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Interview: Tiwony

Interview: Tiwony

Interview: Tiwony

By on - Photos by Franck Blanquin - Comment

"We are dynamic. I make music with passion. I'm not subject to the calculations of record companies"  


Tiwony is a Guadeloupe-born artist, active since the 90s, and a member (with Black Kimbo Original B Lyaï, Luzdi and Fefe Typical) of Blackwarell Sound System, Champion Sound System of France in 2003, which he has led since 1999. His new album 'Cité Soleil' was released in May. It's a very heterogeneous album which allows us to appreciate the talent of Tiwony, as it evolves from reggae to dancehall to gwo ka to nyabinghi and beyond...


Your new album 'Cité Soleil' was recently released. Who worked on it with you?

First, I worked with my usual crew : Blackwarell, which is my family. It is a label, a collective and a soundsystem. I started this album before my mix tape 'Viv La Vi'. I wanted something different, something I could take to a higher level.

D & H production, brithers from Rennes who are a composing duo and also do a lot of remixes, worked with me on Never Give Up with Konshens. They also mixed several tracks. They are very versatile and have produced riddims with very different styles.

Tyrone Downie (ex Wailers), did arrangements on several tracks (My continent, So Special).

There are also productions by my cousin Original B who is part of Blackwarell, some by Scandalize from Guyana who is part of the group Damaniak, then Kaprisson who also made one instrumental, as well as Jaly Beats, Jean Marc Guiose and Don Dada ...

In the end we tried to make something open and have fun with everything.

This album was recorded and composed by France, Jamaica and Africa.

Which guests feature on the album ?

Tiwony - Cité SoleilMy father Vicky Edimo, did the track So Special about mothers. There's also Konshens with the track Never Give Up.

Then there's Winston McAnuff, who was like a father to me in Jamaica. He first brought me there to do the mix, and he found himself in the studio when we mixed a track. He liked the vibes of the song and we decided to do a duet. He sang it in an original way.

I did a song with Anthony B and Gyptian, which began with an Anthony B demo. He suggested I could sing on it with him. The track was remixed by Marc from Animal sound. Speedy, a brother and very promising singjay, is also present on the album.

Da Brain from Senegal I met at the studio from Dider Awadi (Positive Black Soul), has recorded African Whine. It’s a big tune now in Senegal.

The guest appearances happened as and when we met. Nothing was planned in advance, in general it is an exchange.

Even Bob Marley showed us the way without limits. It is more often in France that there are fixed genres. And it does not serve the music

On this album you worked with your father(successful bassist Vicky Edimo), how did you find working with him? 

We did one track together. He also did some backing vocals, and was musical director on some songs.

We were partners. After seeing I took music seriously, he accepted I could do it for a living job, although he knows that even successful musicians don't make much of a living. We do great things together whether recording music or playing on stage like at the "Festival des Arts Nègres" that took place in Senegal.

There is a wide diversity of sound on this album, it seems like you have no musical  limits?

TiwonyIt's all about the vibes. I grew up with lots of different music. All of which inspires my flow.

I've never had boundaries. I listen to zouk, rap, R'n'B. During a trip to Jamaica, I realized that even in the motherland of reggae music, the brothers listened to a lot of different things.

Even Bob showed us the way without limits. It is more often in France that there are fixed genres. And it does not serve the music.

Will you perform this new album live?

I do have dates for the album. There is a tour with Turbulence and on June 9th, I did doing a very special gig at Cabaret Sauvage in Paris.

"Cité Soleil" is the name of a district in Haiti. Is the choice of this title a way of paying tribute to the Haitian people, affected by an earthquake in 2010?

I came up with the title before the earthquake, but it's also a way to pay tribute to the Haitian people. “Cité Soleil“ is one of the largest ghettos in the Caribbean. I saw a documentary "Ghosts of Cité Soleil" produced by Wyclef Jean (of the Fugees), which touched me deeply. We see people like this every day. As I always say, "much love and so much hatred." I also wanted to big up every ghetto in the world.

I'm going over there for a charity show. I had very good vibes with the  people. The song "Pitit Toussaint" was made in direct response to the earthquake. Haiti has a special place in history thanks to Toussaint Louverture, who is known for being the first Black leader to have defeated the forces of a European colonial empire in his own country, and establish the "First Republic of a black people "

As I always say, "much love and so much hatred." I also wanted to big up every ghetto in the world

You are very productive and  active on the Internet (myspace, skyblog, facebook ...) and always offer us new tracks, some even for free download. Do you think this  is a way out of the music industry crisis?

We are dynamic. I make music with passion. I'm not subject to the calculations of record companies. When I like a riddim, I make a song. Every day we try to do different things. Internet is a new communication tool to interact with the public, so it helps to have a fast turnaround of new tracks. I've made contacts throughout the world through the internet - in Chile, the USA and I have even done shows in Canada.

What is the future of music today and more specifically the reggae  and Caribbean music scenes?

We always have had to cope with the crisis in the world of reggae music, so this are just little changes. We can now benefit from new broadcast networks, which allows us to move forward in parallel.

There may be a lack of structure which could be improved on the business side. In the Caribbean the talent is there - we have to sort the logistics.

When I see the lineups of the major reggae festivals in France, I wonder why they are inviting artists from Jamaica when they could schedule an evening just with Francophone artists. Their loss. Promoters should not be afraid to invest on the French artists.


You supported French hiphop group NTM for their 2009 reunion. How did it feel to open for them and how did it come about?

NTM for me was always anti Establishment. They have always been an sinpiration for me, through their lyrics and their music. They always said aloud what others thought and whispered. We had already worked with Joey Starr producing BOSS (Boss Of Scandalz Strategyz) and the Ragga Connection compilations. I also opened the Joey show in Olympia. It was a new audience for me but I got very good feedback from the public.

After the success of the first 2 albums, will there be a new album in collaboration with Fefe Typical?

We are always together and we already have new songs. But we are not ultimately a group. We might do things together but we have two distinct careers. This is my big brother, so he was one of the first to hear this album and give his assessment.

Visiting Africa was more about my spiritual journey and identity. I wanted to set foot in the cradle of humanity

You travel a lot. You have pictures on your myspace of you in Jamaica, in Africa and Haiti. How do you choose your destinations?

I often leave the country to do music, to record or play a show.

But visiting Africa was more about my spiritual journey and identity. I wanted to set foot in the cradle of humanity.

 I've also been to islands like St. Martin, Antigua and St. Thomas for  “gatherings “of all the houses of Rastafari (Nyabinghi, Bobos ...) for prayer, Bible studies, and to discuss future prospects for the Rastafarian movement. It was outside of music, but often I developed relationships that eventually led to professional projects.

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