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PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2007 5:02 pm    Post subject: TOTO LARAQUE (YEAR 2000)! Reply with quote

Toto Laraque
Interview conducted by Patrick Desvarieux

Toto Laraque

1) Toto, how are you and what have you been up to lately?
Toto Laraque: I'm fine thank you. These last few weeks, I've been working on an instrumental CD which will consist of fourteen songs. There will be different flavors on there such as Compas, Salsa, Bolero and more.

2) You've been away from the spotlight for a long time. What finally made you decide to release your solo CD?

Toto Laraque: For a long time, I retreated from my music so that I could dedicate more time to my regular job as director of sales of LAINA. My guitar was never too far away however, and with the help of my son Pascal and my pals Fabrice Rouzier (Mizik Mizik) and Carlill Francois, I decided to do a CD. I went a long time without releasing a solo CD. It's been approximately fifteen years since I did my last solo record in New York with several famous musicians.
3) What has been the reception/reaction for your solo record? Can we expect any new music videos?

Toto Laraque: My last CD was extremely well received in Haiti. It sold a lot of copies. The radio stations happen to like the song that I composed for Coupe Cloué with the participation of eight different guitarists. Other people prefer the song "Konkou Body Plastik", whose music video is making a killing in Haiti. A lot of people are still talking about it. As a matter of fact, the video is working so well that my producer does not want me to release any new videos until my next album.

4) Toto, how did you start in the Haitian music business? Also, please give us a brief musical history of Toto Laraque and the bands that he's been involved in.

Toto Laraque: I started at a young age in a band called "The Teenagers" with my brother Michel. I played the bass. Then "Shoogar" (Jazz de la Ruelle Chochotte) with Reginald Policard on accordion. I then played in "The Gypsies" with Claude Marcelin, Edner Coulotte and the others. We were extremely popular.

Later on, Reginald Policard, my brother Jean Jean and I decided to create "Caribbean Sextet". We use to practice in my room at "L'Impass Laraque". We started playing every Saturday at "Ding A Ling". We were very successful, especially with the song "Chatte Fifi" that became an instant hit. From there Caribbean Sextet became well known internationally.

5) You also played with the "GYPSIES" after the departure of the main and most popular members of the group. How was that experience? How did you feel about replacing these popular members?

Toto Laraque: With "The Gypsies" we had a lot of success. I experienced a lot in replacing stars such as Robert Martino and Sinsin.

6) What was your most positive experience in the Gypsies? What about your most negative experience?

Toto Laraque: The most positive experience with "The Gypsies" were at the club "Cabane Creole" where it was always packed every Sunday whenever we played for six months. There were always also a lot of beautiful looking ladies there. "Ti" Claude and I were always extremely lucky every time in that department.

The most negative experience were the two carnivals I played with the group. It was extremely tiring, and that in part was one of the reasons that led me to leave the group.

7) How did the public react to you and "Ti" Claude Marcelin joining the Gypsies?

Toto Laraque: The public was extremely receptive to us. They were happy.

8) Why did you leave?

Toto Laraque: I was still in school and "The Gypsies" were even playing on weekdays. I had to leave the band to better concentrate on my studies.

9) Tell us about the group Caribbean Sextet. Why has the band stopped recording together?

Toto Laraque: After playing and travelling together for twenty years, we were a little bit tired. Everyone wanted to do a solo CD. We do get together from time to time, however it's happening much less these days.

10) Are there any plans for a "reunion" CD in the works?

Toto Laraque: We spoke about it, but it is not concrete yet. It also has to do with a matter of time.

11) How popular of a group was Caribbean Sextet during in its' heyday? Please give us some examples?

Toto Laraque: My best times with "Caribbean Sextet" were in Kenscoff where for twenty years every Summer at a club called "L'Auberge", there was a "communion" between the public and ourselves.

Another good memory was two years after we had stopped playing together, we got back together to participate at the Jazz Festival of New Orleans. It was great as we played with such great artists as George Benson and Didi Bridgewater. We had some really good times.

12) You guys were even nicknamed "Djazz Bourgeois" by certain people. Why do you think that was? Was it a fair tag you think?

Toto Laraque: Some people like you said did give us that nickname, but we were never that because we honored our contracts everywhere we were asked to play. We had no problems with any groups or musicians. As a matter of fact, every year I and Richard Widmaier assemble twelve of the best guitarists in the business for a show entitled "The Magical Night of the Guitar". We've always had a very good rapport with all the musicians in the business.

13) How important of a group was Caribbean Sextet in the history of Haitian culture/society you think?

Toto Laraque: I think "Caribbean Sextet" will have a good place in the history of Haitian culture because our music was very good.

14) Toto, you became more popular with the public after the release of the super controversial hit "Chatte Fifi". Were you surprised by the reaction that you guys got regarding that particular song?

Toto Laraque: It's true. When they tried to censor the song "Chatte Fifi" in Haiti, it became more popular. However, you must also realize that the lyrics to my songs never contained any direct cursing. The lyrics would just speak for themselves, much in the same manner as Coupe Cloué whose songs/lyrics were also the same way.

15) You also created a lot of controversy after the release of that song because of the lyrics. Can you please tell us what some of the problems were? Was the song ever banned on Haitian radio?

Toto Laraque: I composed several songs with double meanings in the lyrics. "La Revanche De Jolibois", "Bos Djo", and "Pe Masel" on my first solo album done in New York. "Madougou" and "Coq Gaguerre" composed with Boulot Valcourt, "Dr. Boisrond" and a dozen of others that were well received by some and not so well by others, especially a certain doctor by the actual name of Dr. Boisrond who wasn't too pleased with my composition..

16) After that song, you left your signature on the Haitian music industry. Did that song UNFAIRLY give you a "vagabond" label in the eyes of many people?

Toto Laraque: No. A musician is like an actor. He's playing a role. He could be very serious away from the music business. The people that know me well know that as much as I like to clown around, I can also be extremely serious.

17) Do you think Caribbean Sextet was ever appreciated the way that they deserved to be by the Haitian public, or do you think the band should have been more popular than it was?

Toto Laraque: Yes, I think we were appreciated during our twenty years of existence. The public has always supported us whether it was with our records or concerts. When we speak of the group, it's always with honor.

1Cool Why is Caribbean Sextet special? What made you guys different from the rest?

Toto Laraque: We are not different from the other bands. We just have a style that reflects our personality.

19) Who was Toto Laraque's music idol when he was growing up?

Toto Laraque: My idol ever since I was a kid was and still is George Benson.

20) Which Haitian bands do you listen to and appreciate now?

Toto Laraque: I love to listen to Mosaique, Eddy Prophete, Reginald Policard, Boulot Valcourt, System Band, Haitiando, Eddy Brisseaux, Philippe Charles, Gina Dupervil, Bemole and a lot of others.

21) We understand that your kid is following in your musical footsteps with his group "2 NICE". Tell us about it.

Toto Laraque: Yes Pascal. My son loves music a lot, and with his group "2 Nice" he hopes to release his first CD real soon. Their work is very positive and will please the public very much.

22) Any final words?

Toto Laraque: I love music and people. I love to have fun. I love women, I love to drink, I love to joke around and I also love food. I also love all the musicians. My wish would be to see the Haitian kids adore their country and its' music.
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