CaRiMi, one of Haitian music’s most popular bands, may have called it quits, but band leader and keyboardist Richard Cave is branching out on his own with a new band KAI, and new look. Richard Cave, formerly of CaRiMi, returns to the stage with his new Haitian konpa group, KAI.
When word spread this summer that the popular Haitian music boy band CaRiMi had broken up, fans were beside themselves wondering if the news was real. They also wondered if the end of the group after 15 years of making music together meant the end of hearing some of its biggest hits like Femme Sa Move live.
Well, CaRiMi is indeed no more, but the band leader and keyboardist, Richard Cave is planning to not just keep some of those hits going, but also his musical career. Just last week, Cave released a new single, Malade, as part of his new Haitian konpa band, KAI. “I am ready for a new beginning, a new album, a new sound,” Cave said, adding that he’s reinventing himself. Until now, Cave and Fritz “Fito” Hyacinthe, CaRiMi’s longtime manager who is joining him in the new venture, have kept both the name of the new band and their plans secret. “People knew we were working on a project, but they didn’t know what,” Hyacinthe said. The band’s name, KAI, which means house in Haitian-Creole (but is spelled kay) was inspired both by the place Cave embarked on his rebirth and its Japanese translation, which means “restoration and strength,” he said.
Earlier this summer, Hyacinthe and Cave temporarily moved to South Florida from Boston and New York, respectively, and rented a house at the edge of northern Fort Lauderdale. They turned it into a recording studio, their version of a hits factory, from where Cave penned Malade and several other songs. Over the course of several months, as he worked on new music, he would be joined by other Haitian singers including J. Perry and Mika Ben.
This is not Cave’s first time branching out on his own. He has produced songs over the years for several Haitian artists including tunes for one of Haiti’s most popular carnival bands, King Posse. He’s also collaborated with other big names in the Haitian music industry including dISIP’s Gazzman Couleur on the hit song Poukisa on the band’s 2013 VIKTWA album.
In discussing his transition, Cave invokes rapper Kanye West, who after years of writing and producing for other artists, decided to start making his own music. “There wasn’t a choice for me, stopping music because CaRiMi broke up wasn’t an option for me,” said Cave, who holds a degree in finance and was joined in the group by Carlo Vieux and Mikael Guirand. It was Guirand’s departure this summer triggered the breakup. “Music is in me, it’s a part of me and I can never forget what Haitian music has done for me.”
But will fans like the new sound and the new look that now includes a tattoo on his singing arm? “I hope people open their arms, their ears,” he said. “What people have to understand is that I was the producer in CaRiMi, I was the one who did all of these hit songs for years.”