Meet Yanis Roset - Explorer, Panist, Organizer, Arranger, Educator, and Bandleader - UpClose!

A When Steel Talks Exclusive

On what is Panorama to you? Yanis Roset says:

For me, Panorama is the summum of all. When you are in the country of the steel pan and you feel the fever among the players in the panyards, the spirit of competition invades your whole body and you feel as if someone had cast a spell on you.

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The formula is simple. Yanis Roset = Pan. An in this regard Yanis has embarked on a life long journey of exploring all things involving the culture of Pan, without exception, apology and/or compromise. He is indeed an exceptional talent and a deep-thinking intellect devoted to moving the art form to new heights.

Humble and always in learning mode - Yanis is a living breathing “ethnomusicologist” who is completely absorbed in living the Pan experience. To say he sleeps, eats, drinks and dreams the culture of the Pan would be an understatement.

In an exclusive interview with When Steel Talks, the ultra-talented Yanis Roset shares his noteworthy and extensive history with Pan in Guadeloupe and much more.

WST - “Tell us about Yanis Roset?”

Yanis R. - “I am a nearly 30 year-old man born in Guadeloupe and crazy about steel pan.”

Yanis Roset of Karukéra Steel Band
Yanis Roset

WST - “When and how were you first introduced to the steelpan instrument?”

Yanis R. - “I was first introduced to the steel pan instrument, when I was 9 years old. My mother was part of an association and as my father had just died, I was not interested in anything. So my mother proposed me to join the association where steel pan was played and I fell in love with the steel pan.”

Young member of Karukéra Steel Band
Member of Karukéra Steel Band

WST - “You are an organizer, performing artist, steelpan player and most importantly, a mentor to the younger members in Karukéra Steel Band. Which role defines you best? And which do you like the most?”

Yanis R. - “Well, after a nice experience with “Zikak 2000,” I decided to create my own association with a close friend of mine, Sébastien, and Karukéra Steel Band was born, in 2010. My aim was to teach people, especially young ones, how to play the pan. I felt I had a mission. I started with my nephews and today, I think some of them can easily replace me if I have to be absent for a while. What I like the most is teaching and sharing my passion with as many people as I can.”

WST - “What keeps your passion for the instrument going?”

Yanis R. - “This instrument is really part of my life. It helped me to grow, if I can say so. I am keen on the sounds all the instruments produce. As it is an acoustic instrument, you don’t need electricity and you can play everywhere. That’s fantastic!”

WST - “Tell us about the history of Pan in Guadeloupe.”

Yanis R. - “I will speak in terms of generations. The 1st generation which appeared in the 1950s, saw Trinidadians come to Basse-Terre in the south of Guadeloupe, in order to participate in the sugar cane harvest. Then they moved to the commune of Capesterre Belle Eau in the agricultural areas.

“The Florimont brothers, Judes, Serge and Jules from Cayenne, installed the steel band in Capesterre and created the “Steel Band Shell” in 1955 with the help of Georges Barbotteau, manager of the oil company Shell. At the same time, many orchestras were formed with Hildebert Rozèr Jaffard, Hubert Bibiane, Albert Tifeau who played with “Les Palmiers” on their 33 rpm record with Jean jabot on drums, Marie-Andrée Mondongue on guitar pan, Maurice Chavriacouty on tenor.

“The first steel orchestra of Guadeloupe was born in Brest, Capesterre Belle Eau. But the circumstances of life caused this first steelband to explode.

“The 2nd generation is that of “Les Palmiers” created by Toussaint Walter, Désir’s father, who proposed the Carnival on trucks driving through the streets.

“Toussaint went to Trinidad to train. He in turn trained all the people who came to him. Toussaint Walter, who played in hotels, popularized the steel band. His “panyard” was at the Cité des Sources III in Capesterre Belle Eau. He joined Georges Bethy and Pierre Jean dit Vernaïs Luce from Port-Louis, Guadeloupe. Pierre Jean dit Vernaïs Luce (6/3/1941-4/2/2006), father of Jean-Luc Luce, set up his group Steel Band from Port-Louis to the north Grande Terre and became associated with Georges Bethy. And he created “L’Etoile des Iles de Port-Louis.” In Pointe-à-Pitre, Henri Coquin’s steel band was especially visible during the Carnival.

“The 3rd generation saw the arrival of “Zikak 2000,” the association of Petit-Peru, Capesterre Belle Eau (in which I started playing), under the leadership of M. and Mme Benony and their children [who] arrived around 1995, and most of the players of steel band of Capesterre are from it, having been formed by Désir Walter.

“The 4th generation is that of Karukéra Steel Band in 2010. And after them, many new steelbands appear in Guadeloupe.”

Karukéra Steel Band etal

WST - “Do any of your family members play pan? If so, tell us about them.”

Yanis R. - “Of course! Yes. I have many members of my family. My nephews, Ridgy and his girlfriend Anabelle, Jonathan, Kahyna, then the kids Jos and Tamara who are respectively 11 and 9 years old, my brother-in-law Eddy, my brother Patrick. Even my mother who is 72 years old, played with us for a few months. I must say that Anabelle’s experience is amazing. She started to play two years ago, and now she can play on all the instruments.”

WST - “If you had the power to change something in pan immediately what would that be?”

Yanis R. - “Create more and more links between Guadeloupean panists and international ones.”

WST - “What have you been most proud about as it relates to pan in Guadeloupe?”

Yanis R. - “Definitely, the first Festival I initiated in Trois-Rivières in collaboration with the municipality and the Carnival Committee of Trois-Rivières. There were 48 pan players from Karukéra Steel Band on stage.”

WST - “What disappoints you the most in the steelband movement?”

Yanis R. - “For me, steel pan is a great family but many Guadeloupean panists don’t agree and prefer performing alone. That’s a pity!”

WST - “What would be your advice given to someone who is interested in traveling and pursuing performing in various Panoramas around the world, such as yourself?”

Yanis R. - “First of all, learn how to speak English!!! It opens your mind and makes you progress and have new opportunities in music. You must be ready before going to meet other pan players.”

WST - “Who, and what are your musical influences?”

Yanis Roset
Yanis Roset

Yanis R. - “My musical influences are essentially soca. Bigin, Zouk which are Guadeloupean music. Roughly speaking, I listen to all sorts of music. Patrick Saint Eloi - Bob Marley - Michael Jackson, etc. I am very eclectic, you know!”

WST - “You are truly an international panist. You performed this year with the 2019 champion Renegades in Trinidad & Tobago. Describe that experience.”

Yanis R. - “I went to Trinidad for the final of the Panorama 2019 from 25 February 2019 to 3 March 2019. I played 4 Cellos with the Renegades. I had to learn the song in less than five days on a new pattern for me. It was a risky bet but I couldn’t leave for more time in Trinidad because I teach pan in schools and my band Karukéra Steel Band had some concerts in Guadeloupe. Trinidad 2019 is my first competition in the country of steel pan and my first win in Trinidad. It was an incredible experience. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Candice Andrews-Brumant and Duvone Stewart for their confidence.”

WST - “In addition, you have performed in Panorama in St. Lucia, London, New York and Miami. In fact, you have won a few Panoramas in some of these countries.”

Yanis R. - “Ok.” [List of those Panoramas below.]

Year Band Country Tune of choice  Arranger  Place
2004 North Stars Steel Orchestra Saint Lucia A taste of steel Ivan Smith 1st
2005  North Stars Steel Orchestra  Saint Lucia Tribute to scrubb Ivan Smith 3rd
2016 Ebony Steel Band London Cheers to Life D. Stewart 1st
2017 Ebony Steel Band London Far from finished D. Stewart 1st
2017 CASYM Steel Orchestra New-York Far from finished Kendal Williams No panorama
2017 Sticks N’ Tones Miami Full Extreme Kobie Alleyne 1st
2018 Babonneau Steel Orchestra Saint Lucia Suzette Allison Marquis 1st
2018 Sticks N’ Tones Miami Year for love Kobie Alleyne 4th
2019 Renegades Steel Orchestra Trinidad Hooking meh D. Stewart 1st

WST - “Talk about and compare the differences, and the similarities, in the preparation - and actual competition - for Panorama in these various countries, from your experiences.”

Yanis R. - “I have already participated in five different places. What changes is the number of musicians in the bands, the preparation and the coaching method.”

WST - “What is Panorama to you?”

Yanis R. - “For me, Panorama is the summum of all. When you are in the country of the steel pan and you feel the fever among the players in the panyards, the spirit of competition invades your whole body and you feel as if someone had cast a spell on you.”

WST - “Is Panorama a curse or blessing from your perspective?”

Yanis R. - “In my perspective, Panorama is a blessing. It’s a competition that allows each band and each panist to do their best to win the competition. When you win, you are conscious of who is the best!!!”

WST - “How would describe your personal journey with Pan thus far?”

Yanis R. - “I started as a learner then quickly, I became as a professional. Since I was 12, I transmitted all my knowledge to others. Then I created Karukéra Steel Band that I have been managing since 2010 and now many local artists ask me to play steel pan with them on stage, alone or with my band.”

Yanis Roset with other musicians

WST - “What is your vision for Pan in Guadeloupe going forward a decade from now?”

Yanis Roset
Yanis Roset

Yanis R. - “For me, Pan is only at the beginning. Steel pan was invented 72 years ago in Trinidad, but Guadeloupe is a French country and the local music is predominant. I would like Guadeloupe to have a national steel pan school where we could learn standards of our music with its various styles and also, organize a Panorama in Guadeloupe.”

WST - “What do you know now about Pan, that you wished you had known years ago?”

Yanis R. - “Every day I learn from pan. Everything came in time for me. So I think I’ll never stop learning about pan until I die.”

WST - “What is next for Yanis Roset?”

Yanis R. - “I wish I could go on travelling and meet more and more people connected around the pan. I wish I could open a steel pan school, and spread the ‘virus’ I caught 20 years ago, throughout Guadeloupe.”

Yanis Roset with CASYM Steel Orchestra in 2017

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