T-Vice: Promoting the Haitian Culture for 25 Years and Counting

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By Sarah Brutus @sarahprworldwide

Photos by Mackinley “Spex” Madhre @spexphoto

What made you guys want to start T-Vice?

T-Vice came to us. We didn’t go searching for the group or the name. It was something that was just supposed to be. It was in our blood. By growing up looking at our dad and having music in our blood, we knew that sooner or later it was going to be our turn.

T-Vice came to us. It was in our blood.

How did the band start?

The band started with just me and my brother, Reynaldo. We used to just be tripping around, me with a little guitar and him with a small keyboard, just playing tunes that were popular at the time. We started playing at talent shows that at our school would host, which was the American Academy at that time in Haiti. From there we started performing at parties and continued to climb the ladder.

How did the band get its name?

The name came from Top Vice. Everywhere we went, because we were so small, people would say this is a Ti Vice. My dad was playing in Top Vice at the time, so we were in a sense related to Top Vice. So we took out the “I” in ti and added the dash, and that’s how we got T-Vice.

Did you guys always know that music was going to be your lifetime career?

Yes. We felt it when we were growing up and in school. We would always get in trouble because we would constantly be in the back of the class performing some song and trying to play music. So we always knew that one day it would be our turn.

What do you think has allowed you guys to last so long in the business?

We understand the business. We always innovate. We’re always reinventing ourselves and we always try to see what the market needs, what sounds are going with the market and adapting to that. Not only that, but our management team, the way we respect our fans, our discipline and strategies – all that comes into effect and has added to our longevity.

What is it like having your mom as a manager?

It’s an advantage and disadvantage. Sometimes you might not agree with something, but the fact that the person is your mom [means that] you can’t just put it out there just anyhow. You have to approach things very carefully, because it’s a family running the business. The best part about it is that our mom is always on our side. She always wants the best for us. My mom is never going to take from me, so I am able to sleep at night knowing that I am in good hands. She always wants to bring us further and find bigger opportunities for the band. So there is definitely more good than bad.

What CD or song are you most proud of?

Well there are many songs and many CDs. We have nine studio discs. It’s like asking a parent which is their favorite child. Each song has a place in our hearts. There are some songs that are very popular and people know, and there are some that are not so popular and have special meaning for us. But I would say that all of our music has a special place in our hearts.

If you weren’t doing music, what would you be doing in life?

If I wasn’t doing music, I would be a part-time businessman and part-time soccer player. I’m so passionate about soccer. But apart from that, we grew up in a business family in Haiti, so maybe something along those lines.

What is your most memorable performance?

We have so many good memories. I would start with Kanaval in Haiti. We were crowned champion many times. And certain bals and festivals. There have been lots of good memories. A lot of big shows in the States, Canada, Martinique, Guadeloupe, and New Caledonia, which we traveled about 40 hours to get to and sold out the stadium for 3 days back to back with more than 10,000 people. Also, Columbia, Panama, Venezuela. All of these were wonderful memories, and we have so much more to visit in the future.

What advice do you have for young/new bands starting out?

My advice would be to stay focused, stay away from drugs, and try to find a sound that will differentiate you from the pack. Also stay humble. Stay true to yourself.

If you know you have the talent, you will get your chance. Be patient.

What do you wish you knew back then that you know now?

What I know is that in this business, you have to deal with everyone. You have to be a diplomat. You have to know everybody for who they are, and you always have to stay humble. Because at the end of the day, it’s all about the music. It’s all about creating good music. Don’t worry about all the propaganda out there and whether people are trying to bash you or trying to take you down. If you have good music, stay focused and you keep on working and reinventing yourself, no one can stop you. Only yourself.

What has been the hardest part of the business?

The hardest part is the traveling, always being away from your family. Especially on big occasions and the holidays. Apart from that, we love what we’re doing and we love everything about the business. Besides the gossip and rumors, we don’t focus on that. We focus on the positive side of the business.

Favorite Food?

Haitian food! Although I don’t get to eat it a lot, because it is fattening. But griot, banan, and diri kole.

What do you guys do for fun when you’re not travelling and touring?

What I try to do is spend time with my daughter. Play a little soccer, try and mingle with friends. If I can, do a movie or go to a lounge and chill. I try to spend time with family as much as I can when I’m not traveling.

What motivates you to keep putting out music?

Even after 25 years in the business, we’re still as motivated as if it was Day 1. We still feel that even though we’ve been in the business for a while, we still have a lot to give. We have a lot of good music in us, a lot of inspiration left in us. We started young, we’re still young, and we have a lot more to offer.

What do you hope to see for the HMI in the future?

I hope to see a much more united HMI. We as musicians need to start doing more than just for ourselves. I would like to see less hypocrisy in the business. This is one of the things holding us back.

Where do you see T-Vice in the next 10 years?

In the next 10 years, I hope to see a T-Vice that has a wider audience. We want to do so many more collabs and try to bring compas to a bigger audience. This is our goal for the years to come. Also to continue to be a top band in the HMI.

Craziest fan moment?

I remember in Canada one time, two sisters came up to me backstage and practically took off their clothes because they were so happy to see us and so in love. It was one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen in my life. For the amount of love that these girls were showing me and wanted to prove to me that they were happy to see me and would do anything. That was one of the craziest moments, and there’s more till this day. But it’s part of the business, and we take it for what it is.

Any last words?

Thank you to Haiti Open for honoring us with this cover for our 25th year anniversary. Thank you, Sarah, for the questions, which I enjoyed answering. Thank you to the fans for always supporting us – and keeping on believing in this band and pushing us even further. We are very grateful. Thank you so much – and we’re just starting! This is just the beginning, and we have a lot more to offer.

Haiti Open Summer 2017 Magazi