INTERVIEW: Working with Tarrus Riley, Dean Fraser is a Blessing–Koriq

Courick Miguel Carlington stage name Koriq is one of the members of the Blaksoil band who will be playing during Tarrus Riley’s live performance tonight. Koriq is the master behind the keyboard on Dean Frazer’s ‘Blaksoil’ band and has been on several tours with Tarrus.

After being around such legends for about 10years, the soft spoken, jolly and friendly pianist decided to also pursue his solo music career which he is doing alongside playing piano.

Koriq is on the team that is currently in Uganda with Tarrus Riley for the long awaited Swangz All-Star concert set to take place tonight, Friday 31st August 2018 at Cricket Oval Lugogo.

He took off time to talk to ChimpLyf’s Bridget Nanteza about his music career, how it feels working with music legends, his experience in Uganda so far and what the crew has in store for Ugandans tonight.

Koriq with Tarrus Riley

Who is Koriq?

My given name is Courick Miguel Carlington Clarke; I am a Jamaican musician, born to parents; Carmen and Bob Clarke. I started playing piano by ear at age 7, by 9 years, I was playing in church, at school devotions and functions around my community of Ocho Rios.

Take us through your music journey.

It was clear from early that I had an uncommon gift for music, and I soon started arranging harmonies for my church choir (the children’s choir). After high school and 1 year of college, I decided to study Jazz and Classical piano at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts…Jamaica School Of Music.


While there, I did many jazz gigs in and around Kingston. Eventually the voice of Reggae music called and I answered and started touring with major reggae acts including Queen Ifica, Tony Rebel, Etana, Freddie McGreggor, Duane Stephenson, Tammy Chin, Tessann Chin, Luciano, George Nooks, to name a few.

My most recent and longest running gig has been with Tarrus Riley and the BlakSoil Band, led by the legendary saxophonist, Dean Frazer.

Koriq on stage performing one of his songs

Do you have an album yet?

No, I do not. I have always felt that an album is pointless unless people know who you are. But lately, I have been feeling the push to get started on an album project. Many artists’ first albums fade into obscurity and then by the next album, they become increasingly popular. So I figure, why not give it a shot.

How many songs do you have so far?

So far, I have about 12 songs released and almost as many recorded and waiting on the various producers to release them.

How did you start working with the legendary Tarrus Riley?

Hahaha. There is nothing exciting to that story. I was a keyboard player, touring with different artists. BlakSoil needed a keyboard player, I loved the music of Tarrus and I made myself available, and it’s been BLAKSOIL ever since.  Big up the Blak Soil massive, Shane Brown, Dean Frazer, Tarrus himself and the whole crew!

How long have you worked with Tarrus and what has it been like?

I have been with Tarrus and Blaksoil for about ten years. It has been quite the learning experience for me. As a professional musician mostly and in the last couple of years, it has helped me hone my stage craft as an artist. I am grateful for the opportunities I have had to perform as an artist in front of audiences worldwide. In 2016, I was allowed the opening spot on Tarrus’ European tour.

BlakSoil band members Koriq (L) Tarrus Riley (C) and Dean Fraser (R)

So with all those achievements what have been some of the challenges you have faced in your career?

I really don’t like to dwell on the negative, but rather find ways of getting around them. I think the challenges I face are common to almost every trying artist. When you’re on the rise as an indie artist with no label support, the road is just a little or a lot rougher. But hey, give thanks there’s still a road.

And if there’s no road, I’ll use the path, and if I can’t find a path, I’ll make one and leave a trail for others coming up.

You have been to many countries on tour, how does Uganda compare?

It is my first time in Uganda and I must say, coming to Africa is always a blessed experience. I do not know, maybe it’s just a spirituality that comes from My African roots. As a Jamaican, I identify very strongly with Africa. I love how grounded Ugandans seem; connected to roots and tradition. Your Culture is embedded in everything, food, language, garments, craft etc.

Compare Ugandan women to Jamaican women.

Well, to me, the beauty about a woman is in her uniqueness. She is one of a kind. I guess that’s why you hear so many songs about “The one for me”. But Ugandan women, the little I have seen of them they tend to exude a certain humble confidence. I like that.  A Jamaican woman, on the other hand, she’s usually very confident, but more outward about it, I like that too.

But I am not one to generalize, because I am sure there are many different personalities in any nationality. To me, a woman is a woman regardless where she’s from, and the differences will be from person to person, not from nation to nation.

Koriq hopes to have his own band in five years

What motivates you in life?

Results, success, and the pride in my children’s eyes when they see their dad. I always want them to be proud of me as I am proud of them.

So you are married, Ugandan girls should back off?

Hahahahaha. I was once married.

Have you ever been heartbroken?

I guess everyone has been.

Tonight is the D-day, the long awaited performance from Tarrus and crew. What should Ugandans expect?

Well we are always ready. Ugandans can expect to see a reggae event that surpasses their expectations.  Blaksoil is going to take you on a magical, musical, emotional journey. Tarrus is truly a one of a kind artist. Like nothing you’ve ever seen before; versatile, confident and ready. We put a lot of time into preparing for this assignment. And Just in case I’m starting to sound too boastful, please understand. It’s not that we are conceited, but we are PASSIONATE about what we do. We work HARD to deliver our best to you. So when I say expect GREATNESS, what I mean is, expect that all the work we put into entertaining you, will be well worth it!

Koriq will be on the piano tonight as Tarrus Riley performs at Lugogo Cricket Oval

How else do you spend your time besides doing music?

Well, it’s hard to think what I do outside of music, because music always finds its way into whatever I’m doing. I could be sleeping and a song comes to me and I have to get up and go into the studio and lay down the idea. But I like to have quiet moments whether at home or a cross country drive with “the right company”. As an island youth, a few hours at the beach or by the river is always a welcomed treat. I like movies too. 

Where do you see yourself in the next 5years?

These questions excite me, I see myself touring Africa and the world with my own band, singing my own songs, taking people on the same exciting journeys as I’m doing now as part of BlakSoil.

Dean Fraser (L) Koriq (C) and Tarrus Riley sharing a light moment

Do you plan to do a collabo with any Ugandan artist?

I would love that. I have met some Ugandan DJ’s So they should be able to hook up a collabo.


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