Joined: 31 Dec 1969
Location: HMI World
|Posted: Tue Jul 31, 2007 4:10 pm Post subject: TI JOE ZENNY OF KONPA KREYOL!
|He is the charismatic lead singer of the new sensations in the Haitian music industry Konpa Kreyol. Joseph Zenny Jr. (Ti Joe) speaks to KOMPAMAGAZINE.COM about the group's future plans, their U.S tour, the competition in the Haitian music industry, T-Vice, Sweet Micky and more. Enjoy. Conducted just after KONPA KREYOL's first US performance.
KM: What did you think of Konpa Kreyol's first U.S performance in New York on Friday at Best Western?
J.Z: I can say that it was a tremendous success. We were prepared emotionally for it. We were a little bit surprised by the way the people turned out in droves to see the band. It shows that they were thirsty for the band. A few of them already knew what we were about from seeing us in Haiti. Even though we would've liked to have played more, we thought it was a very good show.
KM: Did you expect the band to have that much success from the beginning?
J.Z: We believed in our product. We know that Konpa Kreyol is different from other bands that use drum machines. Our style is different. Songs like "Si'w vle", "Malere kap trip", "Viens chez moi" we knew were going to work. Even though we didn't have any experience before, we asked musicians with experience for advice. We always ask for advice. A song like "Kimele'm" even though it's good, we had no idea it would have as much success as it has had, especially in Haiti. We never expected to be this far in a year.
KM: Of all the songs on the CD, which one has surprised you in terms of its popularity?
J.Z: A song like "Viens chez moi", I have no idea why it's that popular. I'm not sure if it's because a lot of people can relate to it. (A song about a guy pleading with his girlfriend to come over to his house because his parents are not home. It also states that his little brother is in the house, but he won't be bothering the couple)
KM: Are you working on anything new right now?
J.Z: Yes we are. We are working on a video for "Viens chez moi". We are also working on a "Live" CD coming out in December. Our new studio CD will come out after the carnival in 2001.
KM: You've already started working on some songs for the new CD?
J.Z: The ideas are there. The melodies are there. The lyrics are done. It's just a matter of going in the studio to sequence, arrange and record. It shouldn't take us more than a month in the studio.
KM: Which label will be producing the CDs?
J.Z: Nouvel Jenerasyon will produce the "Live" CD. As far as the second CD is concerned, we think it's Nouvel Jenerasyon that might do it as well, but we're not sure yet because we haven't sat down to talk about it. If there's anyone on top of the new studio CD, it's Nouvel Jenerasyon because Joubert is our promoter. We can't say for sure because we have not signed anything yet, but the priority remains with Nouvel Jenerasyon Records.
KM: A lot of people are predicting that Konpa Kreyol will be a major player in the business in the near future. Do expectations like that put a lot of pressure on the band?
J.Z: We are humble. We try to control the frenzy, pressure that comes with expectations like this. If we don't do it now, we might not be able to control it down the line. We are simple and humble. We are ready for whatever will come our way. We'll be ready. Success does not make a person. Nothing is forever. We don't believe that we are superior than anybody else. We are plain and simple people.
KM: Where do you see the band in two to five years?
J.Z: I can't really say because I'm not a prophet. (Laughs) However if we stay on the same road we will bring a lot of things to the Haitian music industry.
KM: A lot of people try to compare you guys to T-Vice. Is there competition between T-Vice and Konpa Kreyol?
J.Z: (Thinks for five seconds) Competition, yes. The Haitian music market is a large one, therefore there is a lot of competition right now. You have Sweet Micky, Djakout Mizik, T-Vice, Kdans and a lot of other groups that are playing well. Before it was easy to count the bands in the industry, now the market is so large that you really can't do that anymore. You have to work extremely hard to have the spotlight shine on you. That's the only way that you can say that all the Haitian bands are competing with each other. If there wasn't competition, there would be no progress. You have to try to outshine the other.
As far as "polemique", if a band were to attack us, we would still continue on the same road as before. We are against things like that because that is not what Konpa Kreyol stands for. Things like that get personal and deteriorate into more dangerous matters. On that end, we can say that Konpa Kreyol does not have a problem like that with any band.
KM: Why do you think that a lot of people pick T-Vice most of the time to try and compare you?
J.Z: First of all, it's a question of format. We both play with four musicians. We both play the same format. We are both young. People will always try to pit us against the other to try and compare.
KM: Do you guys attract the same crowd?
J.Z: I wouldn't say it's the same crowd. Every band has its crowd. It's all about the family and friends of the band members. Those in turn bring other people to come and listen to the bands who then attract other people. Yes it is true that a lot of the people that like Konpa Kreyol also like T-Vice and vice versa. It's two different things all together. Maybe we don't share the same friends.
KM: Does the fact that Konpa Kreyol has played with Sweet Micky on a couple of occasions create some sort of tension between T-Vice, their fans and Konpa Kreyol because of the vicious feud between Micky and T-Vice?
J.Z: We play more often with Michel. Michel came to our CD signing on December 3, 1999. Michel saw that we had a bright future and he came to propose that we play together at a club in Haiti. The party was very successful. By popular demand, we played together again for a second time. Again by popular demand, we played together for a third time. The first time we played, we had 1200 people. The second time we had 1500. The third time in Jacmel we had about 4000 people. This is a business. If something is working, it's normal for people to ask or demand it again. It's not a question that we like to play with certain bands more than others. If I play with Zin and we gather 1200 people, you are going to want to do it again. That's the way the business is. I don't agree with the notion that we play more with Sweet Micky than any other band.
We played with Zenglen on a Tuesday evening in Haiti and we gathered close to 1000 people in a club that can only receive six hundred. After something like that, it is perfectly normal for me to ask Zenglen to do another "bal" together. It's the same with Kdans or Djakout Mizik.
KM: When is the T-Vice/Konpa Kreyol?
J.Z: Soon. I don't want people to think that we will never play with T-Vice. I don't want them to think that we have a problem with T-Vice, even though there were some comments about people saying that they would not play with an unknown band and all when we were just starting.
KM: What happened?
J.Z: At the time we only had the song "Titanic". The CD was not out yet. T-Vice spent the whole year playing overseas. Their "Welcome Back" performance in Haiti was for my cousin Edou Zenny, a big promoter in Jacmel. My cousin suggested that we do a T-Vice/Konpa Kreyol because of our popularity, even though we didn't have an album out yet. He knew that our following in Port-au-Prince would follow us to Jacmel for that particular gig.
The word was already out, the flyers had been printed and tickets were being sold one month in advance. I guess the guys noticed that since they were going to play one gig in the country before going back to the U.S, I guess they thought that it was not a good idea to have two bands play. I guess if I were in their position, I would've done the same thing. It's business. It's the way that things just turned so quickly with rumors that were being said that created a little something.
I spoke to Roberto and he told me that he did say that he did not want to play with any other band. He said that he never said anything about not playing with an unknown band. Yes it did hurt our feelings, especially since the flyers had already been printed and tickets were already sold. All of a sudden they erase the group from the show, it's regrettable. I want to say however that is not something that we are holding against them.
The only thing that I can say is as much as T-Vice refused to play with us, Michel Martelly in turn accepted to play with us. You see what I'm saying. I was an unknown band before the CD came out, but still Michel played with us. Two different approaches, two different greetings. I don't know or never knew Michel before that, whereas the guys from T-Vice were my friends.(Sad)
KM: Does Konpa Kreyol control the market down in Haiti?
J.Z: Let's take some statistics, not my words. We played twenty six graduations for the schools in a country that does not have any money. Twenty six graduations by ourselves. During the summer, we played every weekend, sometimes we would start playing on Thursdays, and sometimes on Tuesdays. Our weekly Saturday gig at "Limelight" is always packed no matter who plays at other clubs in the city. This is the first band who's traveled after only one year with a successful tour, and there is already demand for another.
Le Nouvelliste held a contest in Haiti called "Music en Folie", Zenglen got the top prize, Konpa Kreyol came in second in terms of CD sales. We also won "Best CD of the Year". We came in second for best music video. Based on these statistics, I am not saying that we control the market in Haiti, but I would say that we are one of the bands that control the market down in Haiti. Sweet Micky, Djakout Mizik, Kdans and Konpa Kreyol are all doing good.
KM: When can we expect the next U.S tour?
J.Z: Well, I'm sure that they will ask for it soon. They're talking about January, and even Thanksgiving. I don't know. You know how it is when you are just coming into the market. You can't play for just anybody. We have to ask around for advice and all of that. We can expect it soon.
KM: Any last words for the fans of Konpa Kreyol?
J.Z: First of all, I will say to you thank you for supporting us. I will say to the fans thank you for keeping the band in their hearts. To the youth, we will tell them to go to school, take life very seriously and dance their fair share of Konpa Kreyol.
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