Exploring Entertainment in Florida's 850 & Beyond
Leading up to the 30A Songwriter Festival, I tried to listen to as many of the artists as possible. That challenge was made even more critical when the Beachcomber asked me to review a handful of artist’s albums for editions leading up to the big event.
I completed the task with one giant thought: the talent of 30A Songwriter Festival is overwhelming, impressive, and more varied than I initially expected.
That is what happened with Kazoots – a band from Miami with roots in Haitian music and culture. I had to know more about them, so I set up an interview. Through that, I got to know the band and understand their musical hopes.
Along with that interview, I am happy to pass along that seeing them live was just as magical as I had hoped. Inez owns the stage. With bare feet and one of the most unique voices I’ve come across in a while, it was an absolute treat to see them perform.
Kazoots is comprised of Inez Barlatier (rhythm guitar / vocals), Jayan Bertrand (lead guitar / backing vocals), and Gabe Norwood (drums).
The seeds of Kazoots were planted before either Inez or Jayan played instruments. “Jayan and I grew up together, because our parents were in a band together in the 80s,” explains Inez.
Even the name Kazoots is an ode of sorts to their parents’ band – Koleksyon Kazak.
“We usually call it afro-indie-rock – or the acronym AIR,” explains Jayan of their original style.
Gabe proves to be the jester of the trio, but is quick to praise his band mates. “Their talent overshadows my drumming abilities, but I’m not fully a professional drummer. I have been playing the drums for a while as kind of a secondary instrument. When I first heard this guys – I just felt it. I vibed with it. It intertwined with my soul. I really dug it. I asked to hop on the set, and step by step we kind of molded together. My skill is definitely coming into shape. I love it.”
The Kazoots EP closes with a traditional Haitian song – ‘Ayibobo!’. It is simply stunning. “The song is about people that are leaving, or taking a journey away from Haiti,” explains Inez. “The song is giving them a blessing for a safe trip – that they find what they need. It is also asking them to please come back, because from when they left, Haiti is getting better. To have faith that it is going to get better.”
Inez views it as a message of hope and prosperity, that “through every darkness, through every gray sky, we can always see a shade of blue – and there is hope.”
They each have a slightly different view of Kazoots’ future:
Jayan: Just touring – I love traveling. I want to travel more. To be able to play music – which is the only thing I basically live for, to be able to travel and play music at the same time… It is just beautiful. It is the best of both worlds.
Gabe: I would like to see the band really solidify itself. I’m speaking truthfully – these two have been in Miami for a while and I am from DC and moved down here recently. . These two haven’t been congratulated in the city as much as they should.
Inez: I know it will take a while, but for me I’d like to create something that hasn’t been done before. Even if it is a fusion of styles that were separated before. I want to make music that has never existed before. If I can accomplish that then I would be a happy person.
Be sure to give the band a listen – you may soon be craving AIR too.