An Interview With Canadian-Haitian Jazz Duo Bel and Quinn
There is this serenity in the music of Canadian-Haitian jazz duo Bel and Quinn. Perhaps it’s because one of their influences is 1950s singer Sam Cooke. Or perhaps it’s because the pair are actual sisters, and have their sisterhood on autopilot.
The sisters are hot as winter fireplace wood on the Montreal music scene. They can be seen performing at hot spots such as Club Balattou, O Patro Vys, Casa Del Popolo, and La Marche d’à Côté. The daughters of a Haitian couple, they perform in English, French and even Haitian Creole.
Quinn is up first! Follow our conversation!
Kreyolicious: Were you exposed to Haitian music growing up?
Quinn: Yes, we were exposed to Haitian music growing up. I always liked seeing my parents dancing konpa in the living room when we were younger. If they saw us watching them dance, they would stop! It was beautiful to see. I developed a taste for Haitian music listening to Rodrigue Millien and Ansy Dérose.
Kreyolicious: A lot of teenagers find themselves withdrawing into music as a refuge. Was the case with you growing up?
Quinn: Yes. I would even say that music saved my life. Bel and I have experienced extremely difficult things and mental illness has been and is still very difficult. Music has literally saved us from these difficult times.
Kreyolicious: What’s it like working with Bel in the studio?
Quinn: Bel and I often spend time together and it is as if we communicate without saying words. Bel is very patient and at the same time very perfectionist when we’re in the studio because she wants things to be perfect! Also if I’m not sure I played a song well, she encourages me. We are a team.
Kreyolicious: Let’s say you’re working on a track. What do you do?
Quinn: We try as much as possible to take ideas from both sides. If it doesn’t work we leave the song aside and we come back on it the next day or a few days later. But Bel and I are very well connected and our ideas come together quite often.
Kreyolicious: Canada being a bilingual country…do you think that certain songs are better done in French than English and vice versa?
Quinn: I think so. Some songs are better expressed in French, English and even in Creole. Some things are better expressed in some languages. Sometimes, the feeling of a song is meant to be in a particular language so you just have to follow your inspiration and creativity.
Kreyolicious: When you’re on the stage, all eyes are on you. When do you feel the most beautiful?
Quinn: I feel beautiful when I play my guitar solos. As a jazz guitarist – jazz guitar is a man’s world – I am proud to be a jazz woman guitarist. I feel beautiful when I do solos and when I can express myself with melodic phrases.
Kreyolicious: Have you been to Haiti? What did you think?
Quinn: I have never been for different reasons but it is in my plans. Let’s hope for the best [next year].
Kreyolicious: What should we expect from you next?
Quinn: We plan to record a few songs[this year] possibly in French and Creole. We’re thinking about an EP. We’ll keep playing in various venues to share our art.
This is the interview with Quinn! Be on the lookout for the interview with Bel! Stay connected with Bel and Quinn and their music!