TROPICANA D'HAITI and SEPTENTRIONAL D'HAITI. However, my musical career really took off at a church called Holy Name in upper Manhattan in New York, where my family moved after we left Haiti. There, I used to participate in different talent shows and I was part of the church band. That's where I created my first band, ZOUKE.” Kenny Desmangles introduced himself for this interview. He spoke about the Kenny Desmangles that we sometimes don’t hear to much about.
HB- What music did you listen to when you were growing up? Who werre your greatest influences?
KD- I used to listen to all types of music: Salsa, Meringue, Kompa, Zouk, R & B, Soukous, and Chansonnete Francaise (French songs) - when my mom was listening to it. My influences were Roger Colas, Jordan joseph, Rodney Gracia, Parisien Fils Aime, Ti Manno, Ti Kit, Dieudonne Larose, Isnad Douby, Raymond Cajuste, Boulot Valcourt, Lionel Richie, Michael Jackson, Earth Wind & Fire, Cool & The Gang, Gerald Levert, Bryant McKnight, Baby Face. There are so many I can go on and on.
HB- Are there other artists that you love -- past or present -- that didn't directly influence you?
KD- Yes. Artists like, Mick Jagger, Smokey Robinson, Luther Vandross, Malavoi, and a few artists of my generation. I prefer not to mention any of their names.
HB- Do we have a solo artist problem in the HMI? Is it harder for a solo artist to make it, to get signed, to find radio time, and to get into stores than it used to be? If so, why do you think that is?
KD- I don’t think we have a problem as far as solo artists. In some ways it might be harder for a solo act to make it in the HMI simply because we don’t really have settings to accommodate solo artists. In my opinion, a solo artist needs a backup band to perform or to promote their product. Otherwise people are not just going to buy their product. They want to listen to music in a live setting if they like it, which will also boost sales. The bottom line is our market is not big enough or structured for that.
HB- How many bands were you a part of before Zenglen?
KD- I had a few experiences with groups of friends but of what I can call regarding real bands I was a part of before Zenglen, was NYAS and 509.
HB- What’s your personal favorite thing about being in Zenglen compared to other bands you've been in?
KD- Zenglen fans. They are the best.
HB- Is there any tour or shows that you have done that you still look back on and think, “Wow, I can’t believe this!”
KD- 2013 Haiti Rezilta Summer Tour, 2007 OFF Haiti Summer Tour, and 2007 Live in Zenith Paris show, 2009 Compas shows Bicentennial Park Downtown Miami. All of them with Zenglen.
HB- What is it that you like best about touring?
KD- The camaraderie amongst the band members, the fans, and traveling from one place to another. You get to visit a lot of countries and meet a lot of people while you’re working. How cool is that?
HB- As an artist what is the most fulfilling aspect about playing music?
KD- Knowing that people appreciate your music when they sing your songs. Knowing that your creations mean a lot to them. There are certain things money can’t buy!
HB- Do you recall where your very first gig was? How many people would you say were in attendance and what was the reaction like?
KD- My first gig was at my little brother’s Baptism party. There were a few hundred people there, including my family members and they were going crazy, clapping, dancing, and screaming.
HB- Tell me about your chemistry with Reginald Cange?
KD- Regi and I have been working together for over a year now. I think we are starting to develop really good chemistry on stage. Our dance moves are more in sync now and we can pretty much tell what the other is about to do next as we perform. Those things don’t just happen overnight.
HB- What types of responses have you gotten from the “Rezilta” album?
KD- People say that it's the best album that’s come out for the year of 2013 and that we’ve really raised the bar with “REZILTA”.
HB- Define the process when you are writing a song?
KD- For me it could be different ways. Sometimes the lyrics come first and sometimes it could be the melody. Sometimes I start with just a verse, create the music, work on the chords and arrangements, and complete the lyrics later.
HB- What role did you play on this album?
KD- Songwriter, studio producer, singer, concept director, marketing assistant, and strategic director.
HB- In an interview with HB, your former Maestro, Richie, stated that you contributed musically to the Rezilta album, but not vocally. Do you agree?
KD- I don’t understand his answer. It sounds more like a political response. Perhaps if he can be a little more specific then it would be easier for me to answer your question.
HB- You told me recently that you had been preaching the new direction that Zenglen has taken to Richie a few years ago but he refused. What was his reasoning?
KD- That Zenglen fans would not have accepted it. That it wouldn’t have worked.
HB- You seem to take off your shoes at every performance lately, meanwhile stating, “Mwen p’ap pran soulye sa anko”. What do you mean by that? (laughing)
KD- (Laughing) First of all, I do not take off my shoes at every performance. But when I do sometimes, it is just for fun. It’s pure entertainment. Remember Moses, I am an entertainer at heart. People tend to forget that. A lot of people have short memories when it comes to me sometimes. They forgot that I used to hold it down for the great King Kino of Phantoms and the legendary ladies’ man Alan Cave in Zin. During the summer of 2007, I did 31 shows in Haiti with Zenglen as the only front man with the hit song “Ou Fe Fot”. Just a little reminder,Moses!
HB- You recently posted a picture of your son on Facebook. How old is he? What does he mean to you?
KD- My son Elijah’s 8 years old. He means the world to me. He's the only one I have and I like to spoil him. I do what I do, for him. My time on this earth is almost done so now it's his time to shine in whatever he chooses to do in life, and he has my 1000% support. I love him to death.
HB- Besides music, what else do you do for fun?
KD- I like to go out to the movies, or watch them at home. I like sport, like soccer and basketball.
HB- What’s your favorite gadget?
KD-I don’t really have a favorite one.
HB- Your favorite drink?
KD- Rum Punch or a vanilla milk shake (laughing).
HB- Your favorite dish?
KD- Mixed seafood rice, or du riz, sauce pwa, legume avec Lambi ladan'n (rice, pureed beans, & stewed vegetables with conch in it) (laughing).
HB- Your favorite color?
HB- Any female artist, Haitian or non-Haitian that you have a crush on?
KD- Janet Jackson and Ciara.
HB- Is there anything you would like to say to your fans before we wrap this up?
KD- I'd like to say thanks to Haitianbeatz and thank you to all the fans around the world for all the love and support that they have given me throughout the years. I pray GOD every day to bless them all and to grant them health and happiness. I love them all!