By John Hood
Fudakochi may not be the first name that springs to mind when imagining a Haitian-American soul stirrer; hell, it’s probably not the last either. But if the man who carries its weight has his way, that’s all gonna change. And soon.
Why? Because when you cross the name’s meaning with what the named means to do in its honor, the moniker will rank among the most recognized in music. And by the time he’s done it’s gonna feel as if the name’s been there all along.
Japanese for “love strength and honor”, the name came about after Fudakochi’s father, Jean-Robert Narcisse, had returned from touring The Land of the Rising Sun with The Magnum Band, then (and now) one of Haiti’s most popular kompa collectives. Pops was a founding member of the longstanding band, and he’s still a bit of a fixture among Miami’s Haitian diaspora; something that definitely left a blessed mark on young Fudakochi.
Better yet, the monikor not only reflected the father’s respect for Japan and its culture, it anticipated the world which has come to pass; a world in which a Haitian-blooded American with a Japanese name who sings soul songs with an alternative slant isn’t the least bit unusual. But just because we live in a Benetton world where mash-up culture has become the rule rather than exception, doesn’t mean there’s no such thing as exceptional. And it certainly hasn’t diminished the exceptional’s power to rule. What this new polyglot paradigm has done, however, is made it all the more essential to be unique. For that is the only way to be a singular sensation.
On Saturday, February 14th, Fudakochi will take to the carpet at Bardot and show this brave new world that’s there’s a brave new soul to be reckoned with. His arena is song, but it’s so much more than that. In fact, if this new world is as brave as it claims, then this brave new soul’s song will soon be filling arenas.
Tropicult asked Fudakochi to A a few Q’s before making his debut.
In a sentence (or three), who’s Fudakochi?
Fudakochi is a soulternative artist; a visionary who sees art in a different light.
Can you please explain soulternative?
Soulternative is a mash-up of two genres — soul and alternative. The soul side is my voice, and the emotions and feelings that come directly from me. The alternative side is the music, the sounds of future, past and present, but tweaked a little.
Where can we hear an example of this new hybrid?
I’ve got a single coming out on Valentine’s Day on Rocsoulfully Records called “U + Me = Us”. It’s a perfect example of the mix of genres I’m looking to exploit, and a perfect representation of unity and love.
If you’re the “Me”, who’s the “U”?
There’s no specific subject if that’s what you’re asking; it’s more of a universal “U”. The right person at the right time. The song’s the summing up of a perfect equation.
If we were to throw the song into a hat filled with other artists, past or present, who would it be keeping company with?
Because of the mixture, I’d say (humbly) Marvin Gaye and D’Angelo on the soul side, and Coldplay on the other.
Yeah, when I was 22 I met the band in Amsterdam, I had no idea who they were; I’d never even heard one of their songs. And I saw them live that night, and they were phenomenal. Changed my whole perspective about what music could be. Before that, I was all about R&B.
What were you doing in Amsterdam?
I was touring with an American band called Zero Gravity. We were all music majors at University of North Texas. They had this manager with a lotta European connections, and he booked them on this extensive tour. They needed a keyboardist/vocalist, so they asked me. I jumped at the chance.
What do you mean by extensive?
An entire year. Back and forth across Europe for a whole year. It was a big culture shock for me. And the best time of my life. So far. It was what changed everything for me, as an artist, as a person and with how I viewed the world.
What happened to the band?
Well, the manager’s idea was to build a fanbase before we even released a record. So after the tour, we came back to Texas to record our first album. Then the usual band shit kicked in — drugs, irresponsibility, bad work ethics, name it. Everybody thought they were rock stars already. But we didn’t even have a deal yet. The band ended up breaking up before we recorded anything worth keeping.
So, what did you do?
I left Texas and moved to New York. I wanted to get as far away from that experience as possible. I finished my education at NYU — BA in Education, in fact. But I couldn’t get music outta my system.
Once I finished school, I moved back home to Miami. Got hooked up with a beautiful woman, had a beautiful child, but I still had music in me. So when things didn’t work out with my wife, I went back at it. Full blast. The result is what you’re hearing now.
A mis-marriage didn’t seem to rid you of your romanticism?
It surely didn’t. Actually, it enhanced it. There are too many beautiful women in the world. And too many chances to meet the right girl.
So then “U + Me” is your way of showing there’s someone for everyone, so long as you don’t give up looking?
Exactly. And once you’ve found the perfect someone else, hold on to them. Because that may be the last best something you’ll ever have in your life.