Gareth Stevens interviews the indefatigable music promoter and community organiser. 

Many of you will already be acquainted with the perpetual smile and warm heart of Remi Vibesman. You may have unwittingly attended one of his musical events or might remember how much his plein-air DJ sets brought another dimension to your balmy summer Sunday afternoons on St Leonards beach. Any which way, keep him in mind as he is developing a unique vision for how he might contribute to music in the borough. 

Born in Hendon, North London Remi unexpectedly relocated when his parents decided to move back to their native Nigeria when he was seven years old. Ajegunli is in the heart of Lagos and its name means “A place where riches dwell”. When Remi tells me of his five young years there it is clear that he did indeed find a kind of wealth there. “It was whilst I was a kid in Lagos that I saw the potential for music to enrich and transform communities and uplift people.” He tells me how music ran through everything there; that it was not just a recreation, but was front and centre of everything. In Nigeria, Remi not only found the power of rhythm and dance, but he experienced how music can bring unity and strength to communities and individuals that were experiencing deep hardship.

Sadly Remi’s mother died when he was fifteen, but her legacy to him still runs deep. She left him a ‘can do’ mindset that he says is part of his DNA. Remi cut his musical teeth during the halcyon days when London acid jazz, hip-hop, funk and soul was going through an incredible growth spurt. By the time he finished sixth form he was organizing music parties and bussing crowds down to coastal weekenders. Shortly after he started a mail order record company, opened a record shop, started several influential record labels and put out some trail blazing cuts that fused jazz and hip-hop, anticipating artists like Guru’s Jazzmatazz and A Tribe Called Quest. He also continued to hone his craft as a DJ.

Remi tells me that he recognised in Hastings some of the musical spirit he had experienced in Nigeria and that this was the main reason for him moving here in 2007. Intending to hang up his headphones, his indefatigable enthusiasm wouldn’t allow him to and he has been very busy since his arrival. He has started a regular Monday jazz night at Oscars which features live bands across the jazz, funk and soul spectrum, and has begun to promote events that stretch the town’s musical offer under the moniker of HiddenBeach promotions. 

“I want to plan events that engage all six senses, bring people together and that allow music to increase the wellbeing of all who attend,” he explains. Look out for future Hidden Beach events, which include a NYE party with the internationally renowned DJ Severino of Horse Meat Disco at Oscar’s and DA Fest, an all-day festival to raise awareness about depression and other mental health issues next Summer, on St Leonards promenade. Here is a man who is going beyond the usual remit of a music promoter to do something intrinsically good for our community.

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