Sat | May 30, 2020

Trinidad’s Boom Boom Room drummers hit the mark - Say it is easier to capitalise on ­carnival as a duo

Published:Saturday | August 17, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Modupe Onilu (left) and Rhys Thompson at Mimosa Breakfast Party held recently.
Popular Trinidadian drum duo, Boom Boom Room, Modupe Onilu (left) and Rhys Thompson are caught up in the rhythms at Mimosa Breakfast Party held during Barbados Crop Over season.

Give these two a soca rhythm and it will come to life with the effervescent tapping of their drumsticks. Modupe Onilu and Rhys Thompson, or together called Boom Boom Room, come from the island where the steel pan originates, but the instrument of choice for the duo is drum, whether an acoustic or auxiliary drum set, which offers a ­complete playground for the adventurous percussionist.

“Call us second generation musician,” Thompson told The Gleaner. “Growing up, we watched our fathers play with musicians like the legendary Andre Tanker and you could say the love for music and musical instruments was innate,”

He added, “We, too, have also played alongside entertainers, separately and together.”

The two have mastered the drums, creating diverse patterns that will have listeners zoning out all that surrounds them, in order to focus on the music alone. They are also recognised for being able to synchronise their playing with pre-recorded tracks, without being lost in the digital arrangements.

“It is challenging musically, especially in settings where we play along with the disc jockey, who is at the controls. It always tests us to catch any curve ball thrown. The music can move from a fast to slow track in seconds, so it is always adds to the fun, and the more fun we have,, is the more fun our audience tends to have,” he said.

Within half of a decade drumming, Boom Boom Room has exploded from playing the field in Trinidad and Tobago, to scoring goals across the Caribbean region and America, demonstrating raw talent and professionalism to artistes within the soca and alternative, R&B and dancehall sphere alike.

Thompson shared, “The major selling point is that Boom Boom Room is a soca drum duo. This is attractive to promoters and, in essence, it works because it is easier to travel with just two of us, plus we also love the challenge of making two drummers sound like a group of eight to ten drummers.”

The duo’s bookings are heavier during the various carnival periods.


“We play mostly soca, but we can also do dancehall. Our playing style has kept us within carnivals, or anything that is soca ­dominated,” Onilu joined in.

“Music is entertaining and we make a lot of friends across the region, because something as ­simple as a drum roll brings people together,” he continued.

The duo recently wrapped up Barbados’ Crop Over for the third time, prior to which they also completed a New York City tour. They were the featured entertainment for Crop Over events such as Mimosa Breakfast Party and Zirque and also played on a truck for Aura, the band of choice for international sensation Rihanna.

“Last year, we had the ­opportunity to play during Jamaica’s carnival period. Although we did not play for the road march, the exposure to events like Sunnation Sunrise Breakfast Party, Scorch and Xaymaca’s I Love Soca were good ... the feedback was good. One thing is obvious – the diversity of the ­carnivals. And look forward to participating in those to come,” he said.