Cheyna Pierre Sits Down with Roberto‘Bobby Jamz’ a 20 years professional DJ.
Cheyna: How long have you been a professional DJ?
Bobby Jamz: For over 20 years.
Cheyna: Where did the name DJ Bobby Jams come from?
Bobby Jamz: Back in the days when I use to work for Radio Tropical there was a radio personality there by the name of Roslin Jean; I guess he saw the talent in me so I started doing a show with him but he didn’t want to use my real name (laughing) so he baptized me Bobby Jam without the Z but I wanted to make it sound a little bit more (pause) I don’t want to say urban but more up to date so I added the Z in there and of course Haitians have a funny way of messing up your name. Some people say Bobby Jam, Bobby Jamz and there was a period of time they were calling me Bobby James.
Cheyna: What’s your real name?
Bobby Jamz: My real name is Roberto.
Cheyna: How old are you if you don’t mind me asking?
Bobby Jamz: Old enough! I’ve been in the game for a long time. I don’t like to give my age. I never did. People who know me know my age. People, who don’t know me, keep supporting me.
Cheyna: Do you remember the first party you ever DJ for professionally?
Bobby Jamz: Wow! I started young. I didn’t get paid till years after. The first party I got paid for I was a senior in high school. I did a regular party. I made about $125.00 I was happy it was my first paid gig.
Cheyna: Which other states/countries have you played/put parties on?
Bobby Jamz: The Eastern seaboard is basically locked. Miami, Boston, Philadelphia, Jersey, did Atlanta one time, upstate New York. The only country I’ve ever played out of the US is Canada. I’m dying to play in Haiti.
Cheyna: What’s the best event you’ve played at/put on?
Bobby Jamz: One show that sticks out of my mind which I’ll never forget this was back during the Café des Arts days. It was one night when Sweet Mickey was performing. It was around the time when Sweet Mickey was on top of his game and no one could touch him. We were the top DJ’s back then (Untouchables) I don’t know if it was the liquor me and J-Love was playing but when we stopped the crowd stopped and clapped their hands. When Mickey got on there he gave us a shout out.
Cheyna: What was your first record you bought was it vinyl or CD?
Bobby Jamz: The first album I ever bought was Papash Apran Renme. That album had a lot of hits on it. It’s when they first moved to New York.
Cheyna: How big is your vinyl collection?
Bobby Jamz: My vinyl collection now is next to nothing. My partner J-Lover; he has all my vinyl. If I need them now I can always get them. It’s pretty huge.
Cheyna: How did you make the transition from vinyl to CDs was it easy?
Bobby Jamz: At first… no! Back then, we use to buy a lot of stuff. The record labels weren’t showing us any love to the DJs. They didn’t give out promotional copies. Their were only two labels Antilles Mizik and Geronimo Records I think because not only was I playing at Café des Arts but also because I was playing at the radio station. Aside from that we always had to buy it. American market there’s something called a record pool where you get the record before it’s even released. Yeah, it was harder because CDs were expensive you would have to wait a little longer to get them but now it’s simple. Untouchables has a policy if the artists don’t give us the CD, we’re not playing it. I’ll buy it but I’m going to promote it.
Cheyna: Equipment wish how hard was that transition?
Bobby Jamz: Expensive! We went through technic 1210, mixers, speakers, blowing speakers, replacing speakers, gear rack and then going to the digital age. Now I’m a digital DJ I only carry one case and a school bag with the hard drive, I have all my music on there. It’s simpler. I love it. It’s also a flaw because now with the simplicity of it everybody thinks they can DJ. They spend a $1,000 boom! You know who I’m talking about there’s a lot of DJs who think they can but that’s another story.
Cheyna: When you play do you have a pre-set?
Bobby Jamz: I feed off the crowd. I may create a play list with so much music that I’ll never play in one night. Nine times out of ten I feed off the crowd. That doesn’t necessarily means an artist who has a single come to me with a CD and say “play this”. I have to hear it first. That’s why nine times out of ten I can’t remember what I played the night before which is bad too because people will come to me and ask
Cheyna: What’s you favorite Haitian song of all time?
Bobby Jamz: There isn’t any. There’s way too many. When I use to work at Radio Tropical they had an archive of all the old stuff that’s how I learn all the Haitian music that I could possibly learn and understand it. Nowadays the people that parties now they think that this new band that plays a song is an original piece. T-Vice built a career on that and it wasn’t really their song. When you go back and listen to the original music and feel what the person was singing at the time it’s totally different.
Cheyna: Give me a list of all the genres you play right now.
Bobby Jamz: Konpa of course, Zouk… I’m the Zouk God! People think they got Zouk pass me, think again. Hip Hop and R&B, House Music, Meringue, Salsa, not too crazy about the Chata, Soukous… again if it sounds good and I can put it my set then I’ll play it if not I’ll listen to it at home.
Cheyna: What’s your favorite music genre?
Bobby Jamz: House Music will forever be my first love. I love Konpa, that’s my business but there’s something about House Music. It’s a feel good music. You never see or hear something negative when House Music is involved. Seems like everybody who comes to a House Club whether or not their on drugs or liquor, they’re there to have a good time till 10 o’clock in the morning and they go home.
Cheyna: Wait…10 o’clock in the morning?
Bobby Jamz: Yeah. My partner, DJ Franky, we went to the Compas Festival in Miami now you know because I was getting older I could not do the whole festival and go to a club after but he went to a club in Miami and he didn’t come back home till 10 in the morning and the club was still poppin’. House Music is a whole different vibe.
Cheyna: When you’re playing for a Haitian crowd which genres of music they most react to?
Bobby Jamz: It all depends on the crowd, the age. Yeah, you miss it up whether it’s the older crowd or the younger but the older crowd, older than me, you say salsa, meringue which is weird they’ll go crazy for it. The younger crowd it’s the reggae, hip hop but they are supporting the Haitian music because when you play a particular Haitian song you’ll get s positive vibe depending on what song it is. You can’t really finger a specific genre. It also falls on the DJ also a really good DJ has to know how to play it. When’s the right time to play, how to select
Cheyna: Have you ever tried playing Haitian Music for a non-Haitian crowd?
Bobby Jamz: I’ve done it. Konpa music you have two types; you’ve got the very slow and you’ve got the very fast. It’s seems like the very fast one works better with other genres because the very slow they really wouldn’t know how to dance to it. With the very fast you can dance with someone or you can dance by yourself. With the slow ones you’re not gonna find an American on the corner doing the two steps.
Cheyna:What band surprised you the most with their success?
Bobby Jamz: To be honest…I haven’t seen a band yet that I thought would not make, that made it. I’ve seen a lot of bands that I thought would make it that didn’t. New York All Stars (NYAS), Do-La, these guys are great musicians. Even though I may know the reason they didn’t make it’s not because of their music. It’s always the behind the scenes that killed it for them. There was a band many years ago by the name of Ethnic. They were a very good band. This was when the new generation bands with a new generation sound back in the 90s, post-Zin, Post-Phantoms they weren’t established but that band should have made it. There’s so many but that one stood out.
Cheyna: How is the Haitian Music scene in your eyes at the moment?
Other DJs you rate?
Bobby Jamz: In my opinion and this is only my opinion… it’s confusing. It seems like a lot of bands don’t want to progress. I understand they want to keep their originality and so on but there’s a way to be original and still progress. This is why I command this band (CaRiMi). They don’t pay me, if any thing I should have beef with this band because I was there when they first started and the love that I should be getting I’m not getting it. But we’re talking about music… CaRiMi. CaRiMi is probably my favorite band because they progress. I don’t know if the last album, Buzz is going through people’s heads or they’re not trying to understand where they’re coming from with it. But I’ve declared this alum the best and it will not be touched.
Cheyna: Rate your favorite promoter to play for and the least?
Bobby Jamz: Untouchable Entertainment – Of course
Kaliko (FL) – He needs me tomorrow, I’m there tomorrow.
There’s a big Dog in Miami I won’t air any dirty laundry but he know what he did.
Cheyna:Have you ever been paid to keep a song on heavy rotation during your events?
Bobby Jamz: You can’t pay me because I’m not playing the song if I don’t like the song. I can’t support mediocrity. I can’t support if you didn’t put any effort into it I’m not playing it.
Cheyna:Do you think promoters in the industry are doing enough to help the business?
Bobby Jamz: Are they doing enough, no! It’s hard to comment for the general public. I can only talk for myself. I have the ability to separate myself as an artist and as a consumer. The bands and the promoter need to step up their game.
Cheyna: Who is to blame for the current state of the HMI?
Bobby Jamz: I blame everybody. The only people I can’t say is blame are the DJs and not because I’m one of them because the DJs do their job every weekend.
Cheyna: Where do you see Haitian Music industry in the next 10 years?
Bobby Jamz: Not good.
Cheyna: Judging from the new up and coming bands out of NY do you think there’s any hope for NY based bands?
Bobby Jamz: Nope there’s no hope! The promoters that are putting the money out, they would rather fly a band from Haiti and have a budget of $15,000 instead of investing in a band that’s upcoming and that probably would charge them $1,500. I understand the business aspect but the rope that you use to promote the bigger bands why can’t you do it for the other bands? To take it to the next level, if you want NY to come up then why don’t you pair the band you get for $15,000 with the band that will charge $1,500?
Depending on the crowd but the right off the top of my head; Daan Junior – Ave’w
Alan Cave – Falling in Love
Djakout Mizik – Biznis Pam
Nu Look – Any of their songs
Djazz LaVol 6 – Sexy Love
Tikabzy – Relax
CaRiMi – I Wanna be
T-Vice – Bidi Bidi Bam Bam
Sweet Micky – Pa Manyen Famn
Sweet Micky – I don’t Care
Cheyna: What do you do outside of the dance music scene? Take me through the life of Roberto.
Bobby Jamz: Roberto wakes up, get something to eat, takes a shower, watch some TV, and when he his son is with him, he’s being a father. The funny thing with Roberto and Bobby, it can flip like that (snapping his fingers) I even have a little production thing in my house so I can be in my bed I’m Roberto and I get up and sit on my desk I’m Bobby Jamz. It’s an interesting day on a daily basis.
Cheyna: What about your musical career?
Bobby Jamz: My career is very complex that’s why a lot of musicians respect me because I’ve been in the game for so long and I’ve done so many things as far as the music industry. Radio personality, DJ, studio producer, I’m also a sound engineer, I was CaRiMi’s first sound engineer, a lot of people don’t know that. I’ve mixed a lot of bands from Magnum band, to NYAS live and in the studio. The rhyming aspect; I’ve been rhyming since I was a child, maybe 11 years old. Djazz la has 6 volumes. I’ve been on every single one except for the first two. The first song that I actually had my voice on was by an old school artist by the name of Gary French the song was Nathalie. I’ve worked with Tabou combo, I’ll be on their upcoming album, and I’ve done work for System Band, 718 Boyz, Jacques S. Jean. I’m actually working on an album. The album won’t come out till next year but I’m putting together a mix tape which I’ll be giving out to people of all the things that’s I’ve done.
Cheyna: What do you think of the following DJs? DJ Franky, Polomixx, Sketch?
Bobby Jamz: DJ Franky: that’s my man! As a DJ he’s a very good DJ.
Polomixx: He’s alright. He’s better now than he was 5 years ago. He was trash 5 years ago. He’s beginging to understand the selections but he still need to work on his mixing. Stakz Dinero: That’s my man! He’s doing his thing as a DJ. As a matter of fact I don’t know if my boys will take this personally but he’s the #1 DJ right now and I appreciate him for that.
Sketch: He’s alright. He has his genre the Konpa is his thing. He’s good at the live music.
Cheyna: What advice would you give to up and coming DJs/Promoters/bands?
Bobby Jamz: DJs: First of all do your homework, know the music. It’s not only T-vice, CaRiMi, and Kreyol La. If you become popular as I have, you will be put in situations where they want to hear System, Tabou or further Gypsie and Sugar Combo. Just do your homework and be humble. Right now there’s so much animosity between so many DJs. Yeah, there’s the business aspect but when you take it to a whole another level it makes no sense. There’s enough money for all of us especially in this market if you really want to make the money you can.
Promoter: Haha! Man stop being greedy. (Laughing) You can make the money, if you put out the things that the public wants. It’s not about getting CaRiMi and T-Vice every month. OK if you are doing T-Vice and CaRiMi make it something special. PRODUCTION! Production is very important. Why do you think the American people are making the money and living where they live, because they put on a show. Konpa’s been here for 50 years and we’re doing the same thing from 50 years ago. It makes no sense.
Bands: Everybody has limitations go to different producers. T-Vice did it with their last album which I thought was good. Polemic has its place in the business but once in a while pair up with upcoming bands.