Interview: Donné Roberts
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I grew up in musical family all my 6 siblings played the guitar and I’m the youngest. I would have been a chef because I like to cook
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I like to cook and draw. Both process cooking and drawing relax my brain and welcoming musical ideas. I end up singing something by myself.
How long has your band been around?
My band been active since 2006
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
I live in Toronto the most multicultural city in Canada. People in my band are from Japan, Cuba, Mexico, The Bahamas, Montréal, Egyptian and Madagascar. My Afrobeat music has influence from all these cultures.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
It’s just a short version of my legal name Dieudonné Rakotomamonjy Roberts = Donné Roberts
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
I performed with my former band the African Guitar Summit at The Live 8 in Barrie ON in 2005. Deep Purple performed before us and they played “Smoke on the Water”. The first song I learned on guitar when I was 9 years old was Smoke on the water. I was so excited in the backstage while waiting for our set, listening to Deep Purple. It was like a dream came true.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
My favourite venue is Drom Taberna in Toronto. I would love to play at the Massey Hall.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Tony Levin on bass, Manu Katché on drums and Maceo Parker on saxophone. But I really enjoy playing with the people I’m already working with such as Max Senitt, David Woodhead, Yukiko Tsutsui, Ken Yoshioka, Alexander Brown, and Paco Luviano.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
Whenever you perform always do your best, this includes sing/play the song you know the best, wear your best costume, be the best person you can on stage and off stage
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
I would have spent more time learning classical music.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
“Malembo” from my first album Rhythm Was Born (it’s about women as a mother, a sister, and a wife)
Which songs are your favorite to play, and which get requested the most?
The song “Seheno” from my album “OYA” that has been nominated for JUNO Award Global Music album of the year 2022. Also, the song Ariengue from my album Internation
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
The creative process is always different most of the time the melody comes first and everything else comes after. Inspires me usually a current situation that touches my feelings.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
Mostly the messages are hold on to your hope, don’t give up easily, let’s have fun and be grateful
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
There is disagreement sometimes but leave it up to the band leader and it should never hurt the music
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
I’m working on my new compositions. Excited about the JUNO Awards events in May 2022.
Look forward to our performances:
The Old Town Hall in Newmarket ON, “World Music” concert with Donné Roberts Sextet on April 14th, 2022. Address: 460 Botsford Street
Lula Lounge on April 21st, 2022 at 8pm. Concert organized by CBC for the JUNO Nominated artists for the Global Music Album 2022
Revival (783 College St, Toronto) on May 7th, 2022, at 11:55pm. Music Festival organized by Latino Canadian Cultural Association.
Hugh’s Room Live on June 4th, 2022. For the event The African Guitar Night.