Singer/songwriter, Mélissa Laveaux, releases ‘Lè Ma Monte Chwal Mwen’, the latest new track to emerge from her forthcoming album, Radyo Siwèl due out via Nø Førmat! on March 23. The album has already been predicted by BBC Culture among ‘the most exciting music of 2018’. ‘Lè Ma Monte Chwal Mwen’ is a traditional vodou folk song that Mélissa first heard as a child on Martha Jean-Claude’s album, Canciones de Haiti. “The title of the song means ‘when I’m riding my horse’. In a vodou ceremony, when someone is possessed by a spirit, they are that spirit’s horse and the spirit is riding them. It’s also a reference to how vodou is at times very erotic”, explains Laveaux.
In April 2016, Mélissa Laveaux headed to Haiti in search of her roots and on a mission to honour her ancestors. Born in Canada to Haitian parents, she did not know what would emerge musically from her pilgrimage although she had a particular interest in the period of American occupation of the island between 1915-1934. Two decades had gone by since she had last set foot in Haiti when she was 12 years old. She felt like a stranger and yet, at the same time, she experienced the thrill of an exile returning home, for Haiti is an intrinsic part of her identity.
She returned home to Ottawa with a head full of sounds, melodies, moods and stories of distant times. From these she built Radyo Siwèl, a unique album steeped in Haitian history and culture and yet which is also highly personal and intimate. Draping the songs in an indie rock aesthetic, Mélissa’s reinterprets Haitian heritage, taking traditional tunes, vodou anthems and scraps and phrases discovered in old songbooks, and sewing them together like a patchwork of intersecting identities.
The album’s title, Radyo Siwèl, comes from the concept of radio and the idea of transmission. Siwèl is the Creole word for a kind of hog plum that grows in the Haitian mountains and is also a reference to the itinerant troubadours and rural orchestras, called Bann’ na Siwèl, who used to peddle the songs from village to village.
1. Lè Ma Monte Chwal Mwen
2. Nan Fon Bwa