Haya: “Music is a mission, not a competition”

Haya and Nashoo in front of the restaurant "Le Petit Jardin" in Pointe-à-Pitre.

Lil Fats, the boss of Coast 2 Coast, the famous American singing competition told Haya: “Your net worth is your network”. The young Guadeloupean producer of SpaceShip Music was able to verify this statement with all the people he met and especially when, in 2016, Empire agreed to distribute Nashoo’s music. This is the first time an artist from Guadeloupe has signed with this major distribution company based in California, USA. With almost a sense of great accomplishment, Haya the singer has now decided to resume his career by releasing, on September 18, the track “Buss a Whine”, produced by Y-Not Productions. We offer you the 2nd part of the interview he gave us.

1 - Haya & Nashoo

Kariculture.net : You’ve been living in Guadeloupe with your family for 3 years now, how is the return to the country going? Is it easy to make your music in Guadeloupe?

Haya : Returning home is quite easy and it’s paradoxical: we’ve already performed on a lot of stages, it’s amazing, we feel like we’re on tour all the time, the territory is very small and we went around quickly. But musically, not all performances are rewarding; we can sing in small venues or in large ones, it’s random. We create our own opportunities: we organize our own events, we can stage ourselves and give performances. For example, from 2018 to 2019 we were in residence at the restaurant Le Petit Jardin in Pointe-à-Pitre and in 2020 we are at the restaurant OM’ Saya in Le Gosier.

It’s random to work here in Guadeloupe, that is to say that there are no great opportunities but on the other hand there are many things to create, you can create opportunities quickly in Guadeloupe but you must want them.

At the same time, we continue to work internationally, our music is distributed in the United States, in Africa, in Europe (…) On a national level, our music is played on radio stations such as Africa n°1, Tropic FM or Espace FM, which has been broadcasting Nashoo’s songs for a year now…

2 - Haya & Nashoo

Kariculture.net : You and Nashoo came back to Guadeloupe but you could have gone to the United States because you had received an interesting proposal. Can you tell us about it?

Haya : We had several unexpected opportunities. This time, following the release of our track “Island Flame”, we were contacted by Marc “Glock” Diemens, the recruiter of the American labels Diemens, Rich Gang and Cash Money Millionaires. After a first exchange by e-mail, we had a phone conversation with him which lasted more than an hour around 3:00 am in Paris, which surprised us a lot. This agent proposed us to sign with this label which produced Lil Wayne and many other artists. We had to come immediately to the USA to be produced and be part of the “ghost-writers” catalogue. But we were already involved with Coast 2 Coast. We remained in touch with Marc “Glock” Diemens (…)

3 - Haya
Haya & Foxy Myller

Kariculture.net : What is your reaction when you notice that some local radio stations ignore you and don’t play your music?

Haya : It’s because they don’t know about it (laughs)! When they do know about it, they tell us: “Where were you, we were waiting for you”. In an international market, radio stations go looking for music; in Guadeloupe, we have to bring music to the media, which is a pity. In fact, sometimes even by doing so, the artist’s music may not be broadcast. Here, we are now broadcast on Fun Radio.

4 - Haya & Gareth
Haya & Gareth

Kariculture.net : Do you really need these local radio stations if you are on the international market?

Haya : We made the choice to go back home so we knew the advantages and disadvantages of starting from scratch since the country doesn’t know us. We’re at the national and international levels, but it’s also good to be known at home. Our approach when we came back home was to take over our territory. You can’t take over other people’s territory and not be comfortable at home.

5 - Hervé, Nashoo & Haya
Hervé (Kreyol Vibz), Nashoo & Haya

Kariculture.net : You lived in Paris and then in London, you speak English, do you know a lot of people in the London musical scene? London being a crossroads, did you meet many Caribbean artists in England?

Haya : In London, I met a lot of Caribbean artists (Saint Lucians, Trinidadians, Jamaicans, Haitians…), Africans (Ghanaians etc). There is for example Cold Chizzle and his Militant Entertainment team, guys who are DJs, beatmakers, songwriters, singers and who have steered me all over the territory. They set the tempo for soca in England and at home in the Caribbean. Cold Chizzle was my mentor in England, he had already heard of Nashoo and me, he had already composed music for me, I had already written songs for him, we’ve been exchanging since we met. I also met Harry Toddler, an Elephant Man’s sidekick, whom I listened to when I was younger (…) I can also mention Hervé from Kreyol Vibz who organizes parties where we can perform during the London carnival in which many people from Guadeloupe and Martinique participate (…)

6 - Haya & Nashoo

Kariculture.net : You are working with your partner Nashoo, the record company Empire, based in California (USA) agreed to distribute Nashoo’s music. This is the first time that a Guadeloupean artist collaborates with Empire, how did you receive this great news as a producer?

Haya : Working with Empire was very good news. Empire is what we have been waiting for for a long time, that is to say to be able to highlight our music in a large territory; they distribute all over the world. It was in 2016 and we are the first reggae-dancehall artists from Guadeloupe to have signed with Empire to distribute our music. It’s a great recognition. Empire is number 1 in the United States on urban music (hip-hop, R&B…).

7 - Haya & Nashoo
Haya, Nashoo & Mega LCC

Kariculture.net : How did it go with Empire?

Haya : We didn’t have direct contact with them. It was the American rapper Reime Schemes with whom we work and who is already distributed by Empire who recommended us. Thanks to Reime this signature with Empire was possible.

The short story is that Reime participated in the Coast 2 Coast contest to be on Future’s mixtape, we met at that time; he lost and we won. We worked together afterwards and as he is an artist and producer, he told us: “we are in competition but it’s not a competition, let’s work together”.

Empire has already distributed four of our songs: “Island Flame”, “Thief ah Whine”, “Wonders” and “Summer Love”.

8 - Haya & Nashoo

Kariculture.net : How is the distribution of your music with Empire?

Haya : The distribution is perfect, they don’t take a lot of duties on our music and it’s more interesting to go through them than through digital platforms that take a big percentage on the artists. In fact, Empire is a label for artists and created by artists and if it has influenced the music world to the point that there was a TV series that bears its name, that means everything.

We are proud to be at Empire, we are distributed all over the world. In Africa, our music is played in Tanzania, Ghana, Sierra Leone etc. with the distribution and promotion of Empire. This means that as soon as a song is released, there are 200 to 500 websites that talk about us, radio stations ask for interviews, sometimes at 3:00 in the morning we can be interviewed by a radio station in the United States, in Africa or elsewhere. We also give interviews in the Caribbean (Jamaica…). When the hosts of these radios like our music, they send us a short video of them playing it, they ask us for dedications or liners. We give at least one interview per week alone or with Reime. Recently, we gave an interview to Irie Vibes, a web radio based in Luxembourg, directed by a Jamaican and broadcasting reggae music. Kiss FM in Tanzania sent us a short video of them playing our music (…)

In fact, it’s really more interesting to be distributed by Empire because we don’t have much to do: once the music is released, it’s visible.

9 - Lil Fats, Nashoo & Haya
Haya, Lil Fats (CEO Coast 2 Coast), Nashoo…

Kariculture.net : It seems that many artists have discovered the internet with the Covid-19 epidemic but you’ve been working with digital for a very long time. What can you say about this means of communication?

Haya : Nashoo and I are stage artists, which means that we are in a territory that we exploit and digital technology allows us to reach other territories. That was our principle from the start, we don’t have many videos but we used platforms from Paris and we realized that we were reaching foreign countries because there were some English words in the songs. Digital allowed us to see that wherever we are, as soon as we did our work, the music can be broadcast through the networks.

Lil Fats, the boss of Coast 2 Coast, told me: “Your net worth is your network”. Without a network, without the internet, many artists don’t survive because music must be distributed, the record market is dead, the market is digital. So the artists must all adapt, those who are very “physical”, who perform on stage, earn more money than if they released a record, the record doesn’t go out of the territory…

We mainly work on the internet and that’s why we decided to go back to Guadeloupe, we decided to work on the “physical” at home.

10 - Haya

Kariculture.net : Your new track will be released on September 18. What is the name of the song and what is it about?

Haya : It’s called “Buss ah Whine”. It means: unchain yourself, dance, it is intended for Jamaica and English-speaking territories. This song is produced by Y-Not Productions, directed by Sens’s High J, a French-Beninese beatmaker who is a member of the jury at Coast 2 Coast, he has the merit of having produced a lot of Jamaican music; Jamaican productions call on him to compose instrumentals for Elephant Man, Movado and other stars. He is also officially one of the beatmakers of our production company, SpaceShip Music. I work with him on some the tracks. Now, he decided to release his own “one riddims”.

“Buss a Whine” is rhythmic dancehall, rather hardcore, I went back to the roots, I’m a “stand tall” style artist. This song is for women.

11 - Haya & Nashoo

Kariculture.net: What made you take the microphone again?

Haya : Sens’s High J offered me an instrumental and I said yes, why not? It’s been 3 years since I released a song. Maybe it was time for me to do it because I was pretty busy managing Nashoo’s career. Now I have more time for myself because she taken a big “balan” (get ahead), she has her own management team in Paris, international work, we already did it with Empire.

So I decided to take up music again because it’s my main passion even if I mix, I do video. Now, I’m going to manage my musical career that I didn’t really give up. “Buss a Whine”, will eventually allow me to resume my career on these English-speaking territories, to assert myself alongside very well known artists.

12 - Haya & Nashoo

Kariculture.net : What is your vision of the cultural world, especially the musical world, since the Covid-19 outbreak? Can concerts and shows survive?

Haya : Since the end of lockdown, we already performed on four stages and we hope that it will continue to unblock and, at the same time, there is the risk that everything will come to a standstill again. We are groping around.

I think that the arts and culture community is trying to find new ways of dissemination, there are many artists who are focusing more on the web. That doesn’t change for us because we always did it.

Music is a mission, not a competition. We did our job, if it inspired other artists, so much the better. We are already inspired by everything that exists to be able to improve ourselves, to bring our personal touch.

The digital environment, with concerts for example, will continue to develop and for the “physical”, we’ll just have to adapt. There will be more and more paid broadcasts. For example, Youtube, Facebook, SACEM, and other international organizations are now recovering artists’ duties even on the shortest videos, which was not the case before. Music will continue to develop, it is the soul of society; as the people continue to live, there will be music and culture.