Updated: Dec 31, 2020
From WXPN 88.5
Hugue-Robert Marsan/Courtesy of the artist
New York-based singer-songwriter Paul Beaubrun was born into the legendary musical family behind Boukman Eksperyans, one of Haiti's most famous bands. But in recent years, Paul has also made a name for himself as a solo artist thanks in part to two stellar albums under his own name and through collaborations with artists like Jackson Browne, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Jenny Lewis and Arcade Fire.
Paul Beaubrun's latest record, released in April, is called Rasanbleman (Red Moon). That's Haitian creole for "a large gathering." It's a reference to the group of nearly 30 musicians and artists who got together for the album's recording sessions in Jacmel, a picturesque beach city on the southern coast of Haiti. The group included some of Paul's family members and other celebrated Haitian artists like DJ Michael Brun, pop star J Perry and up-and-coming MCs TROUBLEBOY HITMAKER and Kanis.
"You can rasanble," Paul says. "You can get together spiritually. You can get together mentally. This is the time to get together actually, this is the time to look at the real relationship we have with ourselves and the relationship we have with others, with people that we love, people that we appreciate. Let's look at these relationships and try to make them better."
The 10 joyful and ecstatic studio recordings on Rasanbleman are steeped in the sounds of rock and reggae and punctuated with Haitian drums and rhythms. For the World Cafe, Paul tells the cosmic story behind the album's parenthetical subtitle, Red Moon, talks about the Haitian musical terms he wants listeners to learn and suggests that the current period of crisis and self-isolation is actually a time for gathering together.
This interview was conducted as part of the upcoming documentary KANAVAL: Haitian Rhythms and the Music of New Orleans in early 2021, produced by WXPN. KANAVAL: Haitian Rhythms and the Music of New Orleans has been supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.