‘Big City Life’ for local boy
Local Vibes
June 2, 2006
‘Big City Life’ for local boy

A singer/musician who has gone platinum with his band “Mattafix” in some four countries, with singles from his album “Signs of Struggle,” Marlon Roudette has tasted success.

But this 23-year-old who was born in England and raised in St.Vincent and the Grenadines from the age of seven years, doesn’t consider himself a superstar but a lover of music. Marlon grew up in the village of Penniston and attended the Windsor Primary, the St. Martin’s Secondary and the St.Joseph’s Convent Marriaqua Secondary Schools.{{more}}

Marlon was taught to play the Steel Pan by Ashley Kirby and later went on to play with Vinlec Steel Orchestra.

Buzz caught up with Marlon during a brief visit home last week. He was sporting a sleeveless t-shirt, shorts and red Converse sneakers when he opened up for a candid interview.

Q: Tell us about your band, how did it get started?

A: We first formed when I met (Preetesh Hirji) who is the other half of Mattafix. He is a very important element. He is a qualified sound engineer and a producer and he is the other guy on the album cover with me. The ladies go crazy over Pree, (laughs).

Q: I would think that it would be you they would be crazy over?

A: Ahh…no, no, no…(blushes)…Pree’s got Indian heritage but grew up in London. My father is English and my mother is West Indian so I had a multi-cultural background as well. We are very 21st century.

Q: You always felt like you were going to do this?

A: I think so, yeah. I think that music finds you on a day-to-day basis. Waking up, you see music in a lot of aspects of everyday life, you see lyrics in events that seem kind of mundane. And I think that as a musician it is something that never leaves you and you are always active at it.

Q: Do you think that you are so artistically inclined because of your mother (local artist and lecturer Vonnie Roudette)?

A: (Laughs) That’s a good question … hmm … I think that she had a big part to play in terms of encouraging any creative tendencies that I already have. She being an art teacher, I do think that she definitely encouraged me to be musical and surrounded me with many great records back in the day.

Q: What kind of music do you like?

A: Well I grew up listening to a lot of Reggae music first and foremost. You know a lot of Gregory Isaacs, Dennis Browne and obviously, Bob Marley. People like Sizzla, Anthony B, so that is what I grew up listening to, as well as a lot of Hip Hop. I’m a big fan of Notorious BIG as well as MOB Deep, so it’s a big mesh mash. So by the time I went to London I had a big musical history to draw from in terms of influences.

Q: How would you describe your music?

A: Well our master engineer in London when he first heard us described it as 21st century Blues.

Q: Really?…What did he mean by that exactly?

A: He said traditional Blues was about the guitar and about that raspy voice, but I think he meant that our music had a similar sentiment to Blues music. Blues was incredibly accurate from a social political stand point, so singers like Nina Simon, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker were incredible at wrapping up the feelings of the times.

I think that’s what Mattafix tries to do. Take a lot of the experiences from the island as well as experiences from across the world. I give my experiences as a young Vincentian living in a metropolis such as London. We bring a lot of multi-cultural aspects to the album.

Q: How many persons do you tour with?

A: Well there are two main people, but we take a band of five on the road. In all there are 10 of us, soundmen and tour managers and people like that.

Q: How do you think you are doing now?

A: Ahh…In terms of commercially or emotionally or spiritually?

Q: Well…musically first?

A: Musically we are definitely making strides, I think we growing as musicians and songwriters. I see a lot of room for progress. I am never one to sit back and say we have achieved…and that’s it! I think that we continue to move forward.

Commercially I can’t complain, we’ve gone double platinum in quite a few countries. We’ve been number one in seven countries and so commercially it has been unbelievable. The fact that we have done it without speaking about topics that are popular at the moment, you know like the “Bling Culture” the misogynistic views about women, the hot tubs in the videos and all the materialistic things that is kind of giving black culture a bad reputation.

The fact that we have done it with songs that have meaning and with videos that have strong visual references is one of the things I am most proud about.

Q: Spiritually now, how are you doing?

A: I think that I’m developing…definitely. Spiritually music plays a massive role to me, creativity is definitely having knowledge in itself. I have never been traditional in that regard…I have always had respect and an appreciation for all different types of religion from Christianity, to Muslim to Hindu to Buddhism.

Q: Sister Pat…that’s all I am going to say!

A: Wow…she was a massive influence on my life! When I went to Marriaqua in fourth form my education was on the way down. I had gained a reputation as a troublemaker you know…and I think she recognised in me the potential and kind of worked on that too and I think that it was only natural that I got the name of the band from her. You know she used to always say, “Problem solved; matter fixed!” I think that was definitely an important step in the band and the fact that she passed away in such a tragic way, it kind of cemented our need to keep one of the phrases that she used. So yeah…I am very grateful and indebted to her memory. So she was a massive influence in making me shine.

Q: So all the girls are going crazy over you now…but are you single?

A: No, no I’m sorry, ladies but I’ve got a lady in England who is supportive.

Q: So you consider yourself very conscious?

A: Yeah I think music has a massive role to play in global change, I think that we live in a time where we can’t ignore the global conflicts that are going on.

Mattafix is going to Israel in the next couple of weeks to play two gigs in Tel Aviv. That area is in the mix of social turmoil in terms of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict and we are always aware of how Matta-fix can play a role in that.

Not from self-righteously thinking that we have the solutions but just from a peaceful view with the power of music.

Our songs kind of reflect how a lot of people feel out there and we think that’s important.

Q: What is your favourite track on the album?

A: “Clear and Present Danger” that’s a track about peace and about war. The big hit from the record was “Big City Life.” Some of the more emotional tracks, like the one they love here in St.Vincent is “To and Fro”

Q: What advice do you have for young people out there who have similar dreams like you?

A: Ahh man…do I have the advice? Ah…I guess that it is important to stay true to your Vincentian identity, I think that we continually look into other cultures maybe a little too much sometimes and there is nothing wrong with that so that you can get your references, but I think that we have something very strong in St.Vincent that needs to shine through now.