Joined: 31 Dec 1969
Location: HMI World
|Posted: Tue Jul 31, 2007 4:32 pm Post subject: RICHARD ROUZEAU OF PAPASH!
Interview conducted by Patrick Desvarieux
Richard Rouzeau left his mark in the business early on as a member of legendary new generation group PAPASH. Now on his own, he gets ready to release his first solo record. Read what he has to say about his future projects, the rise and fall of PAPASH, his side of the story regarding his stint with New York All-Stars recently and so much more.
KM: Hey Richard, tell the fans what you have been up to lately?
Richard Rouzeau: Hey, what's going on Patrick. Well, first, I've been working on my solo album "Tanpere'ou" that'll be coming out very soon. Second, I've been working on a French R&B project with Adeline (formally of Papash). In fact, we're now working on an English project with a new management team and it could come out sooner than the French one. The public is currently hearing one of my productions (probably without even realizing it) through Alan's new song "Se Pa Pou Dat".
I'm also working on an Alternative R&B project for myself. Since I'm setting up a new record label with Radius Group named Masif Sound Records and that it should be distributed by Universal, there are a few Haitian singers and groups that I plan on releasing on the Haitian market as well as the international market. Our goal will be to present Haitian music to the rest of the world.
KM: Please tell us more about your upcoming CD. What is it about? How many songs? Who will be producing/distributing it? When will it be released?
Richard Rouzeau: This upcoming album will have 11 varied songs. Meaning that if you play the first song, don't think you know what kind of music is on the album. Even if the majority is based on the konpa beat, I've tried to include different elements in each song. The lyrics are mostly about my thoughts and philosophy of life and some are little stories with their own characters and situations. I'm just pouring my heart out to the public while trying to entertain them at the same time.
For example "ZĂ©fĂ´" is about how we're all blinded by the illusions of life and "M'pa sa Danse" is the story of a guy who fell so badly for a lady at a party that, when he gets his chance to dance with her, he's frozen on the dance floor with two left feet. Hopefully, the album will be out under my own label Masif Sound Records and will be distributed by Universal through Radius Group. The release date is not set yet but it should be around March / April.
KM: Why the long absence from the musical scene after the breakup of the legendary new generation group Papash? Also, why did it take you so long to release a record?
Richard Rouzeau: I think I was fed up with the music business in the Haitian community. In Papash, I had to deal with so much unprofessionalism. From managers who were mostly well intended but had no idea how to push the band, to promoters who had no idea how to promote and PAY the performing act. Besides, I never liked playing the ballroom scene all the time and always aspired to only play well prepared stage shows with nice choreographs and lighting systems.
I couldn't stand the fact that the band had to include the same konpa groove with the longest keyboard and guitar solos in all its songs for people to "groove" on. Most of the other band members and managers never wanted to take the chance to shift from the ballroom scene. Therefore, I just quit and went to school while working on my own songs, trying to keep up with the Hip-Hop and R&B movement and decided not to put anything out until I could find the best way to do it. I vowed never to play a "bal" unless I could play it as a show.
KM: We understand you played with New York All-Stars for a couple of gigs. Why did you not continue with them? Did you quit on them?
Richard Rouzeau: Welmyr Jean-Pierre and Ives Abel contacted me and asked for help because one of the lead singers of the band(Armstrong) was sick and could not perform the few gigs they already had lined up. It was a very difficult thing for me to do because of the time constraints and my return to the ballroom scene with same konpa groove and long solos.
Musically, there would be no problems since they're the best musicians out there but the orientation and music structure they decided to adopt plus the time away from my own projects were the issues I had with that.
Because we are long time friends and they helped me several times before, I put all my issues aside and went to play with them. I picked up 2 songs as the lead singer and learned a few choruses from the songs that Kenny (the other original lead singer) was singing. After a few gigs at Planet Malibu and Miami, Welmyr told me that they would stop playing gigs and enter the studio to record a new album and wanted me to participate since the future of Armstrong was kind of uncertain with the band.
At that moment, I told him that the direction they wanted to take with the band is not where I felt like going at this point of my career and didn't want to get involved with the album and then leave them afterwards.That's all!
I had to be thorough in my answer because of an article (on a site I'm not going to name so they can't benefit from the free publicity that would generate) that someone pointed out to me which contains a made-up story of my little experience with the band. I also heard that part of the story came from the drummer (Shedley) that was showing off for the wannabe journalist of the site. I hope that's not the way Shedley would want to thank me.
KM: How was Papash created and did you expect the band to be as successful as it was?
Richard Rouzeau: Papash was founded by Wuydens Joseph. He told me that it was even supposed to start with himself, Alan Cave and Tantan from Lakol but the two guys had to leave for NY. In fact, Wuydens is kind of responsible for the making of Zin since he introduced Alan to Alex Abellard. Wuydens then hooked up with Edgar, Raplh and Reginald Delaleu who would be replaced by me one year later because he also had to leave for NY. The name "Papash" was given by Master J.
We were not expecting anything. We were just doing something we liked and it blew up. I still remember when we put out the song "Mwen Te Pati" on the radio as the first real single of the band and the next Sunday we heard Giorgio from Metropole saying that we were the only band after Skandal to have a song that went directly to number 4 on the first week.
About a month later, we heard that Zenglen was playing our song "Feeling Papash" (Foumi nan janm) that was rehearsed at a Zenglen member's house. We rushed to Toto Laraque's house who was kind enough to record the song for us on his little 4 track studio and we released it the next day. A few weeks later in the Top Ten, there was "Mwen Te Pati" at first place and "Feeling Papash" at second place. They occupied these two spots for many weeks while Michel Marthelly's "Ouh La la" and Emeline Michel's "Lanmou se Flanm" were stuck at the third and fourth spots. Patrick, I know you asked me to give you detailed answers but I think I'm starting to sound like a "vye granmoun" here.
KM: Were you guys the pioneers of the new Generation?
Richard Rouzeau: Pioneers!? No, not at all. The real pioneers of this movement would have to be ZeklĂ¨. There was also Kassav' because zouk had a great influence on us. There was Skandal and a bunch of artists and bands that came out after Duvalier's exile.
KM: How did you guys handle success because we understand that you guys were like the Haitian version of the Backstreet Boys and N'Sync?
Richard Rouzeau: Haha!...N'Sync?... Hmmm.... I don't think these guys write their own songs though. Success is never difficult to handle without the money. Since we did not make any, I don't think it could go into our heads. I personally have never felt like a star in my life because I've never done something in music that I'm that proud of. Furthermore, I never had the chance to express myself to the fullest in Papash. Since my interest in the music business was fueled by the greatest entertainer of all time, Michael Jackson, I would not even consider feeling like a star until I surpassed his achievements and that will most likely not happen.
KM: What caused the Papash breakup? Please tell us in detail. Was it the fact that you guys came to New York or was it a leadership battle problem between Wuydens Joseph and Ralph Conde?
Richard Rouzeau: Details are not something I can give you because I don't even have them. I was not even in NY when Ralph decided to leave the group. In a way, I don't even know what happened for sure. All I can say is that Papash has been loosing it strength as a group very early on. After the first album, we were deviating from our initial structure of a show band to a more straight konpa band. This change was mainly influenced by Ralph who was the most experienced in konpa music. I even left the group because of that and came back almost a year after because they were ready to record a new album and stop the interpretation of old konpa songs every weekend. I remember that Wuydens was not spending too much time with the group either.
With the second album, Ralph still managed to keep us closer to the straight konpa than the first one. "Gade Yo" was a big hit and not too long after, we came to NY. Since then, the band started to divide in two groups: Wuydens, Adeline and myself versus Ralph and his brother Jean-Bernard (who joined the band in NY). We had different views about what to do with the band until it escalated to the break-up. If I would speak about every little thing that happened in between, you would need to pay for more Megabytes of server space to post it.
KM: Do you talk to the other members of the band today?
Richard Rouzeau: I talk to Wuydens all the time. We like to discuss computers since we're both into that. I very rarely speak to Ralph but I know Wuydens does from time to time. I was with Edgar Grand-Pierre (the founding member who stayed behind) in Haiti while I was recording my solo album.
KM: Do you ever see you guys getting back together again in the near future, even if it's for a couple of shows or album?
Richard Rouzeau: Presently, I'm not interested. Even though I'm asked that question every single day and I know there is a demand for it, I will not do it just for the money. If I'm playing music, I got to feel it. I like Papash for what it was, not what it became. If, in the future, they want to do something that is closer to how we started then maybe I'll consider it. Until then, they can do it without me.
KM: A lot of people say that had PAPASH stayed together when they first came to New York, they would be controlling the market right now. Do you agree?
Richard Rouzeau: Well, "staying together" is the key term here. Zin is still doing great right now because they could stay together. I can't see how we could control the market if the band itself is shaky. If the band is not together than everything suffers: creativity, performance, administration, etc... Wait until each of us puts out a solo album and you'll see how differently we see things now.
KM: What are your favorite Haitian musicians and bands currently in the market?
Richard Rouzeau: I'm not sure what you mean by "currently in the market" but I'll just name a few: Zekle, Beethova Obas, Reginald Policard, Dadou Pasquet, Gary Josamar, Welmyr Jean-Pierre, Philipe Pierre, Adeline Thelisma, Wuydens Joseph, Macarios Cezaire, Jean-Marc Merceron, Jimmy Roc, Serge Laguerre, Laurent Ciceron, Ives Abel, Kinelly Jean-Pierre, etc... I could go on and on.
I also admire my buddy Alan Cave and believe that he is the definition of the new generation voice. Tantan is one great singer too. And finally, I sincerely hope that Armstrong gets back to his feet because we need a singer like him out there for Haitians sake.
KM: What do you think will be the hit song of your upcoming record? Why?
Richard Rouzeau: The fact that each song has its own vibe makes it difficult to predict a hit. I think each person will feel certain songs at certain times. There is a song for each kind of mood: fun, sensual, meditative, inspirational, etc...
KM: How will you be supporting the album? Will you be touring solo?
Richard Rouzeau: Sure, no doubt about it, and with the international distribution, I will have to cover a wider market with appearances and interviews. I will prepare the best show I can and perform all around the world.
KM: Who worked with you on the album as far as musicians?
Richard Rouzeau: I don't think there has ever been that many talents on one album before. Let me list some for you: Dadou Pasquet (from Magnum Band), Laurent Ciceron (from Magnum band), Welmyr Jean-Pierre, Gary Josamar, Philipe Pierre, Jacky Amboise (from Strings), Philipe Augustin (from Strings), Jimmy Roc, Serge Laguerre, Sergo Decius, Macarios Cezaire, Kinelly Jean-Pierre, Jimmy Jean Felix (from Boukan Guinen), Choupit, Adeline and Vladimir Thelisma etc ....
KM: Any final words to the fans?
Richard Rouzeau: From my point of view, the problem with the Haitian music business is the lack of diversity and evolution. The promoters and producers are scared to push something new and different because they don't believe the public will grasp it. In the American market, there is always a new wave of music almost every year.
The funny thing is that Haitians are always into the new American vibes. So, I would like to ask the fans to help the Haitian music industry to expand its wings by supporting the artist that want to bring something new to them. Do not only go to a performance because of the girls you want to meet but sometimes go to support your music. Go to receive what the artist is offering just like you would for a Wyclef show or any other Hip-Hop and R&B act.
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