His two consecutive albums: ‘MOZAIC KREYOL [Creole Mosaic]‘ (2003) and ‘TOUCHER L’HORIZON [Touch The Sky]‘ (2006) have both been greeted with general acclaim in the Greater Antilles as well as in the Western Countries and more precisely in France, where TriniJungleJuice met the artist on the occasion of his European tour.
TJJ: Admiral T, thank you so much for this first interview you are giving to TriniJungleJuice.com : now, how would you introduce yourself to those who don’t know you as yet? Can you tell us a little bit about the story behind your stage name and your musical influences?
Admiral T: well, I am a Creole reggae/dancehall singer from Guadeloupe. I grew up in Guadeloupe and I still live up there. I started singing very early: at the age of 12 (in 1993) and as for my stage name ‘Admiral T’, it precisely goes back to that period when people used to take different pseudonyms in vogue at the time, you know, like for instance all the ‘Admirals’, the ‘Ranks’ (for Shabba Ranks, Cutty Ranks, etc..) so I’ve composed this name ‘Admiral T’ with the letter ‘T’ which stands for my first name: ‘Christy’. And being from the island of Guadeloupe, which is quite a musical crossroads, I would say that I’ve been influenced by different music genres like salsa, African and Jamaican music, but also by zouk, etc..
TJJ: ‘TOUCHER L’HORIZON [Touch the Sky]‘ is your second album and your success is always getting bigger: did it contribute to give you more self-confidence to tackle certain themes today?
Admiral T: in concrete terms, I wouldn’t say that it gave me more self-confidence to tackle whatever themes I needed to tackle. You know, when I decided to become a singer it was mainly because I felt that I had certain things to say. I didn’t decide to start singing just because I had seen seen this particular artist on television, or anything else..I think I’ve always said what I had on my mind, because it’s the music that allowed me to exteriorize it and nothing else. It’s not this particular album or my growing success that gave me self-confidence. You know I do reggae and dancehall music, which are genres that convey a message, so if I started making this music it’s really because I felt that I had certain things to say and not just for fun.
TJJ: Talking about reggae and dancehall, do you think there are certain themes more specific to those music genres?
Admiral T: yes, I think reggae music itself is a music that contains a message: it’s essentially about peace in the world, love, respect..as for me, these are especially the moral values that I’m fighting for, since these are the ones that my parents passed onto me as I was growing up in the guetto of Boissard. You know I come from a very large family of ten children and I’ve always wanted to convey a message of love, respect, tolerance and nonviolence in my songs. For me it’s the most important thing, the angle may change according to the piece of music, but the message definitely remains the same.
TJJ: As somebody who collaborated with lots of different artists from the West Indies: what is your view on the communication between caribbean artists, generally speaking?
Admiral T: to me we always need more communication and this is my very will. This was the reason why on my first album entitled ‘ MOZAIK KREYOL’[creole mosaic] and released in 2003, I’ve collaborated with many artists like Square One from Barbados and Allison Hinds that everybody knows..Wyclef Jean also invited me on his album. I’ve collaborated with Kassav and TOK from Jamaica, and you know in this one song with TOK, this is exactly what it’s all about when we say:” we want a union like European for the Caribbean..” you see, I think that either in Jamaica, in Trinidad, in Barbados or in other islands, we all share the same History and the only thing that really separates us are the waters: we need to get together, because it’s unity that makes the strenght. And I am not saying that in order to try to drift away from France because to me, we Guadelupians, are already geographically away enough. We’re still french, but we are first and foremost Caribs. We share so many things in common with other islands and I think it’s a little bit deplorable that we do not have enough communication. In my opinion either politically, humanly or musically speaking, we still have lots of things to build, and I especially think about the relationships between the french West Indies and the English/Hispanic Caribbean, because it’s true to a certain extent that we remain kept apart from the other islands, even when we don’t necessarily want it. I think it would be good to make connections, so that we you go for example to Jamaica and you say that you come from Guadeloupe, people know that it is an island off the coast of Dominica and don’t just look at you like they can’t tell where you exactly come from.
TJJ: During the Garance Reggae Festival of Paris in 2004 you have been noticed for your undeniable stage effect, and you’ve been qualified as ”electric”: where do you get all that energy from?
Admiral T: [laughs] sincerly speaking, I don’t know what to tell you about that one..I take ”electric” as a compliment! You know I come from a very large family, we lived in the guetto so when you have a guetto life, it’s everything except quietness. In the guetto you can’t stand too still, plus I come from a family where we love sports,… but moreover I think that when I get on stage, I just like to make the crowd jump. I know that these people have been waiting for me, so even when I’m not feeling too well, even when I’m feeling tired before a show and I tell my wife that I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it this time, this thing just happens when I come on stage: all of the sudden I feel much better and just ready for the show..and you know, I do feel God must truly be the power behind the scenes..
TJJ: What is according to you ‘TOUCHER L’HORIZON [to Touch the Sky]‘ and why did you pick it as your album title?
Admiral T: ‘TOUCHER L’HORIZON[Touch the Sky]‘ is already a song title itself on the album and it means quite a lot to me. It’s an expression full of imagery and as we know: you can’t really touch the sky concretely, but it’s just a figurative way of saying to all the people, the youth listening, that no matter in what field you are, you must always have the will to go further and not just stick around and take things for granted. But you must try to go the higher you can, and if I’m saying that, it’s mainly because people tend to make us believe that in the West Indies we are known for being idle, so we will never make it like Americans for example..there is also the necessity to speak english, because if you don’t, you can’t hit it big and everything..you know, I’ve been talking with Wyclef Jean recently and he told me how proud he was to represent Haiti all around the world, even when people consider it as a poor country, it just proves that no matter where you come from, you can always make it once you give yourself the chance to succeed. And this is precisely the message that I stand for in my album: a message of work. People need to work to achieve their goals, this is what I call to ‘Touch the Sky’.
TJJ:Does this album represent a particular turning point in your artist’s career?
Admiral T: You know, for me each album (either ‘MOZAIK KREYOL’ or ‘TOUCHER L’HORIZON’) means a lot, since when I get to buy an album myself I consider it like something almost sacred in the sense that when you buy an album today, you should be able to listen to this same album ten years after..you feel me? Every artist’s dream is to make a classic and as for me, when I listen today again to Sizzla’s album: ‘BLACK WOMAN AND CHILD’ I’m just feeling proud to have it. I know for sure that I didn’t waste my money on it, because I really bought the album of a person that did a great job. So this is an image I’ve always kept in my mind when I was working on my albums: it has to be a good concept, it’s not just a set list of songs randomly picked and compiled together, but I like to take my time when it comes to making albums. I don’t just write songs out of obligation.
TJJ:You are literally on all fronts: in the music as well as on screen, and you even started your own clothing line, WOK LINE: what else can we expect from you in the near future?
Admiral T: [laughs] well, I think that’s already quite a lot! That’s already quite a lot, but then again when I say so I actually mean that I like when things are well done! I take as an example my clothing line: WOK LINE. WOK actually means ‘rock’ , it’s written in creole and it’s just another way for me to spread the same message that I already spread in my music. It’s not just a simple clothing line but it’s literally a state of mind and for me Wok Line is associated with positivity, humility and strength ( the image of the rock comes straight from there). Anyone can wear Wok Line, it’s urban chic, but what I do hope for these people is to always bear these moral values in mind, you know…as I often say, if you see somebody wearing WOK LINE and misbehaving, you should take them to task..this is the kind of concept we are willing to develop for WOK LINE.
As for the cinema I must say that I’ve loved to play in that movie: ‘NEG’MARRON’ by Jean-Claude Barny. It was my first experience ever as an actor and it’s really the first time that I’ve been doing something else than music, that I felt was definitely my thing. People also loved the movie and I’m really glad they did. Why not do it again when I get the occasion to? Jean-claude Barny proposed me an interesting movie project to work on, so maybe by 2008-2009 we’ll be ready for shooting..but I can’t really talk about it for the moment..
TJJ: You are on TriniJungleJuice.com, the caribbean flavoured website promoting the culture worldwide: do you have a special message?
Admiral T: Big Up TriniJungleJuice!! and we’re actually doing the same kind of work, you know..you guys are working on the spread of caribbean culture just like we artists do it on stage. And you know I’m really glad to see that we do not stand alone and that there are other committed people like TriniJungleJuice.com, who are truly working on ways to take the culture worldwide and further forward! Peace.
For more information, visit lesite.artistes.universalmusic.fr/