To hear New Jersey-born balladeer Adoniz sing his song “Time” is like listening to a pick on a Quiet Storm playlist on your local R&B oldies station. There is an absence of bumping and grinding references. But, there’s plenty of romantic lines about longing, regret and emotional loss. “No more picnics by the sea/Still, I dream of a love so free”, he sings, recounting the story of a romance that’s neither out of mind, nor out of the heart.
“Tonight” brings back the sensuality from late 1990’s boy group ballads, but with the carelessness of dance music from the dawn of the 21st Century. “Get Loose” is right on “Tonight’s” tail in terms of mixing pop playfulness with a heavy R&B production.
Kreyolicious: You’re a performer, a songwriter and a producer. This is an advantage, for sure. Is it ever a disadvantage?
Being a performer, songwriter, and producer is definitely an advantage. However, it can also be my Achilles heel because I want to do everything. It’s hard sometimes to just take a backseat and let another producer or songwriter create songs for me.
Kreyolicious: I was kinda surprised when I read that your dad was one of your main supporters with your musical career. I mean, I thought it was cool that he was cool with it.
My dad is definitely a cool dude, but is still an old school Haitian. His support of my music came because I did it while not neglecting my education and he realized I was good at it, my passion for it was immeasurable. For him, when he creating an orchestra with his own money, it was to keep his children and other children from the church busy and out of trouble. At 9, he gave me a pair of drum sticks and said, “Do your thing.” I’m doing my thing.
Kreyolicious: You started off playing the drums and piano while at church. At which point did you feel that the mainstream was a sector you were very much interested in?
I thank God for my gift of music and my church for letting me showcase it. My interest in mainstream music, however, came to me in high school under the tutelage of Kenneth Cece Rogers. He gave me a mic, put me on stage and said, “Do your thing.”
Kreyolicious: Did you take any music courses while at school?
I did take some jazz piano classes though at the Newark Community School of the arts. I took music classes in school. Electives I could sleep through and still get awesome grades.
Kreyolicious: Funny! When you think back to your childhood…the elementary school years…what sort of musical genres and artists did your folks listen to the most?
Thinking back to my childhood my parents listened to artists like Kenny Rogers, Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder, and of course Michael Jackson.
Kreyolicious: Do you think that had a bearing on your own artistry?
Yes, I do. I think it had bearing on my own artistry because it planted a profound appreciation for the classic artists whose music is loved today and will be loved for days to come.
Kreyolicious: What was your first stage performance like?
My first stage performance was nerve wrecking. I was confused, forgot all my words, I hummed all the verses and turned up on the hooks [Laughter].
Kreyolicious: Looking back now, how do you feel about it?
How I felt about it? Let’s just say it was an experience. [Laughter]
Kreyolicious: Growing up in New Jersey…were you influenced at all by local bands and acts?
I grew up in church under Wyclef Jean, Jerry Wonder, Joe and a few other members in the Refugee Camp. That had great influence on me. Watching these guys play and learning the essence of music from them and then watching them make it was inspiring to my own career.
Kreyolicious: Cool…Now with a song like “Tonight”…how did it come about?
”Tonight” is a fun song and its origin came from just wanting to have fun.
Kreyolicious: “Get Loose” was among one of your first singles. How did that one originate?
“Get Loose”—that’s my jam song. [humming the melody] The energy of that song is the reason why we made it the single. It’s fun, musical and relatable—all in the same breath. It has elements of pop, R&B, dance, hip-hop and trance. Something for everyone. The only thing I didn’t do to that record was throw the kitchen sink at it. [Laughter]
Kreyolicious: A lot of artists go around with creative journals and recorders. Have you ever been caught off guard creatively…like you got this really awesome idea for a melody or a verse…things started flowing, and no journal or recorder was in sight…and the inspiration just died?
I never got into the habit of carrying a creative journal, so—trust and believe—I’ve forgotten more ideas then I’ve created. [Laughter] However, if an idea was burning a hole in my brain and I wasn’t in the studio, I’d leave myself a voicemail or make use of the voice note apps in my phone.
Kreyolicious: Your interest in music begun as a nine-year-old. What if you were approached by a precocious nine-year-old right now…and was asked: “Gee, Adoniz, how do I perfect my craft?” Your answer would be…
My answer would be, “Wax on wax off”, and walk away with the ill serious face. [Laughter] Sike, nah. I’d tell that precious nine-year-old [that] the only way to perfect your craft is to be true to the passion you have for that craft and be consist in consistently working at the things that make your craft special.
Kreyolicious: Good advice…How do you stay connected to Haitian culture?
I stay connected to my culture by making sure my Creole is untouchable. I’m a beast. I love griyo. OMG, I’m such a fat kid ohhhhh and lanbi, kremas, lalo, djonjon, mabi, and the list goes on. Yeah, I stay connected through the food. [Laughter]
Kreyolicious: Is Haiti a place you go to often?
Haiti is an amazing and beautiful country. I need to visit more.
Kreyolicious: What’s next for Adoniz?
What’s next? Adoniz is going to continue on with expanding his musical space and fan base. New projects on the horizon—in and outside—of music.