Paul Beaubrun heads the reggae-roots band Zing Experience. The son of two musicians/performers—Theodore “Lòlò” Beabrun Jr. and Mimerose “Manzè” Pierre Beaubrun of the legendary, controversial Grammy-nominated band Boukman Eksperyans—the young Beaubrun grew up with drum beats, guitar riffs and bamboo trumpets in the background.
Beaubrun is also the grandson of Theodore Beaubrun, a legendary theater and TV actor in Haiti and the pioneer of the Haitian sit-com. Being the seed of such a rich entertainment legacy, it isn’t surprising that he decided to follow down the entertainment path his parents and grandparents took decades before he was born. He is a singer-songwriter, producer, guitarist and plays the drums as well.
Zing Experience has released its debut album Project Haiti on the Peacetones label. The 10-track album leans towards hip-hop as much as it has reggae-roots tendencies. The band recently traveled to California for a mini-tour, and plans appearances and performances in Boston, New York, Norway and Haiti.
Q & A
How did members of the band come together?
Well, I met my wife Cynthia Casasola in New York in 2005 and we decided to form the band together. In September 2006, we had our first big show at the legendary Sugar Bar. And I went to Haiti in 2007. I found some musicians [there]. And Zing Experience performed in Haiti until November 2009. The members are still together at the present moment.
Your family is one of Haiti’s first families of entertainment. Did you pretty much know from the get-go that you were going into show business?
When I was small, I always wanted to be a professional soccer player or make it to the NBA. I used to play music at a young age with my parents, but it was not until my teenage years that I decided that I wanted to be a musician.
Your grandfather is considered the father of Haitian television, and a pioneer of many sorts. What memories do you have of him?
My grandfather is my hero. I remember him; he was very observant. You would never know if he was in a room. Very wise and humble. I studied my grandfather in primary school in Haiti while he was still alive and I told him about it. Me and my grandfather always thought that was funny!
This new album entitled Project Haiti…what can you tell us about it?
First, I want to thank Projecthaiti.org for helping us to record this album in Tromso, Norway. It is a very personal album, with lyrics and music totally coming from our hearts. It is truly what we feel and we are fully satisfied with it. And we hope the people can relate to it as well.
Was it difficult coming up with the songs?
Most of these songs, we had them for a long time. I would not say it what difficult but it came from a true place.
Your parents head the roots band Boukman Eksperyans. What’s the best advice that they’ve given you about life and music?
Always stay true to myself and open myself up to the world and try to reach it.
You actually play an instrument, the guitar.
Yes, I love the guitar. My dad bought me an acoustic guitar when I was thirteen and I started to play a little and he also showed me a Jimi Hendrix documentary and I went crazy! But my first instrument that I played was tanbou—[the drum] and still play.
Bob Marley is obviously an influence, as are your parents. But which other musical talents have inspired you as an artist?
Jimi Hendrix, Sade, Nina Simone, Led Zeppelin, Tiken jah Fakoli, Fela Kuti, almost all the blues and Rasin artists, Azor etc…so many others
Are there any songs on the album that you have a particular attachment to?
Not really; but I would say Project Haiti for the sensibility and message for Haiti. And it has a beautiful choir by young Haitian children. Check it out!
Between songwriting, recording and touring, is it hard finding a balance?
No, not at all. That is why I love this business. It keeps you on the edge and you have to deliver all the time. You have to stay productive.
Are you pleased with the way your album Project Haiti has been received thus far?
Yes. We are very pleased so far; everywhere that we go, people give us great feedback and say that we have a very unique sound. The album release party at Webster Hall[in New York] was a big success; there was a great turn out. We sold many CDs and we had a great performance. We want to say a big thank you to everyone who helped us make this night unforgettable—First Time Fest, Hip Hop Saves Lives, Peacetones Records and Haiti Cultural Exchange.
What’s the best thing about being in the music business?
Traveling and seeing new cultures. Meeting new people and I have a chance to play music and share my message with the world.
Wake up call in the morning at the hotel. [Laughter] After a month of touring you feel like you want to go back home. But it is all for the fans. We love them!
Zing Experience recently toured in California. How did that go?
Our tour in California was excellent, we had two shows in San Francisco and shot a video on the beach for “Thought of California” which is a song on our album Project Haiti. Ayibobo to our record label Peacetones for organizing this tour for us.
When you have to perform night after night before a live audience, how do you make sure your voice gets taken care of for the next performance?
After a performance, I try to get some rest. I talk less and meditate to make sure that my mind is clear for the next show.
What would you say your musical message is?
Our music is all about love, peace and harmony. We believe in unity and we also want to see the youth embrace their culture.