Mélissa Laveaux

Radyo Siwél

Indie Rock | Alternative | Folk

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2018

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PREMIERE: Indie rocker Mélissa Laveaux explores her Haitian roots on the unforgettable ‘Radyo Siwèl’

March 23, 2018
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Raised in Canada by Haitian parents, Haiti has always been an important part of Mélissa Laveaux’s identity. The singer and guitarist returned to her roots in 2016 and became immersed in the history and folk music, exploring recordings, and notebooks of old songs. Radyo Siwél was born out of that need to reconnect with her history. The album interprets traditional Haitian songs through Laveaux’s diasporic lens, inspired in part by the experiences of Haitians during the US occupation from 1915 to 1934. As Laveaux explains:

“At heart, I think I am at my best when I share stories – Haitians got jokes for days. Radyo Siwèl is my interpretation of how the US military occupation of Haiti 1915-34 might have felt like, using mostly traditional Haitian songs. Some are from my childhood, some came to me after a great deal of reading and research, and some were compositions by songwriters who really fought back against the oppressive weight of the Occupation with the mocking humour, dry wit, and infectious melodies.”

The album’s highlights are often when Laveaux and her collaborators pull out the most unlikely threads from the songs, like the surf rock strains in “Kouzen” and the early 60’s Motown nods of “Tolalito.” But the comparatively lo-fi “LaSirèn LaBalèn” and the raw “Jolibwa” stick closer to a traditional interpretation of the songs for some of Radyo Siwél‘s most striking moments. It’s an album that’s born out of occupation, displacement, and homesickness that’s almost unbearably joyful and effortlessly fun. Mélissa Laveaux has created something totally unforgettable with Radyo Siwél. Stream it below, and check out her web series exploring how it all came together on Youtube.

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