Konpa dot info: A Database of Haitian Records

Fedor Hüneke, is a Web designer who had the genius idea to create this wonderful reference tool for Haitian music. In this brief chat, he summarizes his on-going adventure.

Thank you for your time, and for playing along, Fedor!

Q: How did the idea to create konpa.info emerge?

A: Long story! Actually, it’s a series of small, not planned steps, over many years.

I heard Compas music for the first time around 1988, and liked it instantly. All the songs I knew were from foreign radio. It was very hard to find anything to buy, it seemed to be a very rare kind of music. So, I started to collect any thing that I found. Around 1996, I met someone who already had a list of information from the 60’s to the 80’s. So, I added to my data. Late 90s, there were the first Haitian online shops available, information related to the music slowly grew.

A friend then suggested that I make the list available on the Internet. Although, it was too heavy to maintain on a personal computer, I created simple HTML pages in 2001.

One day, I found my name on the pages of Frantz Salomon [who blogs under the username “Zaf”]; I emailed him. I was honored, and his act motivated me to continue with the project. All of this were done with no prior knowledge of being a programmer. By January 2006, Konpa.info went online.

Q: Have you ever been to Haiti?

A: No. This spring was the best opportunity to go because a friend wanted to stay there for a while, but we had to readjust our plan.

Q: How did you get interested in Caribbean music?

A: I started to listen to World Music by accident. The were some programs on the Dutch, and later Belgian radio stations. Slowly, I learned to love the genre. The music was totally different to Compas, but with a lot of similarities. I would only buy retro stuff, such as Shleu-Shleu and early Tabou Combo compositions. I heard two songs from Les Gypsies, and got hooked on the guitar style.

Q: Describe Compas in one word

A: Give me two – Bon Konpa. To me it is (or can be) more rich then any other genre I know.

Q: Has any Haitian bands played in Germany?

A: I think Tabou Combo was here and I have seen Dixie Band in Cologne. There was a small follow-up festival the day after the huge Caribbean festival, in Belgium.

Rara Machine was part of a World Music event many, many years ago. I have attended most concerts in Belgium or the Netherlands. In the 90s, there were many World music live acts in the Netherlands and Belgium. There are more opportunities in Germany in terms of concerts, because it’s a developing country, and the opportunity is waiting to be taken.

Germany has 82 million people – 400 Haitians

Netherlands 17 million people – 1100 Haitians

Belgium 11 million people – 1800 Haitians

Q: How do you market the site?

A: I don’t. The people just come.

If there would be a newsletter for all new releases, that would help. The site was created as a reference tool to Haitian music, so the more visitors, the more exposure to the genre.

My dream is to one day have the musicians from an album listed where a summary on which album and in which band a musician has played. I find that Haitians bring much attention to the individual musicians.

Q: How’s your Creole? Do you now understand the language?

A: Next question, please! Na palé anko. You can start to teach me.

Thank you!

Visit konpa.info.

Interview and transcript by Monalisa Yacinthe for Joconde Communications.

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