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PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2007 5:59 pm Post subject: ROBERT MARTINO LIVING LEGEND! (YEAR 2000)! Reply with quote

Robert Martino
Top Vice
Interview conducted by Patrick Desvarieux

Robert Martino
Lead guitarist of
Top Vice

Robert Martino (a.k.a: "The Legend") is a legend in the Haitian music industry. As the main composer/guitarist for classic bands Difficiles, Gypsies, Scorpio and now Top Vice, he is regarded as one of the best of all time. In this installment of Legends Press Conference, we interview the icon. Enjoy.

Q: Why did you get involved in the music business?

A: It was an inspiration that I had ever since I was a young boy because I’ve always been a fan of Nemours Jean Baptiste. I also had a lot of friends that introduced me to Rock and Roll back in the United States. The idols who also inspired me were Jimmy Hendrix, Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton and also Peter Frampton.

Q: What would you have been if you didn’t stay in music?
A: I would’ve been a soldier. I love war. I’m a passionate war movie fan. As a matter of fact, when I’m home, I watch the History channel.

Q: Why do you think you’ve been able to last so long in music?

A: It’s a matter of comprehension and adaptation. There are a lot of musicians from my generation that are not up to date. They refuse to adapt to the style of music that is currently in vogue. You have to be able to do that. Synthesizers are popular right now, if you are a guitar player like myself, you have to be able to step back a little bit and let the keyboard be the primary instrument.

My secret is I always follow what the trend is out there and I also create my own style. Top Vice created the Digital Revolution in the Haitian industry. I knew this style was going to be big way back when I was still in Haiti. I had a three piece band like Top Vice in Haiti after I left Scorpio. The technology was not as advanced back then, but I had the idea even before I left Haiti. Another secret is you have to listen to other types of music. You have to have Blues, Rock, Jazz and more in your repertoire. It comes in very handy if you have writer’s block. (Panne musique)

Q: Is there anyone that you haven’t worked with that you would love to collaborate with musically?

A: There are a lot. I would love to do an album with Dadou Pasquet. This is something that a lot of people have been asking me for, especially the overseas market. I would also like to work with Shoubou because he’s a guy that I admire a lot. Also an album with my boys (T-Vice). There are several others.

Q: Do you think an album with Dadou will happen?

A: It can be done. Dadou is in Haiti right now and he’s a very busy man. It shouldn’t be a problem. How long can it take for people to get together and do an album? The ideas are there because we are two very good creators who can quickly put our ideas together.

Q: I’m going to name two guitarists. Tell me what you think of them and their styles? Dadou?

A: I love Dadou Pasquet because he has a style of his own. He’s different than me in terms of style. Dadou is not a Rock player, he’s a Blues player. I love his playing style, his quickness and his sense of music.

Q: "Ti" Claude Marcelin?

A: He’s very good. Claude has been following me ever since he was younger. I introduced him to music. He’s one of the best Haitian guitarists, but he still has not branched out to create a style of his own.

Q: How did you get the name "The Legend"?

A: When a lot of people on the streets in Haiti used to see me, they used to say "Here’s the Legend" (Min legend nan). It stuck ever since. (Laughs)

Q: Tell us about Robert Martino in "Les Difficiles de Petion-Ville"?

A: The debut of Robert Martino. I was not experienced back then. It was Henri Celestin (Maestro/singer of the band) who taught me a lot about discipline and so much more. Back then, I also started out as the Bass player for the group before "Porky" joined. It was a neighborhood soccer team who became musicians.

Q: Why did you leave "Les Difficiles"?

A: We were very young at the time. Henri Celestin was very strict with us. He was like a father to us and we respected him a lot. Anyway, Henri and I had a disagreement at one of the parties because I asked him to play a "bolero" song for me so that I could go and dance with my girlfriend Jessie (T-Vice’s mom) at the time. He said that he didn’t want to play the song. I got upset, I dropped the guitar and then I left. (Laughs) I was young back then.

Q: Did you have any regrets about leaving?

A: No, because when I created "The Gypsies", I expressed myself even more musically. With "Les Difficiles" I had to take orders from several people, whereas with Gypsies because it was my band, I was free to play however I wanted. Gypsies is one of the best Haitian bands of all time and it’s also where I met the famous Tico Pasquet.

Q: Why did you leave the Gypsies?

A: A lot of people were leaving Haiti for the United States at the time. Maxo (Lead singer) and Tico had to go live in New York, and also at the time there was no money to be made in Haitian music. The same thing happened to other bands like Shleu-Shleu and Ambassadeurs.

Q: Tell us about your group Scorpio? (formed after Gypsies)

A: The music was changing. Bands like "Les Aiglons", "Exile One" and "Grammacks" from the French Antilles started including keyboards and horns in their music. I thought that we could do that with our own Compas flavor and take it to another level. After Scorpio came out with that style, our rivals Difficiles changed their names to D.P Express and followed suit. Scorpio broke up basically because of the same reasons as Gypsies.

Q: Tell us about the famous Difficiles/Gypsies and D.P Express/Scorpio rivalries? Those were legendary in Haitian music.

A: People still talk about them to this day. The Gypsies/Difficiles rivalry had to do with pride. We weren’t enemies to the point that we wanted to kill each other. We never got personal. The fans were really encouraging it. If the other band came up with a song, the fans would demand that we answer the other group back with a song of our own.. There was intense competition, but we had a limit as to how far it would go. As far as the fans are concerned, there were a lot of times that they would really get excited and take the rivalry too far. At times during the Scorpio/D.P rivalry, I was a little bit scared when I would play at the carnival because we had no way of controlling the fans. They were crazy. (Laughs) I even remember the Scorpio carnival song "Wache, wache kale yo", our fans would cut branches off of trees so that they could go meet D.P Express somewhere so that they could actually try to beat them. This thing went as far as the Haitian government. The military liked Scorpio and the Haitian white House liked D.P. (Laughs) Believe it or not, "Porky" and Henri Celestin are two of my best friends. We grew up together in the same neighborhood and there are things that I discuss with them that I don’t even talk to other friends about.

Q: Of all the singers that you’ve been associated with, which one do you think was the most talented?

A: Max Badette (Gypsies) is very talented. He has an old and new generation voice and he also writes very well. Ti Kit (Scorpio) was a very good animator. Freddie (Top Vice) is also very good at both, however Max Badette is the one who always astonished me.

Q: Tell us about the Gypsies reunion album that you are currently working on?

A: It’s going to be a bomb. Tico, Sinsin, Maxo and myself are all going to play on it. We are going to extend the grooves and add a new generation flavor to them. Reynaldo (T-Vice) will play the keyboards. It should be out this summer.

Q: How does it feel to have your kids follow you in the business? Did you encourage them to become musicians like you? Are you proud of what they’ve accomplished so far?

A: I encouraged them even though they lived far away from me when they were younger. They were in Haiti with their mother and I was in Florida. They would come spend the summer with me every year. I used to buy some guitar books for Roberto and talk to them about music. I even have pictures of them sleeping backstage behind the band when we were playing years ago. (laughs) I couldn’t even begin to explain how proud I am of my kids. It’s not worth any amount of money the pride and joy that they make me feel. I love them so much. (Gets emotional)

Q: To what extent do you believe that your name helped them when they started in the business, especially after the lukewarm response to their first album?

A: Of course my name has helped. I remember when they started in the business, I tried to introduce the T-Vice concept to a lot of producers. They did not understand where I was coming from at the time, except for the guys at Melodie Makers. They probably would have never touched them if it weren’t for my name. Now, the guys have come into their own. They are very big. They do their own music and if they need any advice, they give me a call.

Q: Did you ever think that they would become that popular?

A: I felt something. I could tell that they really wanted it. I could see it in their eyes. They really worked hard for where they are right now. Roberto is not the best singer in the world, but he has the ability to get the crowd in the palm of his hand and make them go crazy any time he feels like it. Reynaldo is one of the best at what he does on the keyboards.

Q: Is there anything new with your current group Top Vice?

A: We’re preparing a "Live" CD that deals with our last studio album. We will also be including some new songs/grooves on it.

Q: Is there any friction in the band? The talk around the industry is that you guys are always arguing with each other on stage and behind the scenes. There was even that incident between Freddie and Charlot.

A: There’s no friction in the band. It’s unfortunate that the incident that you are talking about happened in public, however it’s done and over with. We moved on. We’ve been together for fourteen years, so I don’t think that we will ever have a problem that we won’t be able to handle between ourselves.

Q: There is also talk that Top Vice will be adding a new singer in the future to sing next to Freddie. Can you confirm that?

A: Freddie is a musician who’s been with the band from the beginning. He has done a lot for the group. If something like that were to happen, I think it should be up to Freddie to decide something like that. He would have to bring it up first for us to discuss it and make a decision about it. It’s Freddie’s call.

Q: Another rumor going around is that Tuco Bouzi might join Top Vice. Will he?

A: (Surprised) I’ve never heard that rumor personally. This is the first time that I’m hearing this.

Q: Out of all the classic songs that you’ve written, which one is your personal favorite? Why?

A: My favorite is "Patience". I wrote it when I was playing with Gypsies. I wrote the whole song in exactly fifteen minutes. It’s a song that has helped me in life in terms of the words. That song "Patience" made the Gypsies.

Q: Which one of your songs do you think made the most impact? In other words, the most popular Robert Martino composition?

A: It was a song that I wrote while I was with the band Scorpio entitled "Map Mande Courage". It’s one of the most popular and requested songs in the Antilles to this day. It’s a classic. My most popular with the group Difficiles was a song entitled "Min Polo". As far as Top Vice is concerned, so far it’s "Vole l’anmou".

Q: Name your favorite Gypsies and Scorpio albums?

A: My favorite Gypsies album was our last one "La Tulipe". I was in New York away from my family. It brought back a lot of memories. My favorite Scorpio record was "Min Yayad La". I did a lot of work on that one, especially with the mouthtube that I used then.

Q: How would you like to be remembered when you retire from the business?

A: I would like for the musicians to remember the art of Haitian music. I want them to keep the originality of the music. I know a lot of musicians who would like to be like Wyclef and become rich. I don’t have a problem with that. I could’ve been rich playing Rock and Roll. I want them to maintain their country’s identity. There is money to be made with Haitian music. It’s not like before when I used to play for ten dollars per gig. I want Compas music to identify Haitian music around the world. As far as myself, I know that people appreciate the work that I’ve done. I have young Haitian kids that ask me for autographs a lot. I’m sure they’ve probably heard of me from their parents.

Q: Will you ever do a Rock album?

A: I had fifty thousand chances to do one because of my connections in that part of the market. I decided instead to put all of my inspiration into Haitian Compas music instead.

Q: Robert Martino, do you consider yourself a legend? Why?

A: (Laughs) Yes. I am a legend in the Haitian music industry. I’ve done a lot musically in the Haitian music industry. (Pauses for a second) I think I’m qualified.
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