Joined: 31 Dec 1969
Location: NEW YORK
|Posted: Tue Oct 12, 2010 12:45 pm Post subject: PRINCESS SASSA "HMI PEOPLE" SPOTLIGHT: INTERVIEW!
|HMI "PEOPLE" segment: PRINCESS SASSA!
PRINCESS SASSA (Vanessa Jean Pierre) has been going up the HMI ladder since the day she set foot in the business. There has always been an air of mystery surrounding this talented young lady...UNTIL NOW! KOMPA MAGAZINE brings you the Princess on a silver platter and helps you dig deep into the persona like never before. Check out this interview we had with VANESSA in our "HMI PEOPLE" segment as we get her to talk like no one else can. (LOL) ENJOY!
HMI "PEOPLE"...Because everyone has a story.
Interview conducted by PATRICK DESVARIEUX
KM: For those of us that don't know you that well, why don't you tell us how you started in the business? How did the name "PRINCESS" Sassa emerge?
Vanessa: My work in the HMI business started in January 2004, right after I graduated college. I was only 20 years old when I completed my Bachelors Degree as a Political Science/Pre-Med major and being that I was so young, I decided to have fun and explore other talents that I had. Since I always had thoughts/dreams about becoming a singer, I decided to give singing a shot in the HMI. I went on a quest to record a demo for a group that I loved as a child...ZIN! I was ready to be a member but they were set at that time and not looking for a singer. Also, Alex Abellard wasn't too impressed with my vocals. LOL He insisted that I become a journalist for his site (I was already freelancing at the time for fun) and I accepted. That was my first step into the HMI.
The name "Princess SaSa" emerged in a unique manner. "SaSa" is a nickname given to me by my Mom. So, when I was registering on the EZ board for KompaMagazine and a couple of the names I had chosen were already taken e.g. Marabou; Haitian Princess; etc., I decided to go with either DaRealNessa or PrincessSaSa. Oddly, KM, you chose PrincessSaSa for me to use and there we had it.
KM: How was your experience with 718 Boys? Where do you think that band went wrong?
Vanessa: My experience with 718 Boyz was just that...an experience. A LEARNING experience I might add. Although it was just an upcoming band, it really gave me a good idea of what the HMI was/is and consisted of.
The band went wrong with instability. There was no clear leader and the musicians were just not on the same page. The group (or some members) was also very ambitious and sometimes too much ambition can work against you.
KM: If you were a mystery book and we wanted to know more about you, what would we uncover about who VANESSA is in terms of personality? Your strong points as well as any flaws that you think you need to work on?
Vanessa: Hmmmmm. If I were a mystery book, what one would uncover is that...
Vanessa aka SaSa is simple, sweet, silly, sensitive, selfless and smart.
At times I can be mean but that is only if you try to insult my intelligence.
Naivety is my biggest flaw that I must work on as I always choose to trust & see the good in people.
Enemies are unnecessary burdens and for that I am quick to forgive and forget.
Strongest personality traits are my will to win and loyalty.
Sticking around through thick and thin builds stronger foundations/ties and you cannot lose with that.
Applying the elements of LIVE, LOVE, LAUGH to my life keeps me positive and gets me through the good & bad.
KM: It's obvious that you are one of the most high profile women in the HMI. Are there PROS and CONS to that? What are they?
Vanessa: There are PROS and CONS in every career; all walks of life. In the HMI, the PROS are:
-the power to influence people in a positive manner.
-lots of opportunities to make money.
-meeting great people and legends in the Haitian music industry.
-having some of those great people and legends reach out to me for advice, opinion, or expertise.
-invitations to exclusive events.
The CONS are:
-lack of privacy. It seems like everyone wants to know what and who you are doing.
-stalkers. From scary or disturbing messages on my phones and emails to fake profiles created on forums and social networks to talk trash. Even YouTube clips with pictures of me that I never knew were taken. Psychos or shall I say lonely, miserable people will do anything to get some attention or try to bring you down to their misery.
-jealousy and judgment. People can say or do some cruel things when they see you are doing too good. They will pass judgment or try hard to make others feel the same spite that they do.
KM: Do you sometimes feel that either some musicians, or some people that come in contact with you might tend to look at you as some "piece of meat" or "Possible sexual conquest" because they might be attracted to you?
Vanessa: Yes. Yes. Yes. It is very hard to not hear a line whispered in your ear or avoid a pass being made. I'm like, "Geez! Must you really go there and ruin this (potential) business relationship? Can't you control your hormones and think with the right head?" It is okay to give a compliment; but it becomes a whole different ball game when you express desires and suddenly look/stare at or maybe even touch me in such a way that makes me uncomfortable.
KM: Do you think women in the industry known as the HMI tend to "hate" on each other; or is there a unified bond between you all, perhaps invisible, even if you might not be very good friends?
Vanessa: Sure there are "haters" but I won't say that it's the norm. I will say that we don't support each other as much as we should though. Greater things can happen for us if we were to work together more.
On the flip side of that coin, there are many great women in the industry who are always ready to embrace you or offer sound advice. Women like Jessie Al-Khal, Cynthia Karaha, Emeline Michel, Carole Demesmin, Luna Bastien, and Rachel Pratt, just to name a few, may not be very good friends of mine but they are wonderful colleagues who are always willing to give that helping hand.
Conclusion: There are supporters and haters/blockers. Surround yourself with the supporters who are usually the more accomplished individuals.
KM: You've gone from Band PR to HMI journalist, to being part of management staff, and having your own media consultation firm. What's next? Executive producer, HMI promoter, artist? Do I sense a climb of some sort up the HMI ladder? Do you see yourself expanding your portfolio?
Vanessa: You sensed right, Pat. I am climbing up the HMI ladder. I definitely see myself expanding my portfolio, too. My ultimate goal is to be part of a revolution in the HMI where artists are not performing for the same people all of the time at the same venues all of the time. I want to see talent win the battle over "moun pa." I want these artists to not just see the bigger picture but be a part of it so that they can stop dying poor.
Although I don't intend on becoming an executive producer, I would love to work with one who is looking into long term investment when it comes to being an executive producer and not just an "in the moment/bandwagon" one looking to make fast cash by beating an iron while it's hot. There are things called artist development, marketing, strategizing, etc. etc. that I feel many of our current executive producers do not take the time or money to invest in. Printing some CDs and putting them in stores for purchase does not make one an executive producer. There comes a much greater responsibility that they must take on. All of this needs to change.
As for being a promoter in this business, that is definitely something I also have in mind. Why? Well, I feel that a great majority of the promoters we have out there today are too much into taking the easy way out and not into taking risks. How? By not giving up and coming artists a chance; choosing to work with the top 3 or 5 bands only; having the same redundant themes or line-ups for events. It is time to put on the thinking caps and offer the nightlife something refreshing. I understand that we all don't want to lose money or we're looking to make that money. But shouldn't one think that more money could/would be made if there were a current top 50 or top 100 in our band/artist roster rather than a top 3, 5, or 10? Wouldn't that be made possible if more were given a chance at exposure? How else can the public that goes out discover them?
Our culture, our artists, our community is full of talent and it is about time that we look for brilliant ways to uncover them. If you are a promoter, then one should assume that you have the knowledge, resources, and skills to PROMOTE; not milk a cash cow. Milking a cash cow shows pure laziness and lack of creativity. We need to start challenging ourselves. Give the public a reason to go out. Make our events more than just loud music blasting through speakers live. Offer our people an experience and artists a stage to showcase what they got. Open doors to these talents; don't shut it in their faces or act like you don't hear them knocking. Expand the knowledge of this current generation of party-goers and expose them to many more different aspects of our culture. Quit being a POP Promoter and start acting like a TRUE Promoter in every sense of the word.
KM: I have to ask this question for the fans that I am sure you have that might be interested in knowing. What is your current status in the love/relationship department?
Vanessa: Sorry but I would rather not divulge any information concerning my love life. Thanks for understanding.
KM: Your favorite current HMI band IS.......(PICK ONE and tell us why)
Vanessa: I can only pick one? Oh man oh man! That is hard, Pat! That is very hard. LOL I really enjoy many bands for different or similar reasons. Allow me to narrow it down to 2 bands in 2 different categories SaSa stylee.
For great music....ZENGLEN! When I say I love this band, I mean I LOOOOOVE this band. I can spend a whole day listening to their music. No joke! Let it be live on stage or on my radio, their music to me is heaven. Very refreshing!
For fun times...CARIMI! Feeling down? CaRiMi is in town! Let it be by myself or a night out with the friends, I know that once I really want to party, enjoy good music, and have a great time without pale anpil sou micro (LOL), CaRiMi will satisfy my needs. I also love how they interact with each other and the fans on stage.
KM: I have to ask you these questions so that the fans get an idea of where you at on different things...LOL
Vanessa: LOL Here we go!
*A) Best looking artist/musician on the market?--While everyone looks good in their own unique way, I must go with MaWon musician, Ralph Leroy.
*B) Smartest in terms of intellect? Why?--From the ones I have had a chance to really interact with, I will say Fabrice Rouzier. This man is like a scholar to me. From having on-line debates with him, seeking knowledge or answers to anything, and observing his musical career & business endeavors, this man is very inspiring, respectful, and a positive role model for any young man or woman in this business. He also speaks and writes very well.
*C) Musician that you respect THE MOST and why?--Romny aka El Pozo. This man is a team player who will offer his skills to any musician or band no matter what their position on the HMI ladder. He could not care less for the spotlight. He stands out naturally because of his talent and intelligence. He does not need to brag. He does not pass judgment. He respects everyone and everything around him. If he has nothing good to say, then he will say nothing at all. As a result, his name never comes up in controversy. His stage name says it all. LI POZE!
*D) Business savvy--Sweet Micky. No door of opportunity is left unopened by this man. And once that door is open, he will walk through it. Once he walks through it, odds are he will succeed.
*E) Marriage material--Misty Jean. She is beautiful, smart, ambitious, respectful, independent, and has a good head on her shoulders. She is also a family person. Any man who marries this woman will strike gold.
KM: Which band was the MOST DIFFICULT for you to work with? Why?
Vanessa: All bands are a challenge to work with. The most difficult band that I had ever worked with, however, was 718 Boyz. I was younger then and very much inexperienced. I may have had knowledge about certain things, but the fact is that I was given a major role i.e. manager without a full understanding of how the HMI functioned and who or what I needed to know. Also, had I been working with family or friends, then it may have come easier. However, I was working with a bunch of young, virtual strangers and having to learn each others' personalities, getting along, were pretty difficult tasks.
KM: Do you think you've changed/toned down a bit NOW in terms of personality compared to when you first got into the business; or do you think you are still the same?
Vanessa: I have changed A WHOLE LOT in terms of personality compared to when I first got into the business.
*I am still someone who loves to giggle and help others. However, I do take things much more serious now. There is a time to laugh and a time to be strict.
*I go out to parties a lot less. If it ain't business or a special occasion, then odds are you won't find me at a bal/festival.
*Friendship or not, no money=no business. I have allowed myself, my kindness, to be taken advantage of for too long. Not anymore.
*I take the actions of others less personal now. Slap me on one cheek, I will turn the other cheek.
*I've learned to accept rumors as a part of life. Whereas these things would dominate me so much in the beginning of my HMI venture, I really could not care less what a stranger thinks of me anymore. I've only myself to impress (and of course my clients LOL). I don't need to prove a thing to anyone. At the end of the day...THE PEOPLE WHO MIND DON'T MATTER; AND THE PEOPLE WHO MATTER DON'T MIND.
KM: Your BEST and WORST HMI experience so far are.....
Vanessa: I have had a lot of great experiences working in the HMI so this is hard. Touring Haiti with dISIP for Summer '10, working with Jaz Enterprise, being a journalist, watching many artists produce masterpieces in the studio (and offering my opinions and advice), a Zenglen Thanksgiving back in 2005. These are all experiences throughout my career in the HMI that are best experiences to me for their own reasons. The one that takes the cake as the BEST though was when System Band sang HAPPY BIRTHDAY to me at a bal in West Palm Beach back in 2005. I was totally caught off-guard that night. Douby took the microphone and stated, "Mezanmi, avan nou rekomanse jwe la nap salye yon gro moun nan salle la asweya. Yon moun tres intelligent kap fe yon bon travay nan indistri a. Moun sa soti jis New York pou li fete avek nou la." Mind you I was still oblivious as to whom he was talking about when he was stating all of these lovely things on the microphone. LOL Suddenly I heard, "Princess SaSa, monte stage la sil vous plait!" My heart and my jaw dropped. As I was walking up towards the stage he had the audience "bat bravo." He wrapped his arm around my shouder and cotinued to state nice things about me. He then had the bar bring over a bottle of champagne, letting everyone know that it was my birthday. Suddenly the band started to play "Happy Birthday." Boutey champay pete, fanatik ap chante, epi kem ap sote. LOL That was a great experience to be acknowledged like that by the great legend, Isnard Douby. One I will never forget.
My WORST experience was when a good family friend betrayed me. He was someone I trusted and knew since my first years in college. When I found out he was talking bad about me behind my back in order to take a position away from me in a band, I felt horrible. It made me realize that this business can really be a "chien manje chien" business.
KM: Your best advice to aspiring young ladies that would like to join the business known as the HMI.
Vanessa: If you want to be respected, you must first respect yourself. Others will treat you how you allow them to treat you.
Also, make sure that you have a goal, a vision, an idea of what you want to do and what you would like to accomplish in the HMI before you choose to enter it. If certain folks out there get the sense that you are not focused, then they will try to take advantage of that and/or you through manipulation. Not everyone will be sincere or have your best interest at heart.
Take this advice along with tenacity, passion, patience, and diligence. Your peers will take note(s) and take you for what you are worth...which is a whole lot!
KM: What made you decide to start YOUR COMPANY JP RELATIONS? Tell us more about the company.
Vanessa: My decision came from always being labeled as XYZ's PR rather than ME, the hardworking individual who does not belong to any specific entity. Other potential clients were apprehensive about approaching me because they did not want to "steal" me from this band or that promoter. I then decided to start JP RELATIONS so that people could understand that my work was not a joke to me and it was not exclusive. I am ready and willing to work with anyone as long as I have complete cooperation.
[bJP Relations[/b] is a PR, marketing, and consultation firm that is also a legally registered LLC in the state of New York. Communication is key to this company and listening is more important than talking. Press kits, press releases, consultation, marketing strategies, campaigning, publicity, newsletters are all services that are provided. Journalism is also a part of the company through "JP Reports!" The goal that I have for JP Relations is for it to become one of the top PR firms not just in the HMI but in the world music industry. No goal is too small or too big. There is always room for improvement. Abundance or scarcity in resources? Have no fear! We can still make things happen. Where there is a will, there is a way. With JP Relations, you are not just a client but a friend. Your best interest is always first.
KM: Is there money to be made in the HMI? I figure you might be the right person to ask about that. (Lol)
Vanessa: LOL Sure there is money to be made in the HMI. There are many areas in this industry that need improvement or growth. The windows of opportunity are out there. They may be small but they are there. Others you just have to create for yourself.
We are slacking in so many areas that I think that educated individuals can improve. Let it be P.R. firms, record labels, nightclub owners, website administrators, promoters, attorneys, accountants, fashion consultants, designers, beauticians, photographers, make-up artists, etc. etc. These are all opportunities to make money in the HMI. After all, money is made by providing a service for a need. All of the fields that I have just mentioned are slacking and can be great business ventures as a result. It is up to those who are capable to think outside of the box and see how we can use our education to offer something beneficial.
KM: COULD YOU give up all that you have and do in the HMI in a heartbeat if you had to since the passion seems to be so strong?
Vanessa: Yes I could and I would if it involved my FAMILY. My family to me is everything and as long as I have them, I am complete.
KM: People have the wrong impression of me when (Complete the sentence)
Vanessa: People have the wrong impression of me when...they see me laughing or smiling a lot. I did not know that having a great sense of humor made you a joke, too. LOL Just because I love to laugh does not mean that I am not to be taken seriously or that I am not a serious person. Being all smiles and giggles is my personality. It's me. I can't or won't change it.
KM: Would you prefer to be respected for your work and not be popular/liked, or would you prefer to be popular/liked but not really well respected for your work? If you had to choose one out of the two options given above, which one would it be and why?
Vanessa:I would much rather be respected for my work and not be popular/liked. It's funny because throughout my school years, I was very popular and liked because of my work. It goes to show you that school and the real world are not really that different. LOL But yes...respect me for my work even if you don't like me.
KM: Any final words?
Vanessa: First, allow me to thank you, KM, for this opportunity to be interviewed by such a well-respected medium.
I would like the readers to take home with them that there are no limits to their dreams. You can do or be whatever you want. Keep in mind, however, that you will not do things alone. Nobody is a "1 man show." You will need to surround yourself with positive people and like-minded individuals who will help to bring you up. Never allow someone to tell you that you can't. Flush those who are negative but be able to listen and take all criticism in stride. Understand that there is such a thing as paying your dues. Success will not come over night. Stay strong, be persistent, and consistent. No matter how long it takes, you will get there.
With that said, I also want everyone to embrace our Haitian culture. Support our artists--music, dance, painting, writing, sculpture, etc. etc. Open your minds, hearts, souls, and pockets (LOL) to them. They play a critical role in maintaining our Haitian identity and history. They are a source of our pride. These art forms are passed down for ages to come. Let us not lose these things through greed, laziness and/or being close-minded. Let us instead play a firm role in exposing them to our diaspora communities and to the world.
Interview conducted by PATRICK DESVARIEUX
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