LAST year was something of a seminal one for Isle of Wight musician Derek Sandy.

Providing a fragment of escapism from the medley of political narrative, the singer gained national recognition for his summer hit Welcome to the Isle of Wight on Britain's Got Talent, receiving unanimous approval from the show's judges.

Now, the man notorious for his vivid apparel and pride in the local scene has given County Press reporter Dominic Kureen an exclusive interview.

Hello Derek, you returned from Tobago in March and went straight into lockdown on the Isle of Wight, was that an easy transition?

Yes, it was, although it was a little cold when I returned. I am always one for preferring my home environment and don’t really go out socially. I do a lot of socialising when working, so being home hasn’t been an issue for me.

What have you missed most while you've been in lockdown?

I miss performing and relighting the Isle of Wight’s Caribbean vibes.

How do the beaches of Tobago compare to those on the IW?

There are some lovely beaches here, but very different from those in Tobago. We are so lucky to have such beauty on our doorstep, not many other counties can boast such an array of beautiful beaches to suit all preferences whether that is sunbathing or surfing.

Last year saw you star on Britain's Got Talent, did that appearance spark interest both on and off the Island?

Absolutely! After the show was aired I was hired to play some prestigious events — the outreach of the show was amazing. I have also been honoured as an Isle of Wight Ambassador and a Local Hero for Tourism following the show.

What advice would you give to aspiring musicians wanting to forge a career from a base on the Island?

Keep working hard, have faith in your talent and don’t let any slight disappointments dull your spirit. Take all opportunities available because you never know who is watching the performance and where that could lead.

Are there any Isle of Wight based bands or artists you would recommend people listen out for?

There is a young keyboardist, Alex Cassidy, who is certainly one to look out for, he plays regularly alongside me and has been scouted recently for solo sessions abroad.

You supported the great Bob Marley, what was that like?

Bob Marley's Survival tour took place in 1979 and 1980. I was in a band called the Trinidad Troubadours who were a supporting act for the Trinidad leg of the tour. I would love to have performed alongside Bob and his band, much respect to them all and their music.

Do you have a new single, EP or LP in the works?

Yes, I am working on something. As soon as it is finished, and I am happy with it, I will let you all hear it.

You're well known for your tireless performances, how have you been keeping in 'gig-shape'?

I enjoy taking our dog, Jet, for walks and do sit-ups and stamina sessions. Perhaps I should do a little more than I am, but this slight gain in weight will soon be shifted when I do a few gigs!

The last couple of years have been marked by Brexit, the coronavirus and a rise in activism — do you think it is heightened activity or a product of an age where information is more easily accessible?

I think everyone needs to make their own mind up as to the happenings in our country. There will always be those who offer 'fake news' to fuel a fire, those who misrepresent the information given and those who like to scaremonger. I suggest people (try to analyse) facts for themselves.

The recent Black Lives Matter movement has stirred a lot of emotions in people, did you attend the protest in Newport and what are your thoughts on the incident with George Floyd and subsequent protests?

I didn’t take part in any protest. It is not in my nature to become involved and make comments, I leave that to the politicians.

Is there a mantra you choose to live by?

Have faith, have strength, have courage.