Yves Rakotomalala Interview
Hey Yves, thank you very much for taking your time! I would like to ask you where did you grow up and what were some of the influences on you back then?
I grew up in Antananarivo,the main city of Madagascar,where I was born.My country was a former french colony.The radio programme at that time was mainly in french .When I followed the secondary courses,also in french,I had the opportunity to meet different guys from various countries,China ,Pakistan,France ,Usa,India, and listen to other music ,especially the english pop group of the late 60’s and 70’s.That’s why I took more interest in english courses at that time.
When did you first got involved with music?
I learned how to play the guitar,when I was 12 years old.It was my father’s one ,too big for me.Then I started to play the rythm guitar and do the background vocal.In 1967,I took part in “the Small Fortunes”,a band composed of french and malagasy musicians,and we won the radio contest after having played “Gimme some lovin'” fom the Spencer Davis Group, and “Come’on everybody” by Eddy Cochran I guess.
In 1975 you released your first LP with Serge & Victor called Cagibi. What do you remember from recording this LP?
The recording of “cagiby” was a hard job,for we didn’t have any mean to record it except a 2track- Revox,and instruments not very good.We’ve got to record the box of rice,as percussion, before cooking it.To tell the truth,”Cagibi” was the good reason to spend one summer week in Bordeaux ,with Serge whom I met in a military academy,3 years before,and Victor ,the singer of a group doin’ versions of the Rolling Stones,while I was the rythm guitar and the background vocal.He was also the responsible of releasing the album;
There were 300 copies according to him ,but I doubt it,and my copies didn’t have any cover artwork on.
Guerssen Records re-released it awhile ago. Did you like how they made it?
I really like the way Guerssen released it,it was unexpected,and as Serge said “it’s great that 30 years later others guys are goin’ to listen to it”
Who are Serge and Victor and what happened next for you and them?
I don’t have any idea where Victor could be since 1980;he moved to the island of Martinique and made the promotion of this album,made a lot of money,pretending that he wrote most of the songs included in this album As for Serge we lost contact during 29 years and thanks to the red we got in touch.He lives in Austin ,Texas and still doin’ concerts with his many bands thru the Usa.He’s a great multi-instumentist and one of my “Zoky be” ,elder brother who taught me how to handle with the music,not its business side .
In 1981 you released Ce Matin Encore. I would love if you could tell us some of the strongest memories from producing and recording this LP!
I made a bargain with the owner of studio recording,in the country side around Bordeaux ,where I moved.I came to fix anything ,re-roofing the garage,or cleaning the garden,and in exchange ,I could record some of my songs in this album I titled “Ce matin encore”.The band named “Rotten Roll” which backed me up was a new one,the members where university mates .The drummer has begun to play the drums 7 months before,and his drums got an horrible sound,but we didn’t give up and kept on recording ,the aim was to play as simple as possible.At that time,I used to play the acoustic guitar and listen a lot to Neil Young,whom I saw on stage 3 times,and I got the opportunity to shake his hand before his concert in Toulouse many years ago,and to thank him for his songs;
“Ce matin encore” relates the story of a former”patissier”,who decided to quit his boss and be his own one as a cardboard collector around the market place.I remember him because of this kind of Henry Fonda’s look he’s got,and one day he told me “I never look up but always down”,I still got it in mind.I didn’t have much money because I worked in a fruit dealer ,that’s why I met him and talk to him and I got the idea of putting his figure pushing his cart,on the cover.It was formerly designed by a friend who became an architect now and very fond of Gaudi’s buildings.The cover represents the market place in Bordeaux.
Golden Pavilion re-released this LP. Are you satisfied how it turned out to be?
Golden Pavillion made a good job in re-designing it and once again for me it was unexpected.The art designer has even put on line some of the songs under my real name Yves Rakotomalala.
Later in the 90’s you released many albums and you also have a new one out. I would like if you could share a few words about your releases!
I’ve shortened my name because here in France they don’t take the time to spell it correctly.After having composed a lot of songs ,I made up my mind to form my own band,and after many attempts,6 bands at least, I worked to earn money and take the decision to record again ,this time singing in my mother tongue ,the malagasy.The first song called “Indray andro”(one day I’ll get back to my hometown,respecting those who lived and stayed there),reached the 5th ranking out of 100 songs played in “Hot hundred Pioneer Radio ” in Tokyio,and the album was released by JVC.A video backed up the promotion of the album.
But the french record company faced bankrupcy,and I couldn’t do anything except writing songs at home.I had to wait more than 2 years to sign again in an other record company Eastwest, Warner which released my album titled “Zandry kely” (little brother);This album was arranged and recorded with computers, I really prefer the way I play my songs now and share them with musicians to play live on stage.
Would you like to present your new album, called Buskers?
“Buskers” reflects this state of mind.I played with english musicians ,as well as spanish,french ,malagasy,africans,moroccans,americans. Basques musicians gave me a hand to record it.That’s why I played a “métisse” music certainly The history of Madagascar shows that arabs,bantous,africans and people from Indonesia have come in this country,before the portuguese,the english,the dutch, the french,and we ‘ve inherited a bit of these various cultures that make us respectful of the others and open to their cultures.
you can read the presentation of this album made by OJO Music Madrid, the distributor in Spain,on my website;I like this presentation.
Where all have you played?
I played in France ,Spain and Madagascar,but my songs were airplayed in 47 countries according to my rights fo author.
What are some of your future plans?
I’ m writing my next album while giving some concerts,here in the south of France where I live and in Spain .But times are tough now in the field of music too,and we all hope they will be better soon.
Interview made by Klemen Breznikar/2011
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