I start streaming Wake me Up Rara Tech Remix by Gardy Girault on my iPhone. As I walk away from the car, I immediately start dancing, hands in the air, walking towards the foot of the river. At first I am the only one dancing to the sounds, and that is ok with me. But, within approximately 1 minute, several others start moving their bodies too, subtly, in a uniform groove. Yes, including my professors. "What is this?!", their facial expressions ask. By the 2nd minute of the song, people get out of the river. They set their books aside, they come out of their tents, and form a sea of moving, grooving, jiving bodies, electrified and unified by the Rara tech sounds. They are exhilarated by the sounds of Haiti. By the time the song ends, it is clear that the crowd is quite literally hungry for more. My classmates scream "More, more!". Something in their spirits awoken. It was my pleasure to oblige this request.
Man, music is such a beautiful thing. Who would've guessed that Haitian Rara tech would reach the wilderness of deep southern Oregon, which lies in the western most state of the U.S, thousands of miles from the place of its origin. This is the effect of Gardy's music. It touches people. It transcends boundaries. It awakens us. It makes us move.
As I mentioned a few months ago, I was introduced to Gardy's music, by my friend Daphnee, during a RAM concert in Haiti, which took place last December at La Reserve. I was introduced to something so different, so unique. How special this new sound was! I was immediately hooked. It's rare that I vibe so hard with an artist's music that I crave to know more about the artist, but this is one of those cases. It is such a treat to be able to get to know the artist behind art that I love. More than rhythmic sounds set to the backdrop of the tambou and deep electronic beats, Gardy's music asks questions and tells stories. It has a very clear voice.
Meet a man who loves his country and mixes beats for her, to showcase her beauty and strength to the world. In this interview, I get to introduce you to Gardy Girault.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Gardy Girault. I was born and raised in Port-au-Prince Haïti and I still live there.
Listening to your songs and watching you spin live, it is very clear that music runs deeply through your veins and that you love what you do. How did you discover house music? What is it about house music that resonates with you?
I discovered House Music when i was a teenager at a friend's house. His big brother had a large collection of vinyls and CDs. But I really experienced it in a club in NY. I was 14 :)
Since the first time I heard that sound, it was clear to me that we were a part of its fusion and I finally confirmed it a few years ago, indeed.
I was carried away by the steady, uniformly accented beat in 4/4 time, in which the bass drum is hit on every beat, just like disco and rasin, allowing you to add other elements.
I love your blend of house music with various genres of Haitian music. Your "No Passport" parties serve as a way to re-unite the people through mystical and spiritual blends, featuring beats and melodies from various cultures, mixed in with electronic house music. In songs like "Young and Beautiful Remix", we hear a "Western" song set to a background of rhythmic drums. Yet, in songs like "Lakay", we hear stunning Haitian percussion and song, this time set to a background of house music. You give us both. This what you call RaRa tech, yes? What would you say is the magic that lies in the tambo? How does it inspire you?
Yes I call it Rara Tech; the fusion of House or Techno with traditional rhythms of my country. The drum, the tambou, is a symbol of Haitian music since the time of our ancestors. It is the essence of our music. It's in our blood. It springs naturally without expectation. This is the magic that lies in the tambou.
I love art and I love the different elements revolution, so I am particularly interested in artistic forms of revolution through the expression of revolutionary ideas, and in your case, revolutionary sound. In an interview with JustGo, you said, "Our culture is our true strength and that's something that our leaders are slow to understand".
One of the many things I like about your music is that you give us club-bangers and dance hits like Wake Me Up Rara Tech Remix (my personal favorite). But you also give us songs like "Piout, Piout" ft. Boukman Eksperyans, where mid-song, you hear a glorious cry "peyi yo pou yo, y'ap fe sa yo vle" (Translation from Haitian Creole: "The country [Haiti] is for them. They'll do what they want.).
Talk to us about the motivation behind your art form?
Hmm…motivation. That's a deep question. There are so many sources. I can say the lack of recognition of our music, our rich culture, our values, our spirituality, our unique history leading to this unique present situation we are in. I am driven by the taste to make something unique, different and of course not to forget our third-world country status.
In Sounds of Solidarity: Haiti's Dance Music Movement, you say "No one can be prouder than me to be Haitian. No one." What a beautiful statement, that rings true in your music. This may be an obvious question for you. But, what do you love about Haiti? What do you hope to give to the people of Haiti?
Everything. It's like loving you mom, but you don't know exactly why. Haïti is so unique. Love it or hate it. I receive so much from my fellow countrymen, and I hope to give them the best example of the ideal Haitian.
What are some things we can expect from you?
Continue my tour, my upcoming album, and many other projects.
Thank you Gardy!
Connect with Gardy here!