feeling that you get when you hear new music.”
Over the next three years, Tha’ Remedy promoted himself relentlessly, almost entirely through MySpace, picking up sporadic work from as far away as the U.K. and southern United States in addition to his local gigs.
“It’s a struggle, though, I work 16 hour days and most of it goes into promotion, making videos, sending my links around, emails, that’s where most of my time goes.”
In 2008, the hard work paid off, though, when Urban Heat Legends CEO Miguel “The Crazy Mexican” Lopez was searching for a producer to finish Montreal R&B Diva Addictiv’s debut album.
“(Lopez) found Remedy’s MySpace page and he really felt what he heard and the rest is pretty much history,” says Ron Ingram, Urban Heat COO.
It was not an accident, however. Ingram says he and Lopez have rarely encountered someone as savvy as Tha’ Remedy. “He’s real. He doesn’t try to play anybody. He’s a really smart guy and when he works he’s really into it.”
One of Dey’s innovations that caught Urban Heat’s attention was streaming his studio sessions live on MySpace.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever seen that,” Ingram says. “He really knows how to grind.”
But it wasn’t just Remedy’s intelligence and work ethic Urban Heat was down with, it was also his sound.
“I grew up in the eighties and his sound’s got a bit of an eighties feel to it while still being new and current,” Ingram notes.
Remedy attributes his aural panache to his rural Saskatchewan roots (he didn’t even discover Hip Hop, R&B and Rap until he was in his late teens.)
“I grew up in Kindersley where it’s all Rock ‘n Roll and Country,” he says. “When I’m doing these Hip Hop beats and R&B beats I take the music I grew up on and that kind of comes out in the music that I’m doing. It brings those elements together and has a kind of unique sound to it.”
A diverse cultural background probably didn’t hurt, either. Tha’ Remedy’s mother is from Jamaica and his father hails from Guyana.
Once Urban Heat and Dey connected, the company flew him out to Montreal to work with Addictiv, a mainstay of the La Belle Ville’s R&B scene who is rapidly emerging as a potential Pop superstar. The company was not disappointed with their decision.
“I’ve sat through his sessions and I’ve seen how diligent he can be and when he gets an idea it’s amazing to listen to how he breaks it down and how it comes out.”
“I don’t try to do something many consider the industry sound,” Remedy explains. “I try to do something you wouldn’t normally hear on the radio, something different. You know, catch people’s attention.”
And catching people’s attention he is. Addictiv’s latest single Just Breathe quickly achieved regular rotation on MuchMusic, rapidly climbed the Canadian Pop charts and her album (still in production) was picked up by major label Universal Music Group.
The only question now is what comes next for Miguel Dey.
“Today, Tha' Remedy is focusing on production/songwriting for independent artists [who] wish to have a more commercial sound,” his MySpace site reads. “He does, however, have his eyes set on breaking into the mainstream market eventually.”
He may not have to wait long. Urban Heat is currently opening a satellite office in Toronto and wants Dey full time.
“We have invited Miguel to come down and head up the A/R division,” Ingram says.
But Tha’ Remedy is a Saskatchewan boy who has strong Regina roots.
“All my family and all my friends are here,” he says. “I haven’t decided yet on whether I’m going to stick here and do my own thing.”
He does have prospects here. Videos and audio tracks Tha’ Remedy has produced are slowly but surely chipping away at local and provincial television and radio airwaves and Pimpton’s 2008 album, The Newer Testament, appears to have some legs.
Dey is also currently working with Keshia Angeline, a 17-year-old chanteuse with a serious set of pipes.
“She’s a very talented singer,” he says.
Whether he goes or stays, Tha’ Remedy looks forward to a time when he doesn’t have to grind all the time.
"I’m trying to balance it so I have more time to make the actual music.”